It was in Old Town while touring the Wells Fargo Museum where a new travel bug crawled under my skin: I decided I wanted to cross the mid-West in a covered wagon.
I think it's clear by now that crazier things can happen.
I thought of the ruts, bumps, and blisters I would bear. The ravaging weather. The stomachaches. The desperate slowness. The ablution of the prayerful prairies.
After the relief of a brief airport goodbye -- I kept the car running -- I drove straight to Point Loma.
Now in Technicolor.™
Point Loma is a peninsula where, apparently, the first European expedition came ashore in California. Without curiosity or enthusiasm, I drove to the Cabrillo National Monument, which was bustling with other visitors taking in the Pacific panorama.
This statue is not from the 16th century, no matter how much I wish it were true.
Through the reprimandings, hand-holdings, and photo-takings, we all did our part to uphold timeless edifice of the tourist vignette.
I sat on a stone stanchion and took in the water, the city. Finally, actually alone after two weeks of a wrong kind of alone.
And for the first time in months -- maybe years -- I felt lonely.
I'm not inclined to feelings of loneliness. When I'm not socializing -- which I approach with a fervor that would suggest I'm paid handsomely and by the word to do -- I'm a contentedly solitary creature.
I logged hours, days, weeks of quality alone time. I'd spent nearly four months on the road, driving through the country totally alone and in my thoughts. Hours and hours were spent whizzing by on highways.
Christ, I'd survived Nebraska. What couldn't I do?
Yet sitting there among the chatter, I felt a distinct and unfamiliar feeling of loneliness.
Maybe it was because I'd just spent weeks with someone who seemed burdened by being near me. Maybe it was because I hadn't seen my family of friends in several months. Maybe it was the way a mother was holding her son's hand a few feet to my left.
Maybe it was all of those things.
I had two nights to myself in San Diego before heading to Arizona, where I'd reunite with a sister-friend from Atlanta for a Thanksgiving jaunt through Sedona.
I was ready to feel loved, and to feel thankful for good company. But I wasn't quite ready to get off the road.