Homeward He Did Come. America. Days 30-33.

I started my drive home Saturday night, directly after Titus Andronicus. I planned to make a few digressions but mostly just drive straight through to Virginia. Firstly, I figured I had to see the Grand Canyon, since I’d be driving within an hour of it on my way home. So I set my GPS for the Grand Canyon and drove through the night, arriving early Sunday morning before all the traffic started. I walked along the south rim trail for an hour or so before getting back in the car. It was just as magnificent as people say, but also terrifying, since I am afraid of heights.

After the Grand Canyon I drove pretty much straight through Arizona, New Mexico, northern Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, stopping only for food, to get gas, or when I got pulled over in Oklahoma because a state trooper was convinced I was running guns. I drove through a freak thunderstorm that seemed bound within the state lines of Texas, as it started right when I crossed into Texas and stopped right when I crossed Oklahoma.

I stopped in Memphis Monday night for food and happened to glance at my Google Maps and realized that I was within an hour of Oxford, Mississippi, home of William Faulkner. Although I wasn’t originally planning to make any more stops, this was too good to pass up. I’m a huge Faulkner fan, considering him to be “Shakespeare with a southern accent,” and so I decided to make a special trip the next day down to Oxford. I drove down I-55 and crashed in a highway rest area for the night. I realized that I hadn’t slept in a rest stop since Ashland, OR, and I had been spoiled by the cool Oregon nights. Mississippi nights aren’t nearly as cool.

The next day, I went into Oxford and visited Faulkner’s home of Rowan Oak and his grave. I’ve written before about visiting writer’s homes and graves being a spiritual experience for me. It was inspiring to stand where Faulkner stood; it made me feel like I knew him better than reading a biography ever could. Although there is a sense of irony in worshipping at the altar of history, since Faulkner wanted no part of his life remembered except his work. Faulkner wished to be erased from history as a man, to be remembered simply by the obituary “he made the books and he died.” After a quick visit to pay respects at his grave, I got back on I-55 to Memphis, got food and then headed east to Nashville.

Realizing that in spite of stopping in Oxford, I was still ahead of schedule and if I continued onward from Nashville I would arrive in Richmond at 4 in the morning, I decided to kill some time in Nashville. I got some coffee at Crema and then walked around 12 South for a couple of hours before heading home.

It was an uneventful drive home. After driving all night and part of the morning I arrived back in Richmond at 9am Wednesday morning.

All told I drove 7,000 miles, saw 21 Shakespeare plays (plus Book of Will) in eight states, plus visited the Grand Canyon, and the homes of Mark Twain and William Faulkner. Not bad at all.