The beginning has been a sprint. Almost 1,500 miles in and half-way across the country, the odometer and I have seen much. The first leg of travel I accomplished alone, with the first stop at a skatepark in Cleveland, the Crooked River skatepark. The park is small and simple with a white bridge above and is nestled in a bend of the Cuyahoga River just before it enters Lake Erie. The park shined with smooth concrete construction and reflected the quiet atmosphere of the mid-day, mid-week setting.
There I met a man, I'll call him Matt.
When I arrived, he was speaking to two young kids, both wielding scooters. He engaged them as equals, talking about their decks, bars, and trick arsenals, but also of their ambitions, their passions, and their desires. He took them seriously when others may not have.
Matt is a listener and a talker. He said he has been on the road for two years, stopping in Cleveland most recently to visit his mother. He has been to Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle, Albuquerque, Denver, Phoenix. He meets people and stays with them for a day or for weeks, until he decides it is time to move on. He puts his skateboard on his backpack and walks down the highway, looking for a ride. I learned this from him after uttering just a few sentences.
Matt seemed to feed off the energy of those around him. When new people filtered into the park, he made their acquaintance, and celebrated the skills and tricks they brought to the park. He rode the bowl with two new guys who came fifteen minutes after me, and they mutually enjoyed the thrill of pumping and carving around the high concrete walls, trying to lock into a grind on the steep coping.
Those same high walls dealt me a blow, and I had to leave early, but the image of Matt's hand in the air putting up a peace sign as I rolled down the hill away from the skatepark remains in my mind. I headed off to Chicago from there to pick up Mira.
With another traveler in the car the time flew by, pushed along with help from alternating driving shifts. Leaving Monday morning, I witnessed the thick forests of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana give way to the rolling hills of Illinois and Missouri. We headed South and passed through Springfield, then West to Missouri where we stopped on the far bank of the Mississippi for lunch in Hannibal, the home of Mark Twain. From there we continued on to Kansas City, where we stay the night.
On to Denver tomorrow, with stops at more skateparks, and undoubtedly pictures and memories of another state crossed.