It is great to be home!
I had a terrific time on my recent trip, covering over 6500 miles in 3.5 weeks. I arrived home about a week ago, but immediately started gearing up for a short overnight trip that would take place in a few days. So now, that I am home again, it finally feels like I am really home: sleeping in, catching up on mail-mail and laundry, paying bills, making plans to meet friends, even cooking some favorite meals.
Of course, some of the best things about being home are little things I usually overlook. Knowing where the light switches are—and having bright enough bulbs in the lamps. Not just knowing where the plugs are for recharging all my electronic gadgets, but having them set up and ready to go in convenient places. Central air that keeps my apartment at a comfortably cool level without having to tolerate noisy window units and juggling between too hot and too cold. It is not terrible living out of hotels, but it is certainly much much better being home!
However, I must admit that no matter where I traveled, things seemed very familiar. During my driving trip, I traveled major interstates as well as county roads. Some roads were paved; others were not. But even the unpaved ones were not too bad—with a few exceptions. And the bumpy roads never lasted for very many miles. The general good condition of the roads with well-marked exits and rest stops was a luxury evident in every state.
Standing Guard at La Cocina Restaurant
Everywhere I went, there were also familiar restaurants where I could grab a quick snack or drink. I often grabbed a salad from McDonalds or Wendy’s as my evening meal or stopped en route for a cold drink or snack. But I could seek out unique local eateries as well. I already reviewed the Coffee Cup Café, but I also ate some great local pizza in Colfax, Iowa and Peru, Illinois. I had a great relleno and taco with hot red chili sauce at La Cocina in Truth or Consequences, NM. But I appreciated knowing the familiar standbys were just down the road. In fact, one day, having traveled for miles and miles through fields on country roads, I was tired and just wanted a break. Nothing was in sight, not really even an exit, just unmarked intersections. But my GPS device found several fast food places within a five-mile radius. Amazing!
Back Road in Illinois
I could also charge gas at the pump everywhere I wandered, whether at a Shell, Chevron, Conoco or even some smaller more local station. Only once—traveling the back roads to the Petrified Forest outside Flagstaff—did I worry that I might run out of gas. No stations were in sight when my need-gas light came on, and I had passed no stations all day long. My GPS said I was 20 miles from a station, but it got me there. The fill-up took 14.8 gallons on a 15-gallon tank. But I made it! If I had wanted to shop, I could easily have found a Sears or Kohls or Circle K that would provide nearly any item I might have wanted. I rarely shop when home, so I never did go shopping while on my trip, but I could have. I even saw such places as Whole Foods and LA Fitness in more than one city along the way.
People were similar too. Friendly clerks and other customers were always there to hold a door, suggest a local eatery, or offer ideas on fun places in the area. Some were just willing to chat a bit. One reason for my trip was to enjoy the solitude of travel and nature, but it was nice at the end of the day to be able to exchange a smile and a conversation with locals, no matter what size the city. I especially loved seeing kids very excited about being out enjoying nature wherever I went, mainly national parks and wildlife refuges.
Dorothy & Toto
Of course, each place had its own unique flair as well. In Kansas, for example, there were several museums and monuments showcasing the Wizard of Oz, including “The Land of Oz” with a recreation of Dorothy’s House in Liberal, KS (population 20,515 in 2010). Dodge City and Tombstone had western shows to entertain the tourists. In Pella, Iowa, there were gorgeous tulips but also a fantastic Dutch bakery called Jaarsma Bakery. Outside of Flagstaff, amidst the dinosaur statues, there were rock shops galore that also sold petrified wood from the local area. In a sweet little cemetery outside Julesburg, CO (population 1,225 in 2010), I found some lilacs in bloom, gracing several gravesites. I’d been looking for lilacs in bloom on this trip, since they were my mom’s favorite. This little cemetery was a beautiful locale to have a quiet moment of reflection and solitude.
Recreation of Dorothy’s House
Jaarsma Bakery, Pella, Iowa
Tulips on Pella, Iowa
Cemetery in Julesburg, Colorado
Lilacs for Mom
A Dairy Queen in Dodge City, Kansas (population 27,300 in 2010) had handwritten signs posted notifying customers that the restaurant would be closed all day Saturday, so all employees could attend the local high school graduation and its corresponding celebrations. Good thing I was there earlier in the week, as it was the only drive-thru in sight near my hotel. I also spent a quiet afternoon enjoying the grounds at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum in West Branch, Iowa (population 2,322 in 2010). I stopped for gas at the only little station I saw, and the museum was just around the corner!
Hoover Library & Museum
I had a great trip!
I love being on the road seeing new places and enjoying nature along the way. But I also love being home. One of my favorite movie quotes seems especially apt here: “Remember, no matter where you go. . . there you are!” These words of wisdom were spoken by Buckaroo Bonzai in The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai across the 8th Dimension.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT TRAVELING?
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING HOME AGAIN?
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Some Quotes about Home
“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” Sarah Dessen
“It was good to walk into a library again; it smelled like home.” Elizabeth Kostova
“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.” William Faulkner
“Home is the nicest word there is.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
“I let it go. It’s like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home.” Joanne Harris
“’One never reaches home,’ she said. ‘But where paths that have an affinity for each other intersect, the whole world looks like home, for a time.’” Hermann Hesse
“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was. Likewise, I never imagined that home might be something I would miss.” Ransom Riggs
“In life, a person will come and go from many homes. We may leave a house, a town, a room, but that does not mean those places leave us. Once entered, we never entirely depart the homes we make for ourselves in the world. They follow us, like shadows, until we come upon them again, waiting for us in the mist.” Ari Berk
“Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Robert Frost
“Home is where the heart is.” Pliny the Elder
“Where we love is home–home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” Jane Austen
“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” Benjamin Franklin