Two Quotes for the Road

13 Mar


Life is a journey, not a destination.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote.  Yes, I know it is on every cliched inspirational poster on the planet, but I still love this quote.  I haven’t really read much by Emerson, but he is such a fountain of quotey-goodness that I feel guilty admitting this.

I’ve been completely enchanted by the idea of a cross-country road trip since I read Tim Brooke’s article in National Geographic about his adventures hitchhiking across the United States.  In the road trip of my dreams a friend and I would save up our money, pack up a car with camping gear, and head west without any solid plans or final destination.  Along the way we would camp in spectacular places, eat in tiny roadside diners, make a million friends, and have great stories to tell afterwards.  (For some odd reason a guitar seemed like an integral part of this plan, strangely enough before I owned or could even play a guitar.)

Although there was a guitar involved, my first cross-country road trip was nothing like the leisurely free-spirited vacation of my fantasies.  I was on a bit of a time crunch, and I had to haul across the country quickly.  I managed to drive alone from Ohio to Los Angeles, more than 2,300 miles, in only three days.  While this isn’t an unimpressive accomplishment I can say with certainty that I never want to do it again.


The problem with traveling like this is that you miss everything there is along the way.  While I enjoyed watching the march of landscapes with glimpses of changing ecosystems geological features and cheesy roadside attractions, I never really got the chance to explore any of it.  It was hard to see signs for places like Petrified Forest National Park and know that I didn’t have the time to follow them.

Places that seem worth visiting when (not “if) I do this road trip again:

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site: Collinsville Illinois

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial: St. Louis, Missouri

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City National Memorial: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Carlsbad Caverns National Park: Carlsbad, New Mexico

Petrified Forest National Park: Holbrook, Arizona

Mojave National Preserve: Bootstrap, California


Fortunately the trip wasn’t completely void of adventure.  I was able to stop and have lunch with some old Bear Brook friends in Oklahoma City and Flagstaff (Hi Stephanie Phil and Ali!)  I ventured off the highway long enough to marvel at the stars over New Mexico.  I saw glimpses of desert plants from the sprawling Mojave at a rest stop in Arizona.  I even stopped I stopped in Los Angeles to see April, meet some of her friends and had my first real food truck experience.


The OC Food Truck at Noble Ale Works

So although my road trip wasn’t everything I had hoped for, I can’t complain much.   There will be other road trips, and I enjoyed the company of friends I haven’t seen in a long time, made some new ones, and (after much insisting nagging enabling from April) got hooked onto the More Hip Than Hippie podcast.   It brings to mind another often quoted phrase:

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

~G. K. Chesterton

It doesn’t hurt that my destination:


Ain’t too shabby.  Take that Emerson.



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