Wednesday, July 30, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

California Rambling: On the road to recovery

devils tower

KAY MORRIS-ROBERTSON'S RV is shown on one leg of its journey. Morris-Robertson went on a three-year, 80,000-mile road trip across all 50 states. Courtesy photo

By
From page A4 | December 09, 2013 |

After losing her husband unexpectedly, Englishwoman Kay Morris-Robertson began a road to recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by undertaking a three-year, 80,000-mile road trip across all 50 U.S. states.

The first place she visited was chosen serendipitously. Albuquerque just happened to be atop the list of departures at Los Angeles International Airport the day she decided living alone in L.A. wasn’t helping and that she needed to get away.

Thereafter, she bought an RV and “just set off with no clue on where to go.” B followed for Bend, Ore. and C for Coney Island. Before eventually finishing at Z for Zion National Park in Utah, she realized the concept of her eventual book, “A to Zee Across America.” Morris-Robertson would: 1) visit towns in alphabetical order, 2) avoid major cities and 3) ask Americans where to go next.

In her words, this often “meant traveling thousands and thousands of miles between where I was and where I was going next.” Votes came in by Facebook, through her Website and by speaking with people along the way.

“Fairly early on, people started to get more involved than just voting, giving me souvenirs from all across America. Hats, stickers, cuddly toys, you name it,” she said. As she got more and more things, Morris-Robertson stuck them to the side of her RV, attracting police patrols who would stop her just for a picture with Morris-Robertson and her famous RV. The memorabilia-clad RV, which she named “Reggie,” eventually found a home at the Lemay Automobile Museum in Tacoma, Wash., where it is exhibited today.

Morris-Robertson’s book is about the places she visited as she zig-zagged across the country, so it’s not the kind of guidebook one can follow, without retracing her arduous three-year trek, though it is full of entertaining observations about the places she visited. Mostly, “A to Zee Across America” is about discovery … discovering the value within oneself and within random, often unexpected, places.

It is also about the recuperative value of travel.

Kay Morris-Robertson’s journey began in 2008, when she was offered a promotion from the Westfield office in London to live and work in Los Angeles.

Life was good in L.A. until her husband died of a heart attack while sailing. Following the funeral, Morris-Robertson returned to work, though increasingly began experiencing PTSD. Months later, the illness had progressed deeply.

WebMD reports that PTSD patients often experience flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares and other things that remind them of what they experienced. They can feel detached, isolated and lose interest in things they once enjoyed. And, they can have emotional swings including irritability, jumpiness and angry outbursts, as well as physical dysfunctions. These can have disastrous effects on relationships whether they be at work, home or among friends.

PTSD is often associated with servicemen and women who return after experiencing traumatic events in wartime, though the mental health community now knows it can happen to anyone who experiences a sudden loss or trauma.

After Morris-Robertson approached her employer for help, she was reported to have been detained the following day and taken to a mental institution where she was held — against her objections — for 10 days. That involuntary incarceration and treatment led to a successful lawsuit against her employer for failure to accommodate disability, failure to engage in interactive process, disability discrimination and violation of the California Family Rights Act, among others.

Following resolution of the case, a doctor recommended that she would do better if she got away from L.A. near where her husband had died. That motivated the journey and led to her writing the book.

Morris-Robertson discovered what world travelers have known for years, that travel separates us from our everyday concerns. It connects us, as travel journalist Rick Steves says, with the wonders of our world, with nature, with other cultures and with people who appear different, but who we find through traveling are very much like us.

People often are reluctant to travel because they fear its consequences. Though Steves says, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much.”

In Morris-Robertson’s case, traveling the USA led her out of the mental crisis she was experiencing. She wrote, “One thing I had proven to myself, was that no matter how dark my tortuous battle with mental health issues had been, if I simply kept going, regardless of the path, one day I would get somewhere. Even if it wasn’t where I thought it would be when I took the first step.”

More about PTSD and Kay Morris-Robertson’s journey can be found at ptsd.va.gov www.atozeeacrossamerica.com.

John Poimiroo of El Dorado Hills is a travel writer who specializes in California destinations.

Comments

comments

.

News

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

 
Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

 
Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3

.

Opinion

My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

 
Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

 
Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8

.

Prospecting

Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

 
Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

 
Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

 
Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

 
Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

 
Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5

.

Essentials

Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics

.

Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17