The road goes ever on and on

I’m not a person for living in big cities.

I often regret missing the opportunities and options for activities and cultural events, especially where the children are concerned. But we can go visit those if we choose, like our visit to Roboworld in Pittsburgh just before we went west. (Being able to touch the Lost in Space robot was AWESOME.)

Most of my life, I’ve lived in smaller cities and towns, occasionally in the country. That’s my comfort zone. You have access to what you need, if not all you’d like. Groceries, gas, government offices….le sigh for the lack of Starbucks and real ethnic food. No, Taco Bell doesn’t count.

On the Wild West trip, though, I chose a route through Idaho and Nevada for the purpose of traveling along a route on which I had set some characters in one of my stories, just to get a personal view. I had a good idea, from reading and photos, but neither had prepared me for what the terrain and surroundings were really like.

There was nothing.

U.S. 50 in Nevada

U.S. 50 in Nevada

No rest stop, no gas stations, no cell phone service, no other drivers, no strip malls, no houses…no people. Nothing. For miles and miles and miles.

This was a novelty to me at first, and I admired the sagebrush and high desert territory. After a hundred miles, a hint of doubt and discomfort started to slip in. What ifs. What if the car broke down? What if we ran out of gas? What if something happened to me? What would the children do? Who would pick them up and protect them from the desert sun? And what if those were horrible people?

Of course, by that time, I had worked my head into a pretty negative place, the scenery was way off the agenda and I was thinking about panic instead. How could there be a place so far from civilization that they don’t even have a portapotty?! When we came unexpectedly across some road work and had to stop in a batch of semis, I’d never been so thankful for construction in my life. I got out, stretched, had a drink (water, sadly as I didn’t have anything stronger) and yanked my last nerve back into line.

The rest of the journey to California proceeded in alternately white-knuckled and deep-breathing phases, aggravated by the high altitudes (Austin, Nevada was 6,600-plus feet).  Grateful for the children’s issues for once, as they were mostly oblivious to my worry, I plowed on, and we made it fine.

The experience, however, did leave me to question my decision-making. All my adult life, I’ve been very independent– changing jobs, moving, going back to school, getting married, getting unmarried– without paralyzing concern over what the consequences might be. This choice showed me where I could be vulnerable, something I don’t face about myself often. It was an interesting lesson. I honestly don’t know if I would do it alone with two children again.

the adventure awaits

the adventure awaits

In The Lord of the Rings,  Frodo recounts to the other hobbits Bilbo’s thoughts about traveling in the world: ” ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ ”

It’s hard to believe there are still places in this country where there is so much open space. We were lucky to be able to travel this summer and see that even though there are overcrowded neighborhoods in big cities and way too many glittery strip malls eating up natural land in the suburbs, there are still places where you can get a breath of fresh, clean air and see every one of the stars at night. I hope some day you get to see them too.

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8 thoughts on “The road goes ever on and on

  1. it’s funny how the nature of anxiety changes when we are responsible for the well-being of others… on my own? i’d probably have been a little skittish… with my children? a bit of a nervous wreck…

    and from memory…

    Down from the door where it began…
    Now far ahead the road has gone…
    And I must follow if I can…

  2. crikey! and then the rest popped into my head…

    Pursuing it with eager feet…
    Until it joins some larger way…
    Where many paths and errand meet…
    And whither then? I cannot say…

    Amazing. Forever marked by something i haven’t read in decades…

  3. You are independent and brave! How do you answer that question, if you broke down somewhere in the middle of nowhere then what?? I’m a country girl too, but not that country! I mean you couldn’t even get a coffee? I’m more like cape cod country, where there’s a beach and a quickmart and a few farm stands… but civilization (handsome men) is a must!

  4. Wow, what a sight…you must have a strong will. Very brave done!!
    PS. What DO people actualy do, if they get in trouble out there??

  5. So maybe it’s not so bad that I’m flying to Las Vegas in a month, not driving. Actually, I did drive from Ohio to Vegas in 1980, then about 9 months later (in 1981) drove back. I think I lived in Area 51 in between. Or Las Vegas. They seem to be about the same.

    Neal

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