Pen and Ink Possibilities: The lure of the open road

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By Kirsten Laskey

My college English professor once said that when you are traveling, it is not actually the destination that matters but what occurs along the way.

I’ve always had the travel bug in me – I’ve boarded trains, planes, ships and traveled in automobiles to destinations throughout the world and I’ve concluded that my professor was right.

My favorite part of any trip is that stretch of time spent getting to a particular place.

Aboard a cruise ship, I loved looking out at the huge expanse of ocean and observing the rhythmic, swaying waves. Sitting on a train, I was delighted to look out of the window and watch the landscape speed by.

Even sitting in those gigantic tour buses that scream for miles that a gaggle of tourists are approaching never bothered me.

I am addicted to the anticipation of whatever lies ahead and the open path in front of me with its unlimited possibilities.

Recently I once again indulged in my love for travel on a mini-trip to Salida, Colo., to meet up with a few friends. I’ve driven up that route several times in the past and it is by far my favorite stretch of paved road to meander on.

The highway fulfills all my romantic notions of travel. The entire drive is along a lonely stretch of faded asphalt that shoots off into the distance, surrounded by un-tampered beauty.

With the gas tank filled and the radio blaring a song, I am always filled with excitement for an adventure that is about to unfold.

Of course I am eager to see my old friends but in addition, I see all the sights that I have grown accustomed to spying along the route.

There is the painting of the Madonna on the side of a building in Ojo Caliente, the faded pink school that sits off on a dusty hill and the sign welcoming me to Colorado. Once in Colorado, I get to pass by my old college, Adams State, view the long curved buildings of the gator farm outside of Alamosa and crane my neck to see what new ensemble the cardboard alien is wearing at the UFO station in Moffat.

I always look for several signs along the way, not so much the ones that direct me to my destination, but the one with the Earth painted on it as well as a message that pleads with drivers to take care of the planet. There is another that advertises the Jack Dempsey museum and a third that promotes the oldest church in the state.

Salida itself is another treat for me. It’s another journey that I get to take – one that leads me down memory lane.  I see the newspaper office I once worked at, the restaurant that makes the best gyros I’ve ever tasted and the park by the river where the brass band musicians perform on July 4.

Plus, I get to visit friends who made the journey worthwhile.  

The town inspires memories that I love and others I happily leave behind as I travel back to Los Alamos, for that return trip is another great adventure. I watch the past recede in the rearview mirror and look ahead to the future and all that it holds.