Yesterday was a surprise. Decorah, Iowa struck me as the “Mayberry” I’ve been looking for. A beautiful small town with a vibrant, appealing downtown. The town boasts a Unitarian Universalist congregation and a Democratic party headquarters (that share space). A Korean/sushi restaurant. Multiple coffee shops. And, to my knowledge, a downtown that has not a single “brand” retail outlet; everything is unique and owner-operated, it seems. Just a lovely place. Residential areas just blocks from downtown are filled with attractive, well-maintained houses. Many, many of those well-maintained houses have “yards” with little to no grass; instead, they are filled with lush, colorful gardens. The only downside, as far as I can tell, is the town’s paucity of available real estate. Ach! I could live there, easily, if only I could find the right house. We spoke to several people, including a gentleman (75-years-old) who was extremely friendly and obviously progressive in his world-view. He suggested that the town was split 60-40, progressive-conservative; people get along, though, regardless of their political perspectives, he said. Mostly. There are a few die-hard hyper-conservatives who trumpet their loathing of all things and people who adhere to a liberal attitude, but they are few and far between. Oh, what I would give to pick up and move there tomorrow!

But we picked up and left, after a delightful several hours there, heading in the direction of Madison, Wisconsin. Last night, we stayed on the western fringes of Madison. Today, I will steer the car south and east, intentionally bypassing the greater Chicago area. No need to fight the traffic when there’s nothing drawing me to the city and region where I once lived and that I once loved.

After breakfast and packing up the car, I’ll direct it generally eastward. I expect a motel somewhere in Indiana will be home tonight; or, if I push it hard, a motel in Ohio, near the shore of Lake Erie. The car’s odometer surpassed 100,000 miles during the drive yesterday (or was it the day before?), without notice; I saw that I had left that milestone in the dust only fifteen miles after it occurred. It’s well beyond that, now. And it will rack up quite a few more before this long, aimless trip is done. As I watch the miles drift by, I think to myself that it seems I am running away from something. Perhaps it is a clutch of memories I am trying to ease or a longing I am attempting to erase. Or, maybe, I am running toward something; something new and exciting and energizing. One of these days, I’ll look back and determine just what it was that prompted that sense of running away from or toward something.


Road trips tend to require the consumption of junk food; pretzels, crackers, chips, etc. I have to slow down on that stuff if I hope to maintain the direction my weight is taking. That is, down. We shall see. We always do.


I could spend the day writing, but I have roads to follow and distances to leave behind. Off we go. I will long remember and treasure this trip. But I know it is only one of many more to come. I enjoy the highway and all it offers. I’ve learned a lot about the beauty of corn fields and the designs they make in the earth. I’ve seen many things I want to explore more deeply. And I will. Perhaps not today. But someday.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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