I met Kent McKamy sometime in the late 1970s, maybe early 1980s. We lose touch for years at a time, meet up again and always, it is like no time has gone by. We pick up where we last left off.
Kent has contributed a couple of stories at The Elder Storytelling Place and now he is spending the summer telling stories every day about his grand adventure driving around the United States at his new blog, kentsusdrive.
“I want to talk to as many people as I can in hardware stores, diners, gas stations, bookshops, barber shops, stationery stores and other establishments in small towns across America,” writes Kent. “I want to get a feel for this country on the ground. I want to get a personal sense of the people who call themselves Americans, and a personal knowledge of the geography of this vast nation.”
It can be difficult beginning a grand tour. After a delay due to some problems with the rental car company, Kent deduced that
“Getting out of Dodge is probably easier than getting out of New York…I found that I had about two hours of client work still to finish, find stuff I’d forgotten to plan to take (I now have more electronic gadgetry with me than your average Circuit City), load additional programs into my laptop computer, charge camera batteries…”
But he was finally on the road only one day late. Memorial Day found Kent in western New York State:
“Many of the small towns we passed through were busy with final preparations for Memorial Day parades and other celebrations. (We had to make several detours, because policemen waved us off the main streets.) In several tiny, two-block “villages,” yellow ribbons festooned trees and telephone poles. Patriotism is strong is this part of the country…”
At the Crossbow Inn in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, Kent asked Jessica, the waitress what she recommended for dinner:
“…the Susi [sic]. It’s grilled chicken strips and home cut French fries mixed with bacon and covered with spicy ranch dressing. ‘It’s real good,’ Jessica said. ‘It’s my favorite thing to eat here.’ So Jason and I ordered a plateful, which we ate with hot sausage-onion-mushroom-pepper hoagies. The Susi was good. So were the hoagies."
That evening, Kent found himself along the southern edge of Lake Erie in Ohio:
“…huge granite boulders were laid higgledy-piggledy next to each other, separating the ‘beach’ from the icy, clear fresh water of the lake. About 25 people - children and gownups -were stretched out for maybe 300 yards, sitting on the boulders, fishing.
“It was a warm evening. Mist was rising from the water about 100 yards offshore, filtering the setting sun to a pale gold. The water lapped gently against the boulders. The air was still and quiet. So were we.”
Kent will be stopping in small towns all across the United States over the summer. Why not stop by kentsusdrive and give him a holler in the comments.
[Norm Jenson is back at The Elder Storytelling Place with a tale of schoolboy misbehavior titled "Pink Pearl".]