From my Travel log: Introduction — Sept. 22 (1979)
We left home (Bloomfield, Nebraska) at 4:30 Saturday Morning. We got to Norfolk at 5:30 and boarded the bus at 5:55. Grandpa and I sat in the front 2 seats. Grandma sat behind us with another lady named Cecila Thomas. We picked up 2 more people at Fremont. Around 8:30 we got to Lincoln and picked up some more people. At 10:00 we picked up people in Omaha, and had a 15-minute break. Later at West Branch we picked up one more lady. Our bus number is 409. Our guide was Janet Brockley. Our driver was “Bud” Neswick.
Aunt Rose called it “A Motorbus Trip North and East,” and so I’ll always remember the autumn of 1979. My grandparents set up the two-week tour of Canada and the East Coast for the three of us, a chance for us to get away from the farm and “see the whole ding-dang world.” That was Aunt Rose again, commenting from the sidelines, always my biggest source of encouragement, always “rootin’ for ya, kid.”
The morning of September 22, I mostly remember the dark and how, as we drove, the eastern daylight pulled us across the Nebraska landscape. It was the first time I consciously recall thinking of the sun as harbinger of a new day, leading me on a journey. I had only just finished reading The Lord of the Rings that summer of 1979, so my sense of “There and Back Again” was strong.
I was looking for signs and omens in everything.
Cecilia Thomas, named above, was to become an important part of the trip—and my life as a whole—though I only ever saw her once again in person (in 1980 when she came to Bloomfield to visit). Truly, I’ll treasure her forever.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We had yet to leave Nebraska.