Last night, a perfect night weather-wise, I sat out on the porch late and talked to my old pal Margot by phone. Don't remember how it came up but I wound up telling her about my dream of the open road.
It's a fairly ordinary and common dream. Someday, I dream, I will just get in the car and drive.
I plan to drive in a large circle and wind up exactly back where I started from. I'm going to drive around the country and see what I can see.
This is an old, old dream of mine. I dreamed it before I'd ever heard of Charles Kuralt or read John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. I dreamed it before I had a driver's license. I dreamed it sitting in the back seat of my parents' car enjoying long drives to Cape Cod and Lake George and Washington D.C. I dreamed it whenever we arrived at our destinations when I was always disappointed, at least for the moment, that the drive was over.
Someday, I told Margot, I'm coming out to see you. Margot lives somewhere in the Midwest, way out to hell and gone. I'll arrive late at night after driving all day on the backest of back roads. My dream, of course, is not of highways. When I go, I'm taking the long way to everywhere.
Margot asked if I'd be traveling in an RV.
Margot likes to imagine me making myself look ridiculous.
No, I told her. I'll probably just take the wagon.
If I get ambitious, though, I'll buy a pickup truck and put a camper cab on the back, which is what Steinbeck did. Maybe I'll get a dog to take along for company. I'll need company because I'll be traveling alone. This trip won't work unless I can travel at my own pace and on my own schedule. There can't be anybody in the passenger seat saying she's sick of the back roads, let's just find I-80 and do some flying. There can't be anybody saying when we're looking for an inexpensive motel for the night, "If you say 'We'll leave the light on for you' one more time I will push you out of the car, take the wheel, and run you over, so help me God!"
My dog won't care if I do my impression of Tom Bodett a dozen times every night.
I promise not to name my dog Charley.
You'll notice, as Margot noticed, that in my dream I have enough money that I can stay at a Motel 6 any night I'm sick of sleeping in my camper. That will be a lot of nights. My dream isn't of roughing it. My dream is of driving and seeing what's out there. It's not of pretending I'm a pioneer.
When I get to Margot's I don't expect I will be spending that night in a Motel 6. She and her husband are hospitable folks and they will insist on putting me up for a night or two. Margot's a pal. The fact that I have Margot for a pal has added a new angle to my dream.
Margot, you see, is a blogger. I only know her because our paths crossed virtually in cyberspace. It's about time we met face to face. There are quite a number of you out there it's high time I met face to face.
Since talking to Margot I've thought about all the bloggers I would like to meet and where they live and it turns out that I know enough of you and you are scattered widely enough that I could plot my drive across the country as a drive from one blogger's house to the next. I don't expect all of you to put me up for the night.
That's why they have Motel 6's.
They'll leave the light on for me.
I would leave my house and head South. I would travel down as far as Georgia and then cross over, with several stops in Texas and New Mexico, and then head up the coast of California, where I'd stop half a dozen times, and on up to Oregon and Washington and up into Canada, if I'm invited. I'd come back down along the Mississippi, crossing back and forth as I went, and after visiting Iowa City and St Louis, head back upwards and hit Chicago and then Detroit before coming back home through Ohio and Pennsylvania, with my last stops being Philadelphia and New York City.
All my blogger pals in New York City would throw me a welcome home party.
I'd have been gone close to two years.
I'd have been blogging the whole way, naturally, and I'd return home with the makings of a book. I'm sure I'll come up with a better title, but right now its working title is Travels With Bloggers. If there are any book editors or agents reading this post, I think I can manage this whole trip on a modest advance against royalties.
The blonde thinks this is a great idea.
She's not about to let me go through with it.
But she understands why I'd like to do it.
Maybe if the advance against royalties isn't all that modest...
But writing a book isn't the point. Meeting you isn't the point, although I'd be looking forward to that.
The point, as I said, is driving and looking around.
Some days I'd do a lot more looking around than driving. Some days I'd drive from from sun-up to well past sun-down and then, after a good night's rest at Motel 6, I'd get up and do it again.
Every now and then I'd drive all night.
I like to drive at night, so maybe that would happen more than just now and then.
My liking to drive at night is probably why I like this poem so much. It's by Ted Kooser. It's called Highway 30. The real reason I wrote this post is so I could show you this poem.
At two in the morning, when the moon
has driven away,
leaving the faint taillight of one star
at the horizon, a light
like moonlight leaks
from broken crates that lie fallen
along the highway, becoming
motels, all-night cafes, and bus stations
with greenhouse windows,
where lone women sit like overturned flower pots,
crushing the soft, gray petals of old coats.
In my dream I stop at those all-night cafes at two in the morning for pie and coffee before getting on the road again so that I can arrive at your house by dawn.
Update thrown out the window from a passing car: Jennifer of Saying yes...has her own dreams of the open road, except that she acts on them and she has a favorite traveling companion, her husband Griz, with whom she will soon be celebrating 15 years of connubial road trips. What's more she and Griz have instilled a love of the open road in at least one of their daughters:
Someone once asked my oldest lamblet if she had a DVD player in her car for those long trips. She said no, she took books, but other than that, she preferred to look out the window at the view. "What's the point of going somewhere else if you're not going to look at the changing scenery?" she asked.
Something about that kid I like.