Saturday, May 11, 2013
One of the best things about driving in the country is, well, driving in the country. You just get in the car and within half an hour of leaving the city you're surrounded by rolling hills and, in my case, lots and lots of prairie. I love it! Don't get me wrong. I don't live under any false pretenses that I'm a country girl. I was born in a California city and have living in either smallish towns or cities ever since. The country has never been my thing, as much as I wish it were. But I love the breath of fresh air it brings to my soul.
The blacktop just clicks along under my tires, the ever-present Wal-mart vanishes, leaving in its wake small-town grocery stores and those Mom and Pop cafes that tend to die out on a monthly basis in the big city. It's beautiful and refreshing and when I leave the city behind a part of me wishes I didn't have to go back. Do you ever get that sensation? Where you just wish you could keep driving forever?
You see, my folks traveled a lot when I was a kid. Being homeschooled, there wasn't much tying us down, and so, we traveled throughout most of the western states, adventuring in our motor home. It never occurred to me that most families didn't live that way. I loved it. Which is why it feels so strange staying in one place for so long. I've lived in Colorado for almost fifteen years. The bug to travel doesn't bite me as deeply as it once did, but it's still there, waiting to resurface every time I turn my tires down a country highway. I just want to keep going and see what's out there.
Luckily for me, and my family, when I drive on the country roads I always have a destination in mind. My best friend lives in the country, on a solid square mile of property owned by her family, so that's the direction I point my car. It gives me a solid couple of hours driving time, but at least I know that I have a place to stop at the end, with someone who knows me, not surrounded by strangers.
Do you ever wonder what the politicians of our great nation think of America? I suspect they believe it is compiled of mainly cities and towns, with no country left to speak of, and why not, since they travel in airplanes, leaving one city of 700,000 people to land in another of an equally large or larger population. I wish they would all just take a road-trip. Pile their loves ones and bodyguards into the limousine, or better yet, rent a more surreptitious car, and just drive. Visit the monuments and state parks of America, stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, admire the Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado, trudge through the ancient ruins of Mesa Verde, and stare up, up, up at the glorious faces of four of America's greatest presidents gracing a mountain in South Dakota.
Would it change their perspective? Just stepping outside themselves for a little while, breathing an unaccustomed air, tickling their senses with unfamiliar sights, traveling down a country highway that leads them through endless landscapes dotted only by cattle, horses, and the occasional herd of Alpacas. The horizon is so much bigger, so much grander, so much more expansive, than they can imagine. How I wish all of America would take a step back from their confined lives and just drive, maybe for only an afternoon, stopping for a picnic by the side of the road, but at least they have the fresh air in their lungs, the sun on their face, and a warming of their heart that America is greater than they ever imagined.