You might also like

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ellen asks, “What’s in the package.”

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. 


  1. Hari OM
    AS I don't do the phizzog thing, can't really comment on or about it. Sounds to me that he is a teenager shifting into adulthood and commitment to any other than himself may be considered an imposition. He'll get over it. Maybe not before DC... YAM xx

  2. I like a rough outline with the option of spur of the moment changes. He sounds like he is doing what he wishes.

  3. I don't play FB. A dinosaur I know.
    Hopefully his plans will solidify.
    Enjoy your weekend.

  4. From his FB videos, he sounds like he's enjoying himself, he is bright, articulate and prepared, and likes to be independent.

    I can also tell you that I have a nephew who has done a lot of travelling solo across North America and Europe. He does not return calls or emails with any reliability, even to his grandmother who worries over him greatly. We've had to accept that this is how he is. And he is otherwise a bright, articulate, and pleasant person. After he got married, he and his wife did some trips in scary areas as well, but at least there were two of them.

    That's all I got, Joanne. Full of commiseration - and absolutely no help at all.

    1. He'll be fine. I think about him sleeping on concrete slabs and slogging along in freezing weather and wonder how he finds this recreation fun.

    2. It wouldn't be my idea of a good time :)

  5. I can't imagine biking or trekking across the country. I consider it an achievement these days to get to the shop and back.
    Tough weeds indeed.

  6. I'm not on facebook, so don't read others' facebook pages, but he sounds like quite a mature, adventuresome kid! I sure wouldn't have done that kind of thing at his age. -Jenn

  7. I admire France's adventures! I have never been and never will be quite adventurous! But what great adventures he will have because he is willing to pursue them!


  8. He is so brave. He posted 13 minuts ago on FB.

  9. He is definitely an adventuresome kid. I do feel that the world can be a dangerous place, but that we should never let fear rule us. And I will check out his Facebook postings.

  10. concrete must suck the heat right out of the body, ugh, ah to be young again and impervious to the necessities of comfort, what an amazing story

  11. A real adventurer. All power to him

  12. Nothing but praise for that boy. His goal setting, independence, and reliability are all traits that are building a fine man you will be proud of.