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Earl and I are celebrating the 7th anniversary of our legal marriage. Of course, we’ve been together over 22 years, but the government didn’t recognize our marriage until 2011. In fact, 22 years ago today I got down on one knee on top of a mountain in the Adirondacks and proposed to Earl. He said yes. Our first wedding was in December 1996. The government didn’t come on board until seven years ago today. We were legally married at a casino. We figured getting married is a gamble.

I’ve heard of heterosexual couples going to church to learn how to be married. It’s my understanding that when a couple wants to get married in a particular church, they might have to go to that church to learn how to live in wedded bliss. I don’t know what goes on in these classes, as I’ve never really felt the need to watch instructional videos on how these things work, but the concept of needing to learn how to be married strikes me as kind of odd.

One of the beautiful things that I’ve experienced for the past 22 years is that Earl and I just naturally knew how to be a couple. Our union is unique. We do marriage our way. I don’t know that we would know this much happiness if we were instructed on how to be a couple or striving to follow some sort of cookbook that someone else wrote. Who really decides what a happy marriage looks like? It’s no one’s business other than our own as to how our marriage works, just like it’s none of my business as to how my parents’ or my grandparents’ marriages worked.

Earl and I have a couple of ground rules. We are always honest with one another, our commitment is fully invested until death do us part, and outside of death, exiting the relationship is not an option. And even at death, I’m sure the dead one will haunt the live one. It’s just the way we roll.

I’ve seen so many marriages end because of jealousy. Jealousy of looking at other people, or one more successful in their career, or another jealous of hobbies and passions that may not be shared. No one can make you jealous. Jealousy is an emotion that comes from within and 99% of the time it is fueled by insecurity. Know who you are, know why you’re in love, and be honest; that’s our secret. I’d never presume to tell you how to conduct your marriage, because as I mentioned before, it’s none of my business, but if people set aside their jealousy, I’m sure there’d be more successful marriages in the world.


Earl and I drove 75 1/2 hours. In those 75 1/2 hours we passed through 13 states, finished off our quest to visit all 50 states and during this vacation we drove 4,533.3 miles.

My favorite state on this trip was Montana, though I was fascinated by the “cold desert” west of Spokane, Wash. and down through Oregon and Idaho into Nevada.

Iowa has unreasonably low speed limits on the prairie. Illinois has way too much road work. Folks west of the Missouri River drive the speed limit because it’s “reasonable and prudent”. Folks east of the Missouri River exceed the speed limit because it’s set artificially low.

Pop is a staple west of Chicago. The accent changes once once you’re away from the Great Lakes. Folks from California (in my experience) seem to be have an air of entitlement. The more rural the person, the more humble they seemed to be.

Visiting Temple Square in Salt Lake City was humbling for me. I have pondered my spirituality ever since that visit.

As the pavement passed under our tires and we made our way through new territory, I figured some things out, both professionally and personally. Unlike previous vacations where I dreaded going back to whence we came or I didn’t want to go back to work, I feel energized, ready, and excited about work on Monday. And I’m always happy to call Chicago home.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 8.

Today was a day of driving. A lot of driving. Across Wyoming and Nebraska. There’s not a lot to see. The mind does wander.

We drove from Rock Springs, Wyoming to North Platte, Nebraska today. Much of the I-80 and US 30 are one road in Wyoming, but as soon as we crossed into Nebraska, we decided to take the older road. The landscape is the same but the drive is broken up by the occasional town. That’s a welcomed change of pace.

Earl and I watched the Eagles vs Giants game at a sports bar here in North Platte. The natives were friendly. We had a great time.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 7.

Today we drove from Elko, Nevada to Rock Springs, Wyoming. We are ahead of schedule for this trip and we’ll probably be home to Chicago on Saturday at the latest. We are still having a wonderful time.

We spent a few hours in Salt Lake City visiting Temple Square, home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was moved by the experience. While I don’t agree with many religious practices, I believe there is a great value of having a belief of some sort. Personally my belief is in the Universe. I find my spiritual center with nature. Visiting Temple Square today reminded me to be humble, to listen, and to learn.

Naturally I took a lot of photos of flowers, because the Earth is very important in my spiritual beliefs.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 6.

We drove from La Grande, Oregon to Elko, Nevada. The trip from Boise to Elko was along back roads. It was nice to get off the interstate for a couple hundred miles.

We settled for the night at the Ramada Inn at the Stockman’s Casino. It wasn’t very busy and the natives were chatty. Elko has three legal brothels. We didn’t search them out. I’m pretty sure the cocktail waitress that brought me a beer was drunk out of her mind. Another woman hit on Earl and I giggled.

At the end of the evening one of the one-armed bandits gave me $500 so we decided to call it a night.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 5.

We drove from Butte, Montana to LaGrande, Oregon by way of Spokane and Richland, Washington.

I had no idea that eastern Washington State was such a “cold desert”.

The more you know.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 4.

We drove from Laurel, Montana to Butte, Montana, with seven hours at Yellowstone National Park in between.

I told Earl I’d like to come back to Yellowstone, rent an RV, and spend some time camping at the park, doing some hiking (more than we did today) and just enjoying downtime in the middle of nature. It can be winter, it can be summer, it doesn’t matter. Yellowstone is that fantastic and I could enjoy it during any season.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 3.

We spent the afternoon in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit). It is stunning. I lost myself in the beauty for a bit and it felt good. 

The prairie dogs do it right.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 2.

Earl and I drove from Tomah, Wis. to Jamestown, N.D. It’s been a misty drive, with the temperature never getting above 50ºF, but it’s been enjoyable. We’ve been singing, talking, and laughing in the Jeep.

We stopped at the Mall of America for a bit. Earl had never been there. I visited back on a solo vacation in 2013 and liked the experience. It hasn’t changed much in nearly five years, but it’s still enjoyable for a mall.

Tomorrow we continue west. We’ll finally cross into the Mountain Time Zone as we make our way across the prairie into the Badlands. We are off to a great start.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 1.

Earl and I were on the road promptly at 5:00 PM Central. We are headed west on a 10-day road trip. We have things to see, states to conquer, and relaxation to be had. I’m looking forward spending every waking moment with Earl discovering what we find.

Make life grand.