The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.
--J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings)
I think J.R.R. Tolkien felt about roads the same way I do. While I haven't zipped all over the world as Alight has on his mission trips, I certainly would if I could! I have wandering feet and am one of those people who are ready to take off at a moment's notice and will drive down a road simply because it is there. I only put 8,000 miles on my car last year and that's only because I was being treated for cancer from January 30-August 20. That sort of slowed me down a bit plus my husband clipped my wings. It wasn't a good idea for me to be driving most of the time. Trust me on that one. He was right in doing so and as soon as I proved myself road-worthy again, he lifted the ban.
My husband was once criticized within my hearing for "letting his wife run around loose like that". He quickly retorted that what his wife did or didn't do was none of his business and he'd never think of trying to nail me down as that was a part of who I am. That would be like putting me in a cage and he refused to do such a thing. So...I happily wander about...but my feet always come back home.
I took my first cross-country road trip alone when I was 18. It was the summer of 1979. I'd just managed to purchase a 1978 Dodge Aspen right before I headed back to college. I headed off late one afternoon and drove a couple hundred miles down into Iowa to spend the night with one of my cousins. The speed limit was 55 mph. back then so it took a bit longer to get anywhere. I'd decided to go this route so I wouldn't have to spend a night on the road. I was not adventurous enough to want to spend the night at a motel alone!
Early the next morning, I hopped into my car and drove another 500 miles to southwestern Indiana where I was going to meet up with the guy I eventually married.
Now I think I just felt a few dads shudder as they imagine their 18 year-old daughters driving 700+ miles back in the days when there were no cell phones. I should add that I only had about $100.00 and I didn't have AAA. It was me and God. Now, for the last 400 miles, I wasn't alone. My husband drove his car and I followed along right after him...most of the time. It was hard. He had a 1970 VW wagon and I had my sleek '78 Aspen, eight cylinders with a 318 engine. I only knew that because my husband had popped the hood when I arrived in Indiana and had told me that. He also immediately took it out on the road and I had trouble getting my keys back
I'd zip off ahead of him but I'd always slow down and let him catch up with me. As we traveled across Tennessee (we were headed towards Chattanooga) we had to climb Monteagle Mountain. It was August. I had my air conditioner running full blast and was singing at the top of my lungs. My husband was going slower and slower. Impatiently, I zipped around him, waved goodbye and zoomed past him. I'd see him later. I had to wait around a bit but he eventually made it. He always does.
The following year I drove from Minnesota to the southeastern corner of Virginia where Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina meet. This time I was alone for the entire trip. I also had my future father-in-law fussing over me. He gave me strict warnings to be careful, went over my car with a fine-toothed comb and despite my protests installed a CB radio in my car "just in case". He made sure I knew how to use it and gave me strict instructions. I could listen if I wanted but I was not to talk for any reason unless it was an emergency. I quickly learned it was best to keep it off once I got a ways out. A 19 year old girl traveling alone with Minnesota plates in a dark green Aspen eventually starting catching the attention of some people out there who wished I would turn that CB on so they could talk to me.
There have been many, many road trips over the years. Some have gone smoothly and others have not been quite as smooth as I would have liked. Sometimes my vehicle has been full of people. Sometimes, I've been a part of a caravan traveling with others. Other times, it's just been me and God. Regardless, although the road has sometimes been dark and treacherous, one thing has been sure. God has been with me every step of the way and He has always brought me safely home!
I'm looking forward to mid-March (provided the weather cooperates) when I can do my first real road trip (400 miles) post-chemo! How I love the open road!