The 15th State

I am getting my Griswold on…again!

This is, to put it mildly, a surprising turn of events. A few weeks ago, I never would have dreamed I’d be hitting the road again this year. Especially for such a compellingly unexpected reason.

It’s all about a girl, you see.

A girl whom I have known for nearly nine years. We first “met” in January, 2003 – a lifetime ago for both of us. Ahh, the wonderful world of blogging! Over the years we became friends. We got to know each other intimately – sharing our deepest secrets, our darkest desires. You can’t know somebody for so long without developing attachments to that person…it’s just not possible! I care about her deeply, and she feels the same way about me. You know what’s really cool? I’ve known her mom for just as long! In fact, her mother (Tracy) was one of the first people to subscribe to my blog, and has been a longtime supporter of mine. She was the first one to finish reading my book, No Time For Kings – and gave it a very positive review on Amazon. I count both Tara and her mom as close friends, and that’s gotta be pretty rare.

I first met Tara in person this past March. She has family in the area, and was in town for a visit. We went out to lunch, spent the afternoon deep in conversation, and then parted ways. I wondered if I’d ever see her again. I certainly didn’t expect to…when we said goodbye, I thought, well, that was fun! and what a great friend she is and too bad we can’t hang out together more. That alone would make a perfectly satisfying ending to many stories. Turns out it wasn’t our end, though.

Because there’s more to the story. That great friendship of ours? It’s evolving into something more. How much more remains to be seen. I’m trying not to think too much about anything (“trying” being the operative word here) because it’s scary…but scary in a good way, if that makes sense. All I know is, right now I feel pretty damn good. It’s been awhile, and I’d like to hold onto this feeling. It’s rather intoxicating.

I have to admit, I never saw this coming. And I still don’t know what is coming. Everything feels new and fresh, despite the fact that we’ve been in touch with one another for close to a decade.

So I’m rolling the dice and taking a trip to Ely, Nevada. Ely, of all places! I never thought I’d find myself in such an isolated, rural portion of the country. During my road trip this summer, I covered fourteen states. Nevada will be the 15th I’ve visited this year. I think that’s pretty amazing. And what a reason to go!

I’ve been warned that I might not have cell phone service in Ely. I pretty much had coverage everywhere I went in June and July, except for the remotest portions of the least-traveled highways in the most isolated portions of the great plains. Computer access is certainly not a given, so don’t expect a play-by-play like you had earlier this summer. I’ll try my best, but it’s quite possible I may be completely removed from civilization for the next five days, a fact that is hard for this very plugged-in 21st-century person to imagine. And when I do come back, will I be wearing a cowboy hat and boots and a newfound outlook on life?

I have no idea. All I know is, I’ve never done anything like this before. Tomorrow morning I am leaving very early – before the sun even rises – to drive 700+ miles to rural Nevada in order to spend a few days with a girl whom I am very fond of, but one who has never been more than a friend to me…until now. This feels like something out of a movie – a really cool romantic comedy. It’s all a great big gamble. One misstep, and our entire friendship could be in jeopardy, even though we swear to each other that no matter what, that won’t happen. I sure hope not. Tara’s very special to me, and the risk of losing that tight-knit bond is almost too much to bear.

But, the idea of not seeing this through…of missing out on something that could possibly be wonderful and amazing…is even harder to bear. Life is short, and happiness is difficult to come by. Trust me, I know.

So, let’s do this thing. I am all in…and excited to see what happens next. And you know what? This just feels right. I am amazed and comforted by that…and excited as hell.

Nevada, here I come!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

31 thoughts on “The 15th State

  1. Am I going to have to teach you how to ride a horse before you go? Something tells me there are lots of ’em over thar! Have fun!!


    1. Thank you. I suppose it does take courage to take that leap into the great unknown. I just feel like I’ve got so much to gain from this trip, beginning with memories that will last a lifetime. 🙂


  2. OK, blogging buddy…as a Nevada (almost) native, I feel it’s my duty to share a few insights:

    1. Please know how to pronounce the name of the city. It’s “Ely” as in “E-lee,” not “E-lie.” They will tar and feather you if you mispronounce it. Or there might be a hangin’. Seriously.

    2. Ely bills itself as the LARGEST city in White Pine County. Which isn’t saying much — and in fact, it may be the ONLY city in White Pine County. Seriously again. 😉

    3. Take advantage of gas stations when you find them. There are stretches through rural Nevada where the closest station is 60+ miles away. With no cell service.

    4. I’ve been to Ely. It may surprise you…

    Good luck, have fun and Godspeed!



    1. Thank you for this! He makes it sounds like we barely have running water and electricity. Oh…and I already schooled him on “e-lee”. LOL


      1. LOL. I know you have running water! (Question: does it come out of pipes?). J/K!

        Thanks for the tips, Mikalee! I’ll admit I mispronounced it “E-lie” at first…but then again, so does everybody else when I tell them where I’m headed!


  3. I know we’ve already talked about a lot of this, but to have it out there for all the world to see….Woah. Kinda makes it a little more real. And I couldn’t have said any of this better. Of course, that’s why you’re the writer. 😉

    Still can’t believe you’re driving all the way to see lil ol’ me, but I promise to make your trip worth it.

    I’m excited, and scared, and happy, and loving every minute of this new journey. Almost nine years in the making, and totally worth the wait.


    1. Well, I happen to like lil ol’ you quite a bit, so it’s totally worth the trip! And I’m tired of hiding the way I feel and not being able to write about personal things – I’m ready to open up a lot more than I have before on my blog. I don’t care if the world knows! (Err, as long as you don’t care, either). 😉

      All that matters is, tomorrow I get to see you! 🙂


  4. Oh, I’m so happy for you, Mark! Now I know what you were aluding to in my recent post! This is the best news ever!

    And I need to do a review on Amazon, as well. I didn’t even think of that.

    And for those of you blog readers who haven’t bought “No Time for Kings”–you are missing out! Mark is an even better novelist than he is blogger! It’s a really fun read!



    1. Thanks, Kathy! Yes, yes…I might have been alluding to this very situation in a comment I left you a few days ago. 🙂

      And I REALLY appreciate the shout-out for my book! Thank you so very much!!


  5. *clapping and cheering wildly*

    Mark, I am soooooooo freakin’ happy and excited for you!!!!

    And you’re right…

    “This feels like something out of a movie – a really cool romantic comedy.”

    In fact, that’s what thinking when I was reading this post. Sorta like, “Sleepless In Seattle!”

    And I so admire you for doing this inspite of feeling nervous, but doing it anyway. That takes courage!

    From what you’ve shared with us, it sounds like you have a special and bond between the two of you. So, regardless of whether or not it moves into another dimension or not, you’ll ALWAYS have your friendship.

    You GO, boy!

    I look forward to hearing all about it when you return. And don’t worry about updating your blog while you’re gone if you can’t. Because your fans will be here awaiting you!

    Have GREAT and SAFE trip, Mark!


    1. Hmm…”Not Nodding Off In Nevada” maybe? “Ewake In Ely”?

      Thanks for your encouragement, Ron! You only get to embark upon this great adventure called Life one time…might as well make the most of it!


      1. Geez, Mark, do I need to come up with ALL your catchphrases! It’s “Necking in Nevada” (gettin’ my inner old fart on!), or perhaps “Eskimo kisses is Ely.”

        Just don’t show Tara your post about geoduck on your first date! Ew. And wash your hands! 😛

        Break a leg, Mark, I’m so happy for you!


  6. WoooooHoooooooo!! I’ve been waitin’ all day long to come home and read this and I am NOT disappointed!! Of course, I’ve never been disappointed in anything you write and tell me Mark…how does it feel to be batting a 1000 with moi?

    I really think and feel this trip is going to be what you both need. It’s going to be very interesting on my end to see where all this leads. I’m curious as to what you’ll think of Ely…like I said before, it’s nothing like it was in the 70’s but you’ll like it just fine me thinks…and let me know what you think of “ironport.” One of the best drinks EVER and the only place I know to get one is at Economy Drug.

    Have a safe trip Mark and give my daughter a big ol’ hug for me!!

    *Doing the happy dance about being immortalized in your blog!!*

    Thank you very much!!


    1. Who wouldn’t want to be batting 1.000 with the mother of the girl you’re dating? LOL. This is definitely a unique situation…when we finally meet in person, it’ll feel like I’ve known you for years! Mostly because…I’ve known you for years! Definitely takes some of the pressure off. 🙂

      I am super excited about Ely and will definitely try the ironport you mention. Just think, you’ll get to read all about it here (and I’m sure I’ll have a million pictures, too).


  7. Ok, I missed this originally (or rather, I saw it but hadn’t had a chance to read it until now) and I hope you have an AMAZING time. I can’t wait to hear all about it. ❤ Safe travels. 🙂


  8. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to read this! I vaguely remember you talking about dating someone a long time ago, but then nothing since, so I figured it must not be working out. You sound so happy and so excited in this post and it’s wonderful to see you that way. I also find it so romantic that you are traveling so far for her! Can’t wait to hear all about it.


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