Expansive skies, a far horizon, an open road and time to explore – what more could a woman want?
In my case, not much. I love a good road trip, and it’s been far too long since I’ve taken one. In a day or two, I’ll put the necessities in the car – a clutch of maps, some books, notebooks and pens, a few hand-written notes, a collection of tunes, a laptop and a camera – and head north.
Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri are guaranteed stops. I’ll visit friends and family, tour a museum and see a few historical sights that intrigue me. Then, I’ll head south and west from Kansas City, eventually picking up the Santa Fe Trail. I’ll spend time in Chase County, Kansas, memorialized in William Least Heat-Moon’s expansive “Prairy Erth”. In Council Grove, I’ll visit the places I’ve missed, and then I’ll bunk along the BNSF tracks while I explore the prairies.
In the days of the Trail, Council Grove’s “Last Chance Store” was precisely that – a token of the end of civilization and the beginning of a truly dangerous passage. It’s less dangerous today but still new territory for me, so I’ll make the jump, continuing on to Dodge City and a less-publicized Four Corners – the place where Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma come together.
I might follow the Cimarron cutoff, and visit the grasslands. I might grow inattentive, travel too far west, catch a glimpse of mountains and be lost for days. Or I may edge down eastern Colorado, into New Mexico, where Tucumcari has an extensive collection of interesting cow patties.
Probably, I’ll head into the Texas Panhandle – to Palo Duro Canyon, Paint Rock and the western fringe of the Hill Country. If the trees have changed color, I might stop by Lost Maples State Natural area and enjoy. I might stop by the old Army Camel Corps caravansary, or I might save that for another day.
I’ll be gone ten days, or two weeks, or until the money runs out. While traveling, I plan to post two entries from my archives. I’m quite fond of both, as both explore the nature of travel – at least tangentially. I will respond to comments, but it may be a day or two before it’s possible, so please be patient.
Taking extra time for a trip eliminates the need to run at the speed of the Pony Express, or cross the plains at a gallop. I’ll be loping along for a while, enjoying the pace of a different time and the presence of people I’ve yet to meet. You can meet some of them in this video, and experience the rhythm of the days to come.