Sketches of East of Here

I. Setting Out.

My brother is driving. I'm in the backseat at liberty to write. Dad, riding shotgun, shuffles through sheets of paper explaining stock valuations and physical therapy exercises.

The car is a 2015 Buick Lucerne with 62,000 miles on it and counting. Destination: Ludlow, Massachusetts, where my dad grew up, where he's from, where he still has family: his cousins, his aunt (who turns 88 in two days), his sister (who he hasn't seen in 25 years), his niece (likewise).

We left Belleville, Illinois, at 8 a.m. this morning, yours truly behind the wheel. Football (a.k.a. soccer) streams on satellite radio, channel 157, the European Championship tournament. This is the first round of the tournament, dubbed group play. Earlier, Russia knocked off Finland. Now, it's Turkey and Wales.

It's been awhile since I've been in a car's backseat. I'm enjoying it; it feels like a luxury. Like I'm flying on an airplane. What else is there to do but to read, to write? To describe, to explain, to tell?

At the first rest stop, my dad pointed at some new socks he was wearing.

"What do you think of these?" he asked...


Click to continue with my account of traveling by car to Ludlow, MA with my dad and brother to visit family there...

Meramec State Park, August 22-24

I wrote nothing the whole time at Meramec.  We camped, we floated, we sweated.  Friday I camped with one of my five cousins, Lyle.  He picked me up in his Sierra.  I gave him a quick tour of the house.  His brother had been here, a few years ago at holiday time.  We crawled along Hanley and I regretted having suggested we go that way.  Big Bend, Jack—quit forgetting about Big Bend.

Just getting my camp gear loaded into the truck I was sweating.  He was sweating at work and never stopped.  He must've hauled ass to get to my place when he did—left the mill at 3:50, down 70 to Soulard, fight the good fight along 64/170 to College City—I expected him at 5:30 but he got here at ten after.  I was only a third of the way through a manhattan solidarity said I shouldn't have.  But solidarity lost its good fight.


Continue with this travelogue...