Sign in … no need for an I.D. or P.W. No digital interface. Nor a GPS, or a woman’s recorded voice confirming “you have reached your destination.”
Having retired in 1997, I’ve crossed coast-to-coast more times than counted, driving a truck with or without (1) an aged Airstream trailer in tow, (2) one or two dogs, (3) my late wife, (4) a vintage 60-year-old car, or all the above.
The tools: a sense of direction, a dog-eared road atlas bound with duct tape (Rand McNally, large print) and the passion for the our American landscape. Woody Guthrie nailed it:
“the ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
this land was made for you and me “
Returning to South Bend after four months, from the Mexican border of Arizona, through six days of blue highways and gravel roads, I look for signs as a thoughtful antidote. Like flu shots, have we become immune to the interstate virus? My boredom vaccine: signs, sidelines, our back door screen, front porch couples, rocking chair, swing. All lift me from lethargy to ecstasy.
Roadside signs in the weeds, when least expected, evoke surprises; poetic conceit worthy of Twain, both Will and Mr. Rogers, Kerouac, Steinbeck, Theroux, Bryson, Mackintosh, Caputo, Least Heat-Moon.
Somewhere in NM:
Whittle what? … a whistle. Is the sign an environmental urge to “save the planet” by recycling our own saliva? Curiosity as to when it was painted, erected, and by whom.
Internal speculation to pique interest of passersby.
And this, the fading Bellhop of ghost town-in-waiting, Lordsburg, NM:
On old Route 66, when was the last time you called for a bellhop? … during the first Nixon administration?
Or Ike or Harry Truman. The dog in the photo, my dog Jack.
For local nostalgia, somewhere in Kansas, a porcelain, double-sided, dealership pre-1963:
Peppered by unauthorized, snot-nosed boys taking target practice with Red Ryder BB guns.
And then, from Patagonia, AZ, a warning to our writer/moderator, author of Kissing (a short-bodied, tailless amphibian without lips), which now earns him the title, novelist:
Novel idea, whether one is whittling and whistling, or wrestling writing.
Time for me to hit the esc button, top row, left corner. Listen to Siri.