About a year ago, Jeannie and I were planning a vacation out to Arizona to see her brother Jerry and his family; much of this trip was to include a scenic ride back on Route 66, which for many years was the “only” highway to travel.
Well, after our van broke down and we had to sink many dollars into a new transmission and other parts, our trip was put on hold for a bit. And, in between, many things happened in our lives. I was appointed to a pastorate; we became foster parents; and our family moved to the farm outside of Browning. Yet, through all of this, we looked forward to 2008, when we would once again plan another vacation excursion out west.
And so, my friends, it’s that time again! The journey has been (for the most part) thought out and written down; we’ve been praying for traveling mercies to our destination and back again; guest speakers have been lined up for the three churches I am serving at (and a BIG thanks to Jeff Wilkerson and Ted Stockwell for filling in while I am gone for those two Sundays); “special” maps have been purchased (Here It Is! The Route 66 Map Series by Jerry McClanahan)…everything is now in place for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. We’re excited!
Some of those weird things we plan on doing include stops at the Cadillac Ranch, an overnight stay at the Wigwam Motel, and a meal at the Silver Moon Restaurant. “Normal” tourist-type of stuff planned include a few days at the Grand Canyon, a trip to Red Rock State Park, stops at the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest Park, etc. There are SO many places of interest and things to do that I don’t know if we’ll be able to get all of it in; but we’re sure gonna try!
And part of this trip is the nostalgia factor for me; this is the same road that we traveled when we moved from California to Missouri, so there will be lots of bittersweet memories. Dad passed away a few years ago, so I can imagine there’ll be some tears shed for him along the way, and, of course, there will also be some long-forgotten mental snapshots that will surface. Even now, I can still picture some of the places that I saw as a 10-year old; I wonder, “Are they still there?” And soon, I’ll find out the answer!
If the newspaper permits, I would like to share some special stories over the next few months of this column on some of the more interesting characters that we’ll meet on the road; or perhaps some pictures of boarded-up ghost towns, unique tourist stops, or other flights of fancy. I urge those of you who are the last of the baby boomers (like Jeannie and I) to get out and take your families along this stretch of blacktop; splurge on a true “family” vacation together in a vehicle, laughing, singing, sleeping, telling stories, and most of all, staring in open-mouth wonder at God’s creation, painted in vivid brush strokes across the mountains; across the desert; and across the plains. It will be such a blessing to be able to travel across a vast swath of this great nation and experience some truly memorable things.
So, we go with God in a few days! Should be quite an experience for all of us.
The Mother Road beckons…and it’s time to “set sail” on our great adventure. Take care!
Richard is a regular monthly columnist for the Linn County Leader. He is also the pastor of Bear Branch, Purdin, and Pleasant Grove United Methodist Churches in north Missouri. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via his blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com