Get in and drive
By Jennifer M. Latzke
“Never take the same route home as the one that took you there.”
This little tidbit of good advice from my dad, the king of road trips, has served me well over the years.
Whether it was delivering a herd bull out of state, or visiting relatives, any excuse to see some country was good enough for Dad to pack up us kids and Mom and haul out of the driveway to some parts unknown.
I learned a lot about traveling from my folks and those early road trips. For example, I can read a map pretty well and I know how to pack a suitcase for any occasion and just how to safely load a vehicle in a Tetris-like manner. I am “fed, watered and pottied,” before I get in and drive. And the tastiest breakfast and strongest coffee can be found at roadside diners with a large number of pickup trucks parked in the parking lot.
But the best advice Dad ever gave me was to never backtrack on the same route. Sure, it saves you time. Yes, it might save you a few miles, but why not see new country if you have to go home anyway?
I was thinking about this on my last trip to Colorado for work. Following Dad’s advice, I took a little detour through Estes Park and on over to the Rocky Mountain National Park on my way home from Loveland. I had a little time, the weather was pretty and I had a deep need to see some different country.
As I navigated the twisting Highway 34 into the park and I let my mind wander a little, I realized that I’d maybe missed Dad’s subtle point all those years ago.
You see, Dad’s philosophy doesn’t just lend itself to travel. It’s also a good metaphor for living for the moment, learning from the past, and not repeating it. Because, if you’re always looking in the rearview mirror at where you’ve been, you’ll miss where you’re going.
Sure, the road you choose might be winding and slow, or straight and fast. You might run across a construction detour along the way. There might be traffic delays or it could be smooth-sailing. You might even see the local wildlife. The thing is, you don’t know until you get there.
In my line of work I do a lot of traveling, so it’s probably good that I’ve got Dad’s wandering spirit. And on those occasions when I’m burned out, I look at the map and figure out a new route and I’m ready to get in and drive again.
And getting there is part of the adventure of living.
Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.