Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 24- Pittsburgh, PA - Chicago, IL

This sure doesn't seem anything like the East Coast (Indiana Toll Road headed to Chicago, IL)

           Today is the day that I bring this great fellowship adventure to a close. 500 miles, perhaps the longest distance traveled for this journey is actually a lot easier to do than East Coast miles because the roads are fairly straight and flat. While I love traveling and exploring, it is always good to be home. However, it is bittersweet that the research and study component of my fellowship officially ends with my return to Chicago. The good news is that there is plenty of work that remains for me to do to wrap up and analyze the last twenty-four days of my life.
            The drive back home from traveling always carries with it a certain sense of excitement and a certain sense of dread. The excitement portion is the sense of return to home, family, friends, and life’s daily routine. The dread portion is unpacking the car, putting things away, and reconnecting with the life you put on pause when you left! It’s always a whirlwind…but it’s worth it every time.
            As I headed out of Western Pennsylvania you can easily tell that you’re headed to another part of the United States…Take a look at how flat and straight the highway becomes as noted in the opening picture.
            Once you leave Pennsylvania, you are in a prime position to make a pleasant lunch stop in one of my favorite eateries in Ohio…Tony Packo’s. Packo’s, a long-standing Toledo favorite, was made famous by Toledo native Jamie Farr. Farr played Corporal Klinger in the television hit M*A*S*H, where his character pined away for a Packo’s fix while serving in Korea. The rest, as I’ll say here, is hot-dog history. Go see what all the fuss is about when you roll down the Ohio Turnpike.
If you visit, may I suggest the Hungarian Hot-Dog..It's a legend (Tony Packo's Express, Maumee, OH)
            On the approach to Packo’s, I saw the first sign indicating mileage to Chicago and the beginning of the homestretch for my return. Earlier in the day I turned mile number 4,000 on the fellowship and it was hard to believe that twenty-three days of sights, sounds, and smells were behind me. There is so much of this fellowship journey that I have yet to share with you and I’d like to let you in on two little secrets. 
First mileage to Chicago sign, just East of Maumee, OH
First of all, I plan on writing a series of Epilogues from the fellowship to revisit a few themes I presented earlier. While writing on the road, at the end of very long touring and travel days, I had to limit the scope of my discussion. (As such, there is BOUND to be some much-needed revisions and editing in my preceding  posts…I’ll get to those, too!). I will also introduce some new themes that emerged and will be brought to light in the coming days and weeks.
Secondly, I will take approximately one month off to finishing tweaking my blog and get the school year off the ground. When the time is right, I plan to begin, in earnest, writing a book about my experiences. I already have the title in mind and I already know what I want the book to do. Please keep me in your thoughts as I dare to begin, literally, the next professional chapter in my life.
Before I sign off, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you known and unknown readers for sharing this experience with me. By reporting to my blog I’ve felt a sense of obligation to keep up with the daily task of reporting the highlights of the fellowship. While I am motivated to keep things straight for my needs I am very motivated to share my story with you, my external partners, who searched for coffee with me, had lunch with me, and shared my front row seat of seeing this beautiful country with me. Writing a book would be very difficult without a sense of beginning and I believe that my blog will provide some of the necessary framework to get the book off the ground.
So, while it seems like “goodbye” I rather think in terms of the French phrase au revoir, literally to see again. I’ll see you in the Epilogues and I will see you when the book hopefully makes its appearance in the summer of 2013. While the book seems like a distant dream I simply remind myself that the ideas behind this fellowship also started out as a dream. Thankfully, I admit that many of my dreams have come true, so I hope that the track record continues…
4,170 miles later I'm back where it all started...my garage. Whew! What an ADVENTURE! (Chicago, IL)
Until we meet again…
Thank you for joining me today…~Mr. K.

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