Phil Greenspun was/is a lecturer at MIT. He had a pet Dog, George. George went everywhere with him. Work, home, walks, I think even out to eat. George was more a companion than a pet. When George died, it hit Phil pretty hard, so he dropped everything and took a cross country trip to rediscover himself. He also took his camera and lap top and documented the trip.
I had been doing a bunch of point and shoot photography, then I read Phil's travel log and I wished I could write about and photgraph life around me as well as he does. I saved up, bought a Cannon Elan IIe, and started avidly taking pictures.
It is an excellent example of how to turn greif into something positive, and how people recover.
Anyway, Phil went on to found photo.net and write a couple technical books.
Here is the story, Travels With Samantha.
And after reading it, let me know if you feel up for a road trip? :-)