The last hiatus...for now.

Please excuse the recent radio silence emitted from this platform. For a lingering moment longer, I'll be in Seattle. I've been charging up after my most recent research road trips and getting ready for what's on deck to round out the summer. The first of those recent rollers took me to D.C. and the surrounding states. It was a trip that featured some long hours, but I was still able to mix it up in ways that I love. I soaked up the hot, walkable history on display at Fort McHenry. I got lost in the mix of permanent exhibits (love those Presidential portraits) and a special show of artifacts from the War of 1812 within the National Portrait Gallery (part of the Smithsonian Institution). I even managed to play the full-on inspired tourist, best exemplified by the lump lodged in my throat 'round sunset at the Jefferson Memorial. I didn't melt. It was grand.

Thereafter, I endured Delta losing my bag two separate times in 36 hours. I only mention it to blunt any anticipated surprise for what Delta may do to me next. Although if they lose my bag on this Saturday's direct flight to the Minneapple, I will begin to seriously doubt this as anything related to karma. Wait - I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Especially since I've not even mentioned the better part of a week I spent in Utah. I'm sounding awfully repetitive, but I fell hard for the Utahns met there - no matter how much I disagree with their collective moniker. Most of my time was spent in either Salt Lake City or Park City. I had great luck with a first foray into the genealogy resources and friendly Mormons to be found at their main Family History Library. I joined the chorus of appreciation for the fresh and stylish Natural History Museum of Utah (just opened in late 2011 - well worth a visit, especially if you've got kiddos to entertain). On the Park City side, chief among my enjoyed distractions were my visits to the Utah Olympic Park. Seeing kids doing acrobatic splashdowns into the pool off the ski jumps was the best display of exuberant rewards I saw on the whole trip. Although my morning runs up to that same park were a close second.

As a general summary of these field research trips, I'm glad to report I repeatedly found myself chucking old uninformed thoughts as I wrestled with newly unearthed inconsistencies. At this particular moment, I'm pulling together big ol' bundle of details to prepare for my final 10-day trip through the upper Midwest. But it's healthy to step back and see that this will complete nearly a year's travels that have taken me into parts of 14 American states and the District of Columbia, 2 Canadian Provinces and China. I've gathered nearly 5 days of audio tape from interviews and hundreds of pages of notes. All to what end? Well...that's coming. Regardless, it has been a glorious trip - not that it's over. Just transitioning. Here's hoping that even something as minor as a lost bag doesn't detract from the clarified focus I feel I've earned to use as I pull up to this next fork in the road.