Everyone has their quirks. Mine include sensing a rising, inexorable excitement when interstate highway signs signal a choice between Dallas and Little Rock, or point the way to Tucumcari, or suggest, at the Louisiana-Texas border, that El Paso lies only 873 miles to the west. It makes me want to get rolling.
It began early, this love affair with the road. Still in junior high when Interstate 80 opened, only a few cornfields away from our house, I soon began sitting on the front steps, listening to the hum of the big rigs drifting up from the south and dreaming of the day when I, too, could be part of the passing parade.
In time, I joined that parade, and some highways became favorites. Others, driven only once, provided experiences that will live forever in memory: a young Indian girl watching from her pony as I passed through Nevada on the so-called “Loneliest Highway in America”; the grand sweep of US 2 across northern wheat fields; the horizon stretching away across the Flint Hills of Kansas.
From time to time, even urban roads can be enjoyable. Generally a San Antonio traffic nightmare, Anderson Loop still provides a decent way around the sprawling city, and I take it often.
One day, to my astonishment, I found no construction taking place on the Loop. There were no accidents, no stalled cars in the middle lane. The traffic was as light as on New Year’s morning, flowing so smoothly there was time to appreciate the well-engineered curves and subtle banking that evoked the feeling of a sailboat’s perfect downwind run.
Nothing replicates that steady, soothing rhythm of a good drive, or is more metaphorically apt, than J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton’s cut from The Road to Escondido, titled ‘Ride the River.’ I’ll be riding the river for nearly three weeks, and while there certainly will be time for gravel tributaries and dirt distributaries, that coursing concrete has a lot to offer.
I’ll send along a postcard from time to time, and keep in touch as I can. As always, your comments are welcome, but it may take a bit of time for me to respond. There’s a lot of territory to explore, and not every river is charted.
“Ride the River”
Comments always are welcome.