Way back, well before lockdowns became a part of the vernacular, I had the idea for something I called The Magic Chocolate School Bus Traveling Roadshow.
The idea involved retrofitting an old school bus to run on used cooking oil and turning it into a traveling chocolate educational attraction complete with everything needed to teach chocolate making and produce and upload video content.
And it would have hooks for a hammock.
My plan was that I would leave from the New York metro area and drive across country along a northern route to the West Coast, turn south and follow the coast from Seattle-ish to San Diego, then drive East until going any further would risk needing to turn the bus into an amphibious vehicle. After making a hard left I’d head north up the coast back to NYC.
The actual route would be determined by the location of craft chocolate makers I would visit along the route. I would stop by to watch them work and taste their chocolate, interview the makers, have chocolate tastings with customers, and visit off-the-beaten-path local attractions stopping to eat at all the best dive spots along the way I could. If the chocolate maker (and/or a community’s library) wanted to schedule a stay of a day or five, I would work that in. I was looking to be on the road for at least four months.
I even started working on a crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness and the funds necessary to convert and outfit the bus. Sadly (?), life stuff intervened and I never got around to picking up the idea before the time of the lockdowns.
Here we are in 2023 and life stuff has intervened again. This time the tea leaves are telling me that it might time for a change of scenery – not just changes in the color of leaves. June 2023 marks the 40th anniversary of my moving to New York City after graduating from RISD, and I’ve lived in the NY Metro for all but one of those 40 years.
So I’m seriously thinking of pulling up stakes and moving out west, closer to my immediate family. I am in the middle of packing up the apartment in Brooklyn, putting most everything in storage, keeping only what will fit in a suitcase and a duffel.
Then, via ground level public transportation options (think trains and buses, I have no plans to hitch – been there, done that in a previous life) I will be heading West. The last time I traveled across the country on wheels was back in 1979. That trip was to and from Portland, OR bound for Cincinnati, OH via Salt Lake City, Omaha, and Chicago, to attend a National Federation of Community Broadcasters conference. (I was working in non-commercial FM radio in Portland at the time; KBOO-FM.)
What will be different this trip is that I don’t want to power through the journey making the best clock time possible. Taking a leaf out of my Chocolate School Bus Traveling Roadshow idea, I want to plan visits to craft chocolate makers along the way. To see the country from ground level. Visit craft chocolate workshops, do interviews to upload, give tasting classes to help pay for train and bus fare, making the most of my time (not the clock’s) and have the kinds of adventures I overlook from 10,000 meters traveling at 700km/hr.
My goal is to leave NYC no later than the end of March, arriving in Arizona when I arrive.
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