These last two grandkids, Francis and Caroline, have been raised to think and do. Beth, their mother, owned and managed a well known restaurant in Cleveland for most of their lives, and they could bus tables, refill drinks and run the dishwasher as soon as they were old enough to see the top of a table. That hasn’t been a problem for France, though; he’s always been tall enough.
Then, there’s constitution. Their mother is Irish and German, their father Welsh and German (well, really Lithuanian, though Grandma Ruth doesn’t often acknowledge it). Grandma Ruth describes herself as a tough weed, and these two kids are, too. They used to go to Lithuanian Scout Camp, where they learned to shoot rifles and take care of themselves in the wilderness. Caroline, wisely, opted out, for home and hearth, but France carries on.
I didn’t see much of Francis until these last couple of years. He often was off with his dad, climbing rocks, sleeping in wilderness camping areas, hiking for miles. I got involved, to the extent of following his adventures, when he started the blog last summer, to cover his trip across the middle heartland.
That trip was with a group of people who were testing themselves, just as France was. The leader went all the way across the country, ending in Oregon. A couple from Japan went to San Francisco. France stopped in Illinois. Others were in for a distance, and out. It was a good group, not all speaking the same language, but united in purpose.
France was already biking hundred mile days around Cleveland, in preparation for this spring break jaunt, when we met for lunch, with his ulterior motive of enlisting courier service, and perhaps getting a hot shower and a place to bunk for a couple of days in DC. His details were completely sketchy, and I figured I’d hear more later.
“More” simply was that text about seeing me in DC. I ruffled his composure when I said I needed a plan and he said, “Fine, I’ll ship it!” His next destination is South Carolina, where he will meet his mother and visit cousins he hasn’t seen for a couple of years. I’m thinking he’ll Uber or Lyft to the airport. I don’t even know which day, though I’ll either be on the national mall or visiting a founding father’s home.
His “courier” parcel contains his passport, his laptop, and probably some clean clothes and socks. He’ll need ID to get on the plane, and all he has is his passport. For good reasons, Beth doesn’t want to ship that to South Carolina. I’m interested to see what will become of his bike.
If you’ve had a look at his Facebook postings so far, tell me what you think in comments. He's posted a couple of videos. He was the only person last night in a little campground; he slept on a concrete slab. It was below freezing. This morning he had to bike six miles to breakfast, fueled by a surprise latte mix from his mother and sister that he described as, “Surprisingly, not half bad.” He hoped the trail was frozen, not muddy, and he was off. Whatever makes your latte, I guess.
So, Ellen, civilization is in the package.
The plaque Francis made for the leader of last summer's adventure.