The open road is calling.
One early morning, very soon, the normal workday routine will begin. Most folks will go through their normal morning routine, go to their routine jobs and have a routine day.
Not me. I'll be heading west. Horizons that never quit. Stark mountains that jut out of nowhere. "Wide open spaces" as the Dixie Chicks sing, "Room to make a big mistake."
The Dakotas, the Black Hills, Wyoming. Rugged places with sparse populations, where even today, tourists are warned by state map advisories to not let their gas tank get too low. In the early morning hours, particularly, one can drive for hundreds of miles in parts of Montana and Wyoming and never see another person. Towns that might bear promise as a place for the weary traveler to rest often consist of nothing but a few run-down homes.
Even the geographic names in the West speak of danger and isolation. Thunder Basin National Grassland, Recluse, Wyo., War Horse Lake, Deadwood, Wounded Knee, Crazy Woman River, the Rattlesnake Range.
When my family and I set out this summer there will be a fresh cup of coffee next to the driver's seat, maps stored in the glove compartment, snazzy sunglasses perched on the driver's nose.
With each passing mile the worries of home, of work and the silly thoughts about what might not have been packed will dissipate. It doesn't matter anymore. There is nothing you can do about it now. There is a freedom created by distance.
In remote parts of the West you can push the automatic search button on your radio and the poor thing will scan and scan for a radio station, to no avail.
It's fun to fly somewhere for a vacation but a driving trip offers travelers the freedom to get up and go when they want to go. They are not at the mercy of an airline's schedule. They don't spend their precious vacation hours waiting in lines for rental cars or tracking down taxicabs. There's a reason Americans are in love with automobiles. It's the independence they offer us.
Driving crosss-country is one of the few ways to appreciate the vastness of this nation. How did the early pioneers ever brave the harsh land that whizzes by our air-conditioned car? How did they cope with the loneliness and isolation of their locations?
Pulling up at a rest stop after hours in the car, the driver will try to emulate that stiff walk the truckers get from sitting in the cab for too long.
It's great to be on the open road.
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