Friday, August 21, 2009

19 August 2009 - Pengilly, MN

Tonight is my last night in Pengilly and my last night on the Iron Range for a long time—at least 18 months, if not way more. This will easily be my longest stretch away from my original home. It is hard to believe that in a few days I will be a resident of another continent where I will again start anew as another anonymous member of a community.

For months I have been saying goodbye in preparation for my new adventure. I started with my co-workers, then my friends, and ultimately my family. Today I spent the afternoon with my grandma. We kept putting off our goodbyes, but eventually the time came for me to leave. Grandma is 91 and fearful that we will never see each other again. She has lived for roughly 1,100 months yet worries she has less than 20 to go. If I believed her, I wouldn’t be going.

The day was plagued with constant rain, a perfect day for preparing for a move to Spain. By ten P.M. I had organized all my belongings—accumulated over twenty-six years—into one backpack, one carry-on sized bag, and one box to be shipped to me when I finally get an address. Having completed my one required task for the day, I moved to the living room where I joined my dad for some Letterman. Ken Burns was the night’s primary guest, and he was busy talking about National Parks. His talk definitely got me to reflect on my last few months.

This March, I travelled to the west coast of the US to visit my brother. We spent the week road tripping around the region, occasionally stopping to hike. This summer, I got an even more intimate look at the natural beauty of the USA. The summer started with another long road trip which was followed by a grueling 1,000 mile hike through some of the wildest parts of the country. By August, I had visited seven national parks in less than half a year: Redwood, Crater Lake, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, North Cascades, and Olympic.

These past six months have been the most perfect farewell journey imaginable. I was truly able to comprehend the vastness and diversity of the USA. This was especially evident in the countless natural sights that I saw, but even more relevant in the people I encountered in between. I’m not sure when I will exactly return to the United States, but I’m happy to leave the country with such a positive spirit towards it.

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