Call of The Open Road

Call of The Open Road

Partridge Creek Bridge west of Ash Fork Arizona predates Route 66 by several years.

Wanderlust, a German term meaning a strong desire to travel.

The Wanderlust by Robert Service

The Wanderlust has lured me to the seven lonely seas,
Has dumped me on the tailing-piles of dearth;
The Wanderlust has haled me from the morris chairs of ease,
Has hurled me to the ends of all the earth.
How bitterly I’ve cursed it, oh, the Painted Desert knows,
The wraithlike heights that hug the pallid plain,
The all-but-fluid silence, — yet the longing grows and grows,
And I’ve got to glut the Wanderlust again.

I am not sure if wanderlust is hereditary. But I do know that my pa was consumed with wanderlust. After mustering out of the service in the summer of ’66, until he was about 65 years old, seldom did he hang his hat in one town for more than four years at a time.

And when he did sit down roots, it was in Jackson, Michigan where he had grown up. And when he passed away last year at age 92 it was in the house on Hinckley Boulevard where he was born.

But the wanderlust consumed him well into his late 80s. At age 63, in a 1973 Plymouth and a car loaded with camping gear, he drove from Michigan to see me and my family in Arizona, and then drove the Alcan to Alaska. The return trip was across Canada.

I am not sure that wanderlust is hereditary. But it can be instilled. One of my earliest memories is of an epic adventure in a battered, rusty Chevy convertible manufactured long before I was born. We were relocating from Norfolk, Virginia to Michigan. It was one big camping trip, with midnight stops for gas, oil, and ice cold orange soda pop. I close my eyes and can still smell the hot car, the gas station with its tires, oil, and grease intermixed with smells of wet pavement and fresh mown hay.

By the time I turned 18, we had made so many trips across the country from Michigan to Arizona, and from Arizona to New Mexico, Alabama, Tennessee and Michigan, I had no need for a map. I could address a detour on the fly and still make a deadline. That served me well when I turned my hand to gear jamming rigs from Arizona into Kansas and Oklahoma.

As a sort of 18th birthday present, pa took me on a business trip of sorts. It was an epic adventure, it was an awkward attempt at reconciliation between an estranged father and son. We set out in a rusty ’68 Plymouth Fury from Michigan with a destination being Kingman, Arizona. The “business” that sparked the trip took three days. We were on the road for thirty two days.

We hiked to Timpanogos Cave near American Ford, Utah. We watched the movie The Omen at an ancient theater somewhere in Utah. We camped at White Sands, New Mexico. We broke the ice on a pan of water and shaved along Clear Creek near Buffalo, Wyoming. We saw Mount Rushmore and the Corn Palace. I helped tune up the car in Springerville, Arizona. I helped fix the brakes in a motel parking lot in Idaho.

My dearest friend had traveled little when we met. But soon she too was consumed with wanderlust. Now, nearly forty years later, together we have covered more than thirty states. And our adventures have become international with memories made, and shared with friends, in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Wanderlust has inspired me to follow dusty trails to forgotten towns and towering peaks.

Wanderlust has led to friendships that last a lifetime.

Wanderlust still inspires adventures on he back roads.

Wanderlust has inspired me to share the adventure.

Wanderlust is Jim Hinckley’s America