Every stretch of road

Every stretch of road has meaning...even this one near Delle, Utah, August 2004.

Every stretch of road has meaning…even this one near Delle, Utah, August 2004.

“A route differs from a road not only because it is solely intended for vehicles, but also because it is merely a line that connects one point with another…A road is a tribute to space. Every stretch of road has meaning in itself and invites us to stop.”
Milan Kundera

With only a week to drive from the west coast to the east, there was very little to tempt us to visit places such as Delle, Utah when we moved from California to Virginia in August 2004.  The heat alone was enough to dissuade us from stopping.  However, I agree with Kundera that every stretch of road has its own meaning.  And who knows what we may have missed by driving quickly through?

In reality, life is simply too short, and the demands of living too intense, to allow us to explore every stretch of road we travel. Through sheer necessity, we will use them as routes more far often than we will be able to wander along them as pathways.

But once in awhile, life throws us a curve ball and we get stuck in a place we didn’t intend to stay.  Whether it’s a car breakdown that grounds us for a few hours, extreme weather that stops us for a few days, or a temporary job assignment that ends up taking weeks or months longer than we expected, a discoverer’s mindset can lessen the frustration of detours and delays.

Next time you find yourself with more hours than you care to have in any particular place, remember Kundera’s thoughts.  If your route unexpectedly becomes a road inviting you to stop, take advantage of whatever hospitality you can find.  Take out your camera (if you have one with you) and ramble a bit.  You may never again see that particular spot of the planet in quite the same way.

One year ago today

Travel the back roads

18 Comments

  1. LB

    This is such a great post, and communicates exactly why I ride a motorcycle. I love to stop and it takes me forever to get places sometimes, because the road offers so much to explore. It also presents a challenge when planning because I never know how long it will take me to get from the start of the day to the end … and that is okay!

    • I can really see where a motorcycle would be the perfect way to explore America. I’ve heard of people hiking across or biking across but that would take TOO long and be too demanding, I think. I am scared to death of motorcycles but maybe I could manage a moped for short distances! 🙂 I do think if I rode a motorcycle I would find it way too easy to stop at every place that looked interesting, which would be a HUGE challenge in planning anything! Thanks for being here with us!

  2. I want to let you know that I read you every day. Yours is the first devotional I read and ponder. Thank you so very much for being here. I keep all of your family in my prayers.

    • Cherie, thanks so much! I am always so happy to hear that people read and enjoy these posts. We need and appreciate the prayers and good wishes of all the wonderful folks who visit us here. I’m so glad you are among them!

  3. MaryAnn

    The collage of your photos on the sidebar are great, especially Matt & Jeff!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann! That’s a WordPress widget. It does the collage but every now and then I change up the photos it uses. I’m glad you like it!

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        The mention of Mopeds, above, reminds me of one of the greatest stretches of road I ever traveled. On a layover in Saipan, five of our crew hired a light plane to fly over to the island of Tinian to explore. We each rented a moped at the Tinian airport, and headed north through the boonies. Our destination was North Field, where the ominous flight of August 6, 1945 began. But, on the way, there was so much adventure – a ‘blow hole’, tropical vegitation, even birds that had disappeared from Guam. Great fun!

        • You had me at “layover in Saipan” even before the mention of all the wonderful sights you saw. I hope you had a camera! But if not, I hope the mental pictures have remained sharp and vivid. Thanks for sharing that memory with us.

  4. Jenelle

    LB, I envy your freedom 🙂

    Julia, thank you for the reminder to take out my camera. I get stuck often and need to embrace it more. Even it’s just around town, there is something new to see. A week from coast to coast. Ugh.

    • Jenelle, I agree – reading about LB’s bike adventures is a great vicarious getaway!

      I find that taking a camera really does help me to re-focus (no pun intended). Drew used to chide me about spending so much time behind the camera that I didn’t really see anything. I always felt I saw MORE through the camera lens, and saw it through many different perspectives.

      One week to cross the country is really a pretty adequate time to enjoy it. We planned strategic stops along the way, and there was so much to see that it was fun. Since we were taking two cars, I had to do most of the driving of one of them, but Drew was old enough to help me. That was our fourth time to cross the country by car, though the only time we went all the way to the east coast. We went to CA from Memphis, and from CA to Texas and back. Believe it or not, driving from Texarkana to El Paso seemed almost as long as driving from Sacramento to St. Louis!

  5. raynard

    Julia your picture reminds me of driving through Texas and New Mexico. I believe that I shared the road runner story. Cue up the theme music. While passing through New Mexico taking my x mother in law sightseeing, the road runner in the middle of the road must of had gum stuck to the bottom of his feet.All I could remember was the sound as he hit the inside of my tire trying to be like the chicken that crossed the road ( I wondered did he yell Aflak! Lol be blessed

    • Raynard, the coyote would envy you! I always thought from the cartoons that the road runner was invincible!

  6. Sheila

    Julia, I love your words! “Life is too short, demands too intense, so ramble a bit!” I will never travel without a camera again. I hope your stretch of road right now is very smooth. 🙂

    • Thanks Sheila! I have been thinking about you and Bill. Regarding always having a camera – I keep telling myself that if I would give up and just get a smart phone already (I have stubbornly refused to do it so far) I would always have a camera nearby. As a grandmother I really like it that Grady’s Mom and Dad keep one handy! But not having a smart phone has never stopped me from taking pictures so far. 🙂 In fact, I might never get ANYTHING done if I had a camera nearby all the time! Our literal roads are full of pot holes right now, but figuratively things are going smoothly. Jeff is tolerating the chemo well, although the cetuximab does have him breaking out in a rash all over his face, which they say is correlated with a good response to the drug. I can’t help but wonder if that’s just something they say to make it easier to tolerate! But I’ll take any good news I can get. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  7. I’ve been known to take the scenic route more often than I care to admit. But honesty, it’s because I’m extremely directionally challenged. My SIL laughs at me because when everyone goes left in a hotel hallway, I’ll go right. It sometimes leads to happily-stumbled-upon moments. Like the other day, I stopped at a cemetery downtown to take some photo’s (a thing we’re doing on FB), I drove in at one entrance, then up and down rows, hopping in and out of the car and walking around. It wasn’t long before I was turned around, so I just left through the nearest exit. About a half block down I came across this shop called DOTS. I’ve heard of it from friends but had never been in. They sell designer clothes but with big markdowns. Even though I didn’t end up buying anything. I had fun snooping around for an hour. A little accidental ‘ME’ time…so that worked out fine. I think the old saying, “stop and smell the roses” was the order of the day 😀

    • Sometimes a confused sense of direction does result in some happy discoveries! I’m the same way. I have NO sense of direction and can go in a place from one side and walk out and go the opposite way without even knowing it. When we first moved to our home in East Point, I was six and my sister was ten. My mother allowed us to walk to the tiny store that was less than a mile up the road from our neighborhood. We came out and started walking “back home” in the complete opposite direction, and got quite a ways down the road before we realized it, since we were unfamiliar with the area. By the time we figured out what we had done and started walking back the right way, our mother came driving up in a panic, looking for us! She was terrified. She didn’t let us walk anywhere again for many years.

      • I can’t blame her, how scared she must have been. It’s a shame too that you can’t let your kids walk on their own anymore. I can see why young people live at home so long, there’s not too many opportunities to grow your independence until you’re a young adult. Our friends drove their kids everywhere, even just over to another friends for the evening. Schools are a bit different now because it’s not just kids from your neighbourhood. Here, you can go to any school if you apply and are accepted. So some will bus to a school where they like the curriculum better or it’s nearer their parents work, that sort of thing. So different. Our next door neighbour growing up used to send us kids to the store for her cigarettes with an extra quarter to spend, LOL. Can you imagine a market selling cigarettes to 10 year olds now? They’d be arrested here.

        • Yes, here too! And remember those candy cigarettes we used to “smoke?” Hmmm, maybe things are better now in some ways, although I do feel sorry for kids who can’t play outside for hours anymore like we used to do. I wouldn’t trade that for all the electronic gizmos on earth.

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