Woods Hole, Mass.
Our freight-cation began in Washington state.
While we were without cashflow for four weeks after my mother died, it was the return to our routine that we needed. MacGyver quickly landed a coast-to-coast team run. A four-day, 3,300 mile passage across 13 states.
Because of the decision we made 20 years ago, a few months before my father died, we had no money stress during this emotional time. Back then we were a few months into our new lifestyle, based on the FUF principle — Fuck You Funds — and madly paying down more than $25,000 in debt before we could start saving. Half way to our goal, we had started accumulating some savings, enough to handle last minute expenses and help my mother, without going into our credit cards. Fast forward to this summer, the peace-of-mind that we “bought” with our savings is worth the effort of a savings-first, cash-only lifestyle. Still, we knew, getting back on the road was essential.
Looking at the load details, it was THE perfect run to get back into our trusty steed, Black Beauty. Then it was topped with the best news EVER. So great, that I cannot find a synonym that adequately describes my euphoria. Delighted, excited and strangely relieved all rolled into one.
“OMG!” I tapped back urgently. “That’s our load.” The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was moving its prized sea floor crawler, Jason, home, from the West Coast, for maintenance. It needed six teams to move all the parts.
Eat. Drive. Laugh. Drive. See the orange and pink sunrise crossing the Mississippi River — witnessed by Ed and me at the helm of our respective steeds — eat more, drive more, laugh a lot and cry a little. The perfect tonic.
Peering through the deep ocean fog that clung to the Oregon coast — thankful for its RV-deterrent effect — we pulled into Boiler Bay. Our two stately rigs shrouded by the mist because, technically, the View Point Rest Area on the edge of the ocean caldron said “Daytime Use Only.” What they can’t see, doesn’t hurt, we decided. Salena plated her much-lauded Roasted Pork Loin dinner. Our first in a series of gourmet meals.
Most freight is simple and uneventful. Arrive at the shipper, watch the pieces loaded by crane or forklift, secure load with chains and straps, pickup paperwork, leave.
But this was different. This freight, known as Jason, was on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, ship, the Ronald H. Brown, in Newport, Oregon. While loading was organized, Jason’s Chief Pilot and Expedition Leader Tito Collasius invited drivers on board for lunch, a smorgasbord of salad fixings, including a tasty seaweed, and entrees, beef, chicken and salmon with vegetables. Chatting with the crew was just as good as the food. I had roasted salmon on salad topped with seaweed. A welcome antidote to the mountains of Double Caramel Magnum bars that I had been using as medication for the past month.
Once loaded we pointed our two elegant, black ships-of-the-highway east.
The best trucking is riding shotgun behind this Big House, a highway heavy-use tractor with a home bigger than many Manhattan apartments and a culinary magician in residence, seating four people for breakfast and dinner and just hanging around. Pancakes, bacon, eggs and fresh-pressed espresso coffee in the morning. Lemon chicken, pasta and fish among the dinner menus.
“Ed eats like this all the time? MacGyver, whose road food is based on dinner sandwiches, creative and filling, but still sandwiches, asked. “Can I follow you? Forever?”
We arrived on the east coast late Sunday night. It felt like the end of the earth. Past Cape Cod, off Martha’s Vineyard, following a narrow, dark, two-lane, tree-edged road to Woods Hole.
Tito, who operates the joystick while Jason hovers above the sea floor, made an offer we couldn’t refuse. See the hottest ticket in the world of oceanography, James Cameron’s Deep Sea Challenger pod and submersible. I climbed into the pod, where the famed Titanic director sat for 16 hours, in his exploration of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, deeper than Mount Everest is high. And now only three people in the world have been to the bottom of the ocean. Two in 1960 in a US Navy submersible and Cameron.
The final event on our freight-cation was a bicycle ride, since we all carry bikes. We rode along the ocean path, breathing the salt air, feeling the sunshine dance on our skin, into Woods Hole for dinner at The Landfall restaurant for a feast of scallops and lobster with a water view table.
Five days. Coast-to-coast. We laughed a lot, I cried a little, and we made money.
“You can’t follow us everywhere MacGyver,” Ed said during our final meal together. “You have to live your own life.”
Salena has cast her healing spell, our life can go on.