Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7






Monday, 15th November, 2004

About the author and the journey

When I was a teenager, I discovered that the highway that passed through our town led to other places, and I have been restless ever since. Some friends and I would get a car somehow and take off, sometimes for months. Many of those journeys passed through the region described here, but those trips were all about the going. We repeated this symbolic cutting of the cord, drunk with the freedom, high on our statements of independence as we chased the white lines across the continent.

Later in life came other sorts of journeys, many with my lover, where the destinations were important. And then the realization that the destinations were only excuses to be in that special moment at that foreign place, that it was an opportunity to cease trying to make things happen and instead share an extraordinary experience that unfolded like a blossom, if I could relax and get outside my own agenda to see it that way, to open up to the world. And it was a lot about returning home, and seeing home in a new way, finding a new appreciation for ordinary days.

And so, when my lover said she wanted to take this trip, I agreed to go because I care for her and want to fulfill her desires. But I had no desire myself to take a driving trip to the southwest, on some of the very same roads I had followed as a teen. To me the journey felt already finished, tired and done. It did not seem adventurous to me. There would be no airports, no passports, no currency exchange, no phrases to learn. It would not involve a plunge into a different culture with shocking colours, tastes, sights and smells.

I brought books with me, but I didn't read them. We had guidebooks, but they got lost in the mess of camping gear and food and clothes in the back of the SUV. The book that stayed within reach and did get used frequently was a Rand McNally Road Atlas. To reach the southwest we traveled for several days, avoiding the interstate highways, choosing instead back roads and old US highways. We traveled without a plan and with no reservations, stopping when we found something interesting, staying where we felt the urge to linger. I wasn't excited about this journey, but sometimes if you are open to it, your own country can surprise you.

- S.