On the back roads of yesteryear

I should be writing. Writing things other than this blog. Really, really should. I can’t tell you how far I am in the hole, word-debt-wise. But hey, that’s why this blog started, right? This is what I write when I’m not Writing.

Yesterday, while I was not Writing, I found myself uploading all of my photos from my roadtrip. Luckily it wasn’t that huge a job; back in 2004, the images on the disc they gave you would barely be considered web-worthy nowadays, resolution-wise.

I can’t tell you how sad I am that I didn’t document it more thoroughly. I was so sure I would remember everything. I took photos and blogged, certain that whatever I left out of the public eye, my own memory would fill in on later perusals.

Lesson learned. My memory sucks. Document everything, make it all public (cuz otherwise you’ll lose it, and hey, a life lived in public is a life without shame) (mostly).

For example. Somehow it seems that I never blogged about the Troll Tree (not that I can find, anyway).

tree in minneapolis with a little door at its base
The Minneapolis Troll Tree

Before leaving home, and at every possible point along the way, I asked friends and strangers what sights and sites they loved in America. Not the ones in the guidebooks, not the awe-inspiring places or the Parks full of Natural Wonder. The little spots. The bits and pieces that are mostly overlooked, but that hold a bit of wonder, for at least one person.

Some people looked at me in confusion, and said, “Well, you have to see Yellowstone.” Phlbbt. Others gave me some great tips, and some led me to places that even had me wondering what on earth they saw in them.

One friend, Carrie, knew exactly what I meant. “The Troll Tree!” she immediately burst out with. “You have to visit the Troll Tree!”

She had grown up in Minneapolis, running field and track, and she often ran around one of the darling lakes they have in the city there. (I’m sorry; this is where my lost notes let me down. There’s more than one lake. This was by one of them. Maybe not knowing which one makes the search even more fun!)

She had a favorite spot on her route, a tree by a little bridge, with a knot hole at the bottom that someone had fashioned a door to cover. Over the years, kids (and a few wacky adults) had started to leave treats for the troll outside its door, along with a little note, sometimes of thanks, sometimes begging the troll to grant a wish.

It’s tiny. It’s not much to see. Most people run right by it. But it was probably one of the most magical places I visited, on a late fall afternoon, leaving my honorarium of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Jelly Beans and my note.

The here and now is looking a bit bleak. I’m one of the people running by the little treasures, and it’s starting to get to me. Work is crazy, with 12-hour days common, and 16-hour days not unheard of. I commute with my eyes on the tailpipe ahead of my, plugged into my news podcast.

I need a reboot. I need a roadtrip. I know these little wonders are not just in someone else’s city, they are all around me, but I’m just not seeing them. It’s time to consciously break out and open my eyes again, ’cause I miss being the person that sees those things.

Next week. Okay, maybe after Christmas. Oooo, Ireland in March! My goal is to reboot before then, so I can completely enjoy myself on my very first European visit.


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