Sunday, December 14, 2014

Travel Bug Strikes Again!

Many years ago my husband Lyle drove big rigs for a big company and I often went on the road with him, traveling cross-country. From those first trips on the road a novel came into creation titled NIGHT CRUISE. (On Amazon now as Night Cruising.) Cruise was an unsuspected serial killer driving a Chrysler across country, killing as he went. Then he decides he needs a witness to his crimes, someone to take note of his actions, and picks up a teen hitchhiker running away from home. I used truck stops I'd been to, people I'd met, even dialogue I heard on the CB in the book that gave it a feeling of truth beyond fiction. The book went on to garner the prestigious Edgar Award nomination. The book lost that year to an Alaskan detective book that was part of a series--well, that's all I'll say about that. It would be rude to say more.

Travel infused a novel. The night lights, the long empty roads, the truck stops, the movement of strangers past one another on the road and in the cafes and stops held a sort of romance for me that has never dimmed. Off and on I would ride with my husband and we'd be in Northern California one week and in North Carolina the next. Every day a new view, every minute the landscape changing, and stimulating my creative juices. I'd always liked traveling, but this was like traveling on steroids, day after day a new city, a new part of the country. In the end, over the years, we drove through and enjoyed 48 of the states, from coast to coast and into Canada.

It gets in the blood. Sitting still at home gets boring for us now, Lyle and I. Over twenty years, off and on, we'd take off in a big rig and roll over the land, having the time of our lives. Whether in snow or storm or tornado, whether a blizzard raged or the rivers ran high, we rolled on through to the other side of it, often into sunshine.

We were traveling this way last December when in California I had to go to an Emergency Room and was diagnosed with lung cancer. That stopped the travel for the foreseeable future, if not forever. But I got a reprieve and went into remission. Now we may be going on the road again, Lyle maneuvering the big rig, me in the jump seat taking photos, and feeling the joy of a sunset in a new place. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

Some are home people, loving only being at home. I like to COME BACK home, but if I can just get a few miles under my feet, I'm never more content. My grandfather said of my wish to travel that I had "sand in my shoes." He said that to me when I was a teenager pining for a way to go somewhere, anywhere. He was so right.

The experiences you can gain by travel are worth millions. It's a tough job, the food on the road is bad, sometimes the traffic is horrendous, but then you walk over to a cafe for dinner in some state and get the most marvelous meal or you see a sunset behind mountains that you know you'd mourn if you'd missed it, or you see a rushing stream over boulders shining in the morning light and your soul is lifted. Clouds drift above you in one place and five hundred miles distant those clouds are different, the world is changing, the planet is twirling, and the wheels are rolling taking you on to the next view and next adventure.

I hope I get to do that again in a few days. When inspired by the travel I'll write blogs about it and see if I learn anything new. I hope you'll follow along. The next best thing to travel for me has been armchair traveling. When not on the road I read dozens and dozens of travel books just to feel in touch with those, like me, who take to the road when life is too routine, too the same.

As my grandfather predicted so many years ago, I still have to shake this sand from my shoes.