8154 SNEAK PEAK: New Introduction

While working on my new book 8154, I had written the typical generic introduction to the book.  However, since returning in late February, the world has changed dramatically.  As a result, I have totally reworked my introduction to the upcoming book of our amazing road trip to the West Coast.  As I have written before, this trip took us over 8000 miles through 20 states and much more.  Some of my earlier blog posts have detailed parts of this trip.  But, on this date (September 16, 2020) the United States is nearing 200,000 deaths as a result of the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 and it is much greater worldwide, the country’s economy has taken a terrible downward turn and hundreds of businesses have dropped off of the face of the earth, the country is divided with racist riots, political divides and more as we approach a presidential election in November. We have seen more terrible hurricanes and flooding.  And, as I write this, the west coast of the United States, which we traveled extensively in February, is experiencing the worst outbreaks of massive fires in their history.  Indeed, as can be seen from the photo on the left, taken on September 15, the smoke from these fires has reached Kentucky and blocks the sun.  With all of this, my heart is breaking and is grateful at the same time as my family has been spared from the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been protected from the fires and the floods and other disasters.  All of my family has also survived the economic disaster as all have remained employed so far.  Following is the new introduction to my upcoming book, which I composed yesterday.

8154 Introduction

Heading north to South Dakota on Nebraska Highway 2 north of Alliance

As I look back on our trip in January and February 2020, I can’t fathom how fortunate we were.

Driving through the northern plains in winter is sheer craziness. But, somehow, good weather and good fortune opened the doors along the way. Roads and parks closed by snow just a day before were opened for us. Highways were cleared in the nick of time. A bubble of safety seemed to surround us.

Mount Rushmore as seen from a tunnel on Iron Mountain Road. The tunnel was built intentionally to frame the monument

As we pulled into Port Orchard, WA on February 1, we had no idea that we were just a couple days ahead of a pandemic that would wreak untold havoc on our country and the world. Indeed, COVID-19 would follow us down the Pacific Coast Highway as we enjoyed the lovely calm before the terrible storm.

Shining sea of Pacific Ocean near Langlois, Oregon on US 101

Then, as if COVID-19 wasn’t enough, the roads we traveled in Oregon and California were hit with more destruction in September as massive historic fires burned many of the lovely redwood forests and other lands along the coast. Some of the friends we visited in Oregon and California were displaced by these massive fires. Sequoia National Park was evacuated by all staff and closed down due to fire just two days ago.

Grandkids at Sequoia National Park in February 2020

Indeed, many of the lovely sights we beheld will no longer be the same..for years to come. Many of the places we visited have closed down due to the pandemic or have burned to the ground. The world as we saw it in February is no longer the world that can be seen today.  As of this writing the Big Basin Redwoods State Park north of Santa Cruz, CA has lost its visitor’s center and quite a few trees. Over 1500 structures had been destroyed in Santa Cruz county by Sept. 14.

A lovely view of Big Sur as seen from CA Hwy 1

I count myself and my family fortunate and blessed to have had so many lucky breaks, beautiful opportunities and great memories.

Visiting Grand Canyon National Park in mid-February

At the same time, my heart breaks for the 1000s and 1000s that we’re in the paths of the pandemic and the fires that followed behind us.  For the next few years, many may not get to see some of the sights we experienced on our trip.  These will be cherished memories for all of us. It is my hope that you will live the trip through the words and photos included in this book.  And, while reading, please have happy thoughts and meaningful prayers for all that have suffered and even died since the days following our trip in February through now.


I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  Stories, including the one above, will be included. You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l