Open Road Project: West Virginia and Chicago

7 Jun

When I’m on a vacation, be it a month-long backpacking trip or weekend jaunt, each day I plan to leave a section of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road. I might leave it in a B&B guestbook, tuck a note behind a hotel painting or write it on a dollar bill I spend at a hot dog stand. In any case, I’ll be tracking where I leave the poem here. I call it The Open Road Project.  Click on the stanzas below to find out where they’ve been left and track the poem’s progress here.

The blog posts have been sparse lately because I’ve been out of town for almost two weeks straight– in West Virginia for a lovely Memorial Day weekend and in Chicago for a dear friend’s wedding.  The trips were so whirlwind, in fact, that I didn’t do a great job leaving the poem during my travels.  I did manage to remember a few sections, though…

We took a trip with a few Knoxville friends to West Virginia over Memorial Day and had a grand ol’ time.  We spent time in an Irish Pub, in a cold river, in a giant firework shop, at our friends’ lovely homes, gathered around a table sharing delicious food and underneath an amazingly starry sky watching fireworks.  All in all, it was a pretty amazing trip.

I left the 35th section of the poem at a little wine, beer and spirits store in Lewisburg, West Virginia.  They had a great selection of beer for such a small shop, so it only seemed fitting to leave the poem tucked into the shelves of beer.

“Here is the efflux of the soul, the efflux of the sould comes from within through embowered gates.”

I left the 36th section of the poem at Greenbriar River, where we went for an afternoon swim on our last day in West Virginia.  Actually, it was more like an afternoon wade since the water was still a little too chilly, and the current a little too strong, for actual swimming.

“Ever provoking questions, these yearning why are they? These thoughts in the darkness why are they?”

I really slacked leaving the poem around Chicago.  I was a part of the bridal party, so there was lots to distract me.  I did manage to leave the 37th section of the poem at the rehearsal dinner, which was held at a little Polish restaurant called Smak-Tak, where we feasted on meatballs, dumplings, chicken, rice and countless salads and side dishes.  It was a pretty perfect way to start a wedding-centered weekend.

“Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood?”

Where the poem’s been so far:


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