In an old song by Hank Snow he rattled off all of the places he had been. With this song in my head and a conversation about wonderful things to see in this great nation in my ear I decided to compose a map of the more memorable places seen over the years.
There is a story behind each of these pins. Some are rather humorous, a few are tragic, but all are threads in the tapestry of my life.
My memories of Sioux Falls are of friendly folks, good food, snow, and cold. It was early March when I flew in to town for the recovery of a van. The temperature hovered at nine degrees and everything was frosted in white.
The first surprise was that the heater was not functioning. The second was to learn the recovery company had left the seats and other components in Sioux City, Iowa.
So, I purchased a ski mask and some gloves, filled the tank and rolled south presenting the illusion of being a bank robber on the run. The lesson learned – if you have business north of Texas wait for spring.
My wife and I were returning from Wyoming when after a long day of piloting our old ’70 Chevy p.u. through some fine Utah landscape we decided to call it a day in some little burg near Cedar City. Imagine my surprise when the desk clerk told me I had missed the Hinckley family reunion by a week!
Lesson learned – when traveling be prepared to meet interesting people and even some family.
That little pin marking Trinidad, California is a monument to our first trip to the ocean. We stayed at the Lighthouse Motel, a vintage mom and pop with cottages over grown with trumpet vines on a bluff above the ocean.
Lesson learned – never forget to take time to enjoy the simple things such as the company of a dear friend.
The one marking Rolla in Missouri is an old memory, an old lesson. It was somewhere around 1965 or 1966 and we were heading east on US 66.
My dad was pushing to get back to Michigan in an effort to avoid being listed as AWOL. As tired as he was there was obviously someone who needed rest even more as a driver, asleep at the wheel, rear ended us sending our car into a ditch.
Lesson learned – don’t push it. Better to arrive late than never at all.
In Mitchell, South Dakota, it was the Corn Palace where I learned to savor the kitchey roadside Americana. It was one month after my 18Th birthday and my dad and I were on an epic father/son road trip.
We hit all of the highlights along the way from Wall Drug to Mt. Rushmore, from the Las Vegas Strip to the caverns in Missouri. The Corn Palace was fading from view in the rear mirror when my dad told me to never forget this corn ball stop as it and places like it were fast being swept away.
Lesson learned – savor the moment, let memories of the past keep a smile on your face, and look toward the future with apprehension as well as anticipation.
As I compiled this map the memories came flooding back with such clarity I could smell the heat rising from the oil soaked concrete, hear the ticking of the cooling engine, and the sound of the bell as another car pulled up to the pumps there on a hot summers day in 1970 in Liberal, Kansas.
Perhaps, someday, I can compose a book, a compilation of these adventures and the lessons learned. Perhaps someone would even buy it.