INSTALLMENT #1 TRAVELOGUE OF 2 SISTERS ROAD TRIP
Have you ever made so many U-turns you’re not sure if you are headed back to the beginning or on a completely different route?
That recently happened to me on a road trip. Best laid plans and all that! Had maps marked, turn-by-turn directions, GPS, and many other devices that should have made the traveling a little easier. But, you know, when you pass up that exit and you’re in the wrong lane, things fall apart right then.
And it doesn’t even have to be on a multi-lane interstate. It can be a highway junction in a small town that throws you off. Seems more and more junctions are being laid out to give an “easier” way around the town. Large or small, roads can get you mis-routed in an instant.
So after you try a couple of new perspectives on it and you’ve still not found your connection, you do the unthinkable: ASK FOR DIRECTIONS FROM A LOCAL. That doesn’t often turn out well even from the first statement when they begin:
You know where the old post office was? Well, you go down four or five or maybe six blocks and you turn by the old gas station. ‘course it’s closed down now and they’ve bulldozed it all down and widened the street there. I think it’s a flea market now or something.”
If I knew things like that and if I was from ‘round these parts’ I probably wouldn’t be asking for directions. Just then another voice chimes in:
“You know where old man Smith’s place is? It’s past that a bit…can’t miss it”
Oh, my, hasn’t that been helpful? You smile and return to the car and try to readjust your antennae…and, with a renewed spirit you start toward the old post office.
But I’ve learned in traveling (as in life) if you have to turn around and try again, something different will happen. It won’t be the same journey [even if you do see old man Smith’s place]…and you may still be lost. Why didn’t you ask them to draw you a map? But then why would their map be any better than all the ones you got from the travel agent, the state or the one you pulled up on your smart phone?
Oh, gosh, do you think that place we just passed was old man Smith’s!! I know the guy said ‘can’t miss it’ but I think we just did.
On one dreary afternoon when my sister and I realized we weren’t anywhere close to being able to tackle the up-coming city (because of an “alternate” road we’d taken in our approach), we made a major decision. We just threw all caution to the wind, tossed the state & city map into the back seat and braved the city one street at a time.
My comment was: You know our parents and grandparents traveled across this great United States in the 30s,40s & 50s with no map. Surely we can do it.
And we did. We found more things in that city than they’ve ever put on a tourist guide. We found beautiful scenery, expensive homes in a well-to-do suburb (even a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house). We located and identified six various kinds of art deco architecture within a 4-block area of downtown. We tasted that city’s grit to grime believing our new route through the run-down section would connect to another road. It did…just not the right road. When we photographed our last shot in the dying sunset, we found the right highway connect. At that moment we felt we had enjoyed that city more than any that could be on our trip.
If you missed the turns in your life, you’ve got some options:
- You can make a u-turn and head back looking at it from the other side
- You can analyze that if you “square it off” you’ll get right back where you were before (but remember…you were lost then, too)
- You can take the new directions from the locals and get a chance to see that old post office
- You can throw up your hands, toss the map out the window and wing it from there and see something else that wasn’t even on your list.
You can do any of these things…and none are really wrong decisions.
But, failing to try again can be the most unpleasant of all. You’ll never get on the right road if you don’t turn around; you’ll never get to see the old post office and you’ll miss the entire journey.
Be brave! U-turn now…go back and see where you missed that turn…go back and try it again! Remember the last time you missed a turn and you just kept going? Yes, you do remember how that turned out, don’t you? Make some decision…because indecision is the same as standing still.
You’ll never know what you’ll discover on “alternate” roads. Here’s a few things I would have missed if I’d followed the exact directions.
Solitary road found during a U-turn in TX
Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in Tulsa
Gates swinging open at Graceland
Monument to school desegregation in Little Rock
Rock of Ages Farm Barn Route 66 OK
Smallest portion of Route 66 (13 miles) in KS
Town of Santa Claus IN – decorated 365 days a year and lights turned on each night
Quiet road found during U-turn in TN
Metal from World Trade Center sculpture (ORNL)
Oak Ridge TN
Cumberland River in downtown Nashville
Directions are easier to see once you turn around!
I can’t guarantee you’ll find exactly what you are looking for with a U-turn or change in direction. I can guarantee that it’s different–and isn’t that what we are hoping when we’ve realized we made the wrong turn?
I looked into the sun, squinting to make out the road sign; As I U-turned to look from the other side, it was clear. Not clear that I ‘d found what I needed but clear I was lost. Sometimes, discovering you are lost is as good as knowing where you are. Make the journey; start the adventure; map it out; But when best laid plans come up short, make a new plan. Never too late to start a new journey on an old road.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO SOMEWHERE…and that’s where I’ve been for the past month. After 28 days on the road; after crossing 11 states and 15 major rivers…a familiar road led me back home!
After nearly 3,600 miles, I can truly say each turn and each straightaway brought unexpected views and amazing vistas. Some were paths; some were dirt roads; some historic drives; some interstate highways; and some should not have even been where they were!
I believe even more now than before that there’s only one reason I venture down the pathways of life…and that is to find New Journeys on Old Roads.
Welcome back! I’ll begin posting stories, photos, trip routes and ramblings over the next few weeks. Follow along…let’s travel across this great country of ours. See part of America through my eyes!
Over the next 30 days I’ll be posting pictures of America at her best…from the Arbuckle Mountains to the Ozarks; the Smokies to the Appalachians…crossing rivers, skirting lakes…walking Beale Street and Main Street…crossing 11 state lines and driving some of the remaining original segments of the Mother Road (Route 66).
If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a ROAD TRIP through some of the country’s historical landmarks, roads and byways, maybe you’ll remember some of your past travels or get the map out and plan your next one.
Because it’s springtime, roadsides and highways should be teeming with wildflowers. We will stop to capture as many as we can.
Some of the best places are off the main road.
It’s the moments you take the time to explore an old road, a quaint bridge, a field of flowers, or Small Town, USA that will fill your heart with joy and your photo albums with memories.
…and doing it all with your best friend & sister…priceless!
Hold on! Here We Go!
Click to hear “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash
Have you been there?Leave me a comment and let me know how you’re enjoying the drive. Let’s share America with everyone.
Fields, roadsides & ranch lands are in full bloom.
Texas wildflowers have arrived!Bluebonnets and Brown Eyed Susan Indian Paintbrush and Indian Blanket Evening Primrose – from white to lavender to pink
Bitterweed and cactus blooms The scenes look like a Monet painting.
Wildflowers always surprise me when they shoot forth randomly among grass, rock and hard dirt. They are a bit like your life being interrupted with troubles. Neither worries nor wildflowers seem to care when or where they appear. They are just there!
Does a problem, concern, or fear seem to appear out of nowhere? It’s like that with wildflowers, too. A week ago there were no blossoms. It even seemed maybe they wouldn’t come this year–like something or someone had intervened and there would be no wildflowers. But they’re here!
Do you think you could learn to see a purpose and beauty in the thing that appears uninvited in your life? Like some folks, I tend to want to spend some time with my worries. I want to bemoan them, even show them off to others.
There’s another similarity between your worries and wildflowers. They are right in front of you. If you think you can just hurry down the highway and ignore them…think again! The same is true with your worries. You can’t ignore them or outrun them. There’s a formula for dealing with both–your worries and wildflowers. You must:
Stop and face them.
Spend time with them.
We know Bluebonnets don’t have to face the fear of spring storms, the pain of hail, the pounding rain or the long-suffering drought alone–because they are joined by their friends: Indian Blankets, Paint Brush, Evening Primrose, Bitterweed and Brown-eyed Susan. Like the Texas Bluebonnet, we are not alone.
Just as hard as it was for the wildflower to work its way up through rock and limestone, your worries will push through to your thoughts. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if your next worries looked a little more like the wildflower that comes but then goes.
There are rules about each–worries and wildflowers. They are there to remind you that pleasant or unpleasant surprises often catch us unaware. Here’s another rule about wildflowers and worries.
Don’t pick them.
They are not yours.
Leave them there.
…And when you turn away from the wildflowers…or the worries…
when you need to get back to your journey…
you’ll leave less burdened…more joyous…
and ready for your next experience.
There are no rules for architecture for a castle in the clouds
G. K. Chesterton
It was just a spur of the moment trip. I really had not planned to go anywhere last Friday, but there I was, driving west and headed to an old familiar place. I’d taken this road many times—back and forth to my dad’s place over the last 30 years. The road felt like an old friend. I knew where each turn was, where the speed traps were, and how far it was to the next bathroom. I knew where you had to stop and fill up with gas because THAT gas station was always the cheapest. And I would stop there again–just because. I knew I could make the trip in less than 4 hours.
You start off heading west on Interstate 20 as if you were going to California—because, if you don’t stop for several days, that’s where you’ll be—or at least El Paso for an overnight stop! In El Paso, you can catch Interstate 10 and then scoot across the edge of New Mexico around Las Cruces and Lordsburg. From there it’s just hours on to Tucson. That’s where your compass might become confused because you come to a crossroads.Crossroads can sometimes be confusing if you don’t have a clear idea of what your final destination is. But I didn’t need a map today…I knew the road and my destination.
From Tucson, you can continue to California by taking a hard northwest on to Phoenix and then set your sites on The Los Angeles area. Of course, don’t get me wrong…that’s more than the 4 hour trip that I’m making to west Texas…but if the music on the CD is right and the gasoline card and credit card have enough available balance, I just might keep on those west-bound roads and be sipping a cool drink on the pier in Santa Monica. Tempting!
But I’ve overshot my daydreaming just a bit. I’ve just arrived near the small town of Cisco TX so this is one place I have to make a decision. Do I make that south turn and go on to my dad’s place—or do I set out on a 5-day trip that takes me all the way to California.
I know deep down he would think the trip west was a good idea. He traveled all of those roads for many years and told great stories of traveling across the US during the depression and WWII years working when they could.
I would love nothing more than to sit with him again and hear all those great stories. But a few years ago, his life, well-lived, came to a close. I’ve gone back only a couple of times since then…and maybe that’s enough…to see if everything is still the same in the town’s rock-road cemetery. What do I expect will change about it? I don’t know, but it feels as if I ought to watch over his place like he always watched over me.
…could do anything—and I mean ANYTHING! A carpenter by trade, that didn’t stop him from fixing my dainty jewelry, helping with homework, building a house for us, or making sure that we had enough to survive.Seems it didn’t take as much in those days to get through—something about our greedy desires have increased since the 50s & 60s. What we didn’t know about, we didn’t need.
A town of about 5,500 located in the geographic heart of Texas, Brady had been a place I had looked forward to visiting every summer when I was a little girl. My mother and dad would go for a visit to my Mama’s & Papa’s house there, and I’d get to stay for a couple of weeks.
That was just great—especially when I was the last of the cousins (and the youngest of a dozen) to still think it was cool to be gone for a couple of weeks in the summertime staying with some old people. My Papa grew vegetables and they had chickens. I didn’t like that at all so I’d just stand at the wire and watch my Mama feed the chickens from the pockets of her always-present apron.
My Papa would pick and dig up vegetables and put them on the big picnic table under the tree to ripen. I could already imagine those juicy tomatoes, that warm yellow watermelon, and those snap peas cooked in a big pot with potatoes!
Yes, my grandparents were old, but I didn’t mind because I was alone with them and my thoughts. They had lessons to teach if I would just listen.
The town hasn’t changed too much from those days. The roads are still made of shale rock and unpaved in most of the town. Many of the old houses still look like they did when we would drive slowly (because everything in that town was/is slow) to the town square.
The square, built around an old county courthouse constructed in 1878, never changed. There were maybe 40 stores around that square. As I drive in today, some are still closed up and some have transitioned from a theater to a hardware store, to a boutique, to a coffee shop, to another empty store in a dying commerce of downtown shops.
My destination is just a little off the square northwest on Highway 87 There, in the constantly blowing wind of west Texas, is the old cemetery. My dad’s place is looking sleek and clean—because nothing can stay long under that incessant wind. I tell him how much I love him, think to myself of how hard he worked, how much he liked Country Music & TV, how much he loved me from the time I could remember to those recent few years ago. Many times he rode his white horse (really a brown Ford pickup truck) to save me from a bad decision I had made or a situation that surprisingly turned bad.
I put some yellow roses in the vase near his name with birth and death dates. Then I blow him a kiss and let the wind clear my eyes. The skies look clear out here because the wind just blows the clouds out of those west Texas skies. I look up and I feel the power of God in that wind and I know my daddy is resting in His arms.
I’ll get another cherry coke and start that ride back. It’s less than 4 hours. When I get to the crossroad again, I’ll turn east back into central Texas. El Paso, Las Cruces, Phoenix and Santa Monica will have to wait for another time.
Driving away from the setting sun with the road humming along and my music set to old country music–the kind my daddy loved. I start to sing along, like my daddy always did. I felt sad but comforted by the trip to my daddy’s place.
In some ways, today I carved out a new journey down this old road. Traveling never looks the same when your purpose changes.
It’s good to know God will help you if you develop a new vision
or if you need to take a new journey
even if it is down an old road.
When you are traveling, it helps to have a clear conviction of where you want to be. If you think the path is leading you in the wrong direction…do something about it.
A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.