Open Road Project Goes Overseas

7 Aug

It’s been awhile, friends.  Sorry for my absence these last few weeks.  I was so busy enjoying a vacation to Spain and Scotland that I completely forgot to blog!  Have no fear, though.  I’m back and ready to blog.  But before I get back to my crafty and domestic blogging, let me tell you the fabulous places I’ve left Walt  Whitman’s Song of the Open Road. 

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.

We started our trip in Madrid, where we ate our weight in tapas, drank countless pitchers of sangria and walked all over that magnificent city.

I left the 40th sections of the poem at a Belgium bar, where we stopped for mussels and beer after a loooong couple of plane rides.  I was tired and cranky when we first arrived in Madrid, but after a nap in our hotel and a stroll around the pedestrian mall, I was totally happy and relaxed by the time we sat down for a snack.

What gives me to be free to a woman’s and man’s good will? What gives them to be free to mine?

The second night in Madrid, we ate at the oldest operating restaurant in the world, the Sobrino de Botin, where I feasted on chicken and the best artichoke hearts I’ve ever tasted.  And sangria, of course.  After dinner we relaxed in Arab baths, where we alternated between hot, cold and warm baths and the hottest steam room I’ve ever been inside of. This is where I left the 41st section of the poem.

The efflux of the soul is happiness, here is happiness.  I think it pervades to open air, waiting at all times.  Now it flows unto us, we are rightly charged.

I left the 43rd section of the poem at the Prado museum, where I absolutely fell in love with The Garden of Earthy Delights by Bosch.  I know he was trying to warn of the dangers of hedonistic living, but I thought the garden looked pretty fun. I left the poem tucked away with the muse of epic poetry, who sat in stone with her other 6 muse friends.

Here rises the fluid and attaching character, the fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman (the herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself).

On our third night in Madrid, we were upgraded to a new hotel room, which overlooked the pedestrian mall on which our hotel was located.  One of the best parts of our time in Madrid was the time we spent on the balcony, watching people walk by until the wee hours of the morning.  On our third night, I folded the 43rd section of the poem into a paper airplane and sent it into the night.

Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old. From its falls distilled the charm that mocks beauty and attainments. Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.

After our time in Madrid, we flew to Edinburgh, Scotland.  Our first full day there, we headed to the Grassmarket, a fun section of town full of funky shops.  My very favorite of said shops was Demijohn, a “liquid deli” specializing in artisan-made liqueurs, whiskeys and infused oils & vinegars.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to find this shop.  I actually ended up returning a week later to buy more fun liqueurs and was delighted to find the 44th open road card I’d left pinned up behind the cash register.

Allons! Whoever you are come travel with me! Traveling with me you find what never tires.

We were lucky enough to stay right next to the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, where we visited and spent time wandering, admiring and lazing around.  I left the 45th section of the poem in a very funky tree I found there.

The earth never tires, the earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first.  Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first. Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d. I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

After our time in Edinburg, we headed to the Isle of Skye in the Highlands of Scotland, where we enjoyed fantastic drives along the coast full of beautiful scenery and lots of sheep.  I left the 46th section of the poem at an adorable little cafe called Red Skye in Upper Breakish, where I feasted on mussels and beer yet again.  This section of the poem sums up the whole vacation, pretty much.

Allons! We must not stop here, however sweet these laid up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here, however sheltered this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here, however welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

And finally, I left the 48th section of the poem at a fantastic beach we found on the Isle of Skye.  Rather than sand, the beach was made of pieces of white coral.  I had fun sifting through and finding pieces to take home.  As we were walking back from the beach, I realized I hadn’t left the open road card and found it had fallen from my pocket somewhere along the way.

Allons!  Yet take warning! He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance.  None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health.  Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself.  Only those may come who come in sweet determined bodies. No diseased person, no rum drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip.  I’d be sad to return home if there weren’t a boatload of fresh homegrown tomatoes waiting for us in the garden as we arrived home.

Where the poem’s been so far:

Second to last two photos by Shawn Poynter.  For more of his instagram photos, check out Over the Transom.


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