Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Great American Road Trip

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." - St. Augustine

   Hitting the road in one week. Packing a bag on Wednesday night. Getting up early on Thursday morning. Loading a cooler with some snacks. Picking out some good driving music. Heading south from Chicago. Driving down the length of Illinois, across a chunk of southeastern Missouri, passing through a small patch of Arkansas, and landing in Memphis.

   A view of middle America from behind the windshield. Small towns, expansive farms, and a few remaining wooded areas. Giant trucks and sprawling gas stations under a big open sky. Many things in the less populated regions of this country seem massive. Caricatures of their urban cousins. Enormous churches, billboards, and tractors, all dwarf their condensed urban equivalents. Yet they remain small ornaments on the landscape of their rural home. Pieces of the quiet beauty that blankets the roads and fields and homes of the region.

   There may not be an American tradition that I am more in love with, than The Great American Road Trip. Some of my favorite childhood memories come from just such trips. Wood paneled station wagon. Mom behind the wheel. Cans of pop and bologna sandwiches. Four kids sprawled out in the car. Windows down, with feet hanging out in wind. Pumping our arms at the trucks we passed and the gleeful laughter that followed the blasting of their horns. Laughter derived from the idea that we knew of a secret language. One that belonged to children and truck drivers alone.

   We carefully noted the license plates from different states. Some clue seeping in. A clue of the vast world outside of our small one. And special reverence was reserved for those plates from the furthest corners of the country.

   There will be no small children in the car for this trip. But the feeling is similar. The feeling of exploration. Me and Abby. Exploring the countryside. Exploring Memphis. Exploring our sense of what we can and can not do. Questioning boundaries. On the road. The peaceful hum of steady movement all around us. A quiet engine. Rubber tires on asphalt. A reclined passenger seat. Slowing the world down, while simultaneously rocketing through it. And embracing the feeling, even if only for a little while, that maybe we could just keep moving forever.

(Thanks for the road trips mom!)


  1. I really loved this post! Beautiful description of rural America- real depth there- you hit emotion and visuals. And a great, transporting description of those childhood trips. And I FREAKIN' love that quote!!

  2. And Miss Abby- I had my fingers crossed for you on your FIRST MARATHON!! I hope you really loved it and you darn well better be proud of yourself.