Yes, I told the friend we were visiting for the past few days, I am still writing my blog. It’s just not so easy when we’re away from home.
“This reminds me of Oman,” my husband said a while ago, as he was driving. “Mountains in the distance, development nearby. Desert. Irrigated fields.”
But we’re not that far away. Just another road trip, this time visiting family and friends over the holidays. Home soon.
We brought along many ways to access information: laptops, tablets, cellphones, and our Garmin navigator. On the road, I log in to check out what’s the best motel for the price, why they have changed the name of that road, what cataclysms built the silty jagged peaks we are seeing around us.
And, it should go without saying, how to get from here to there.
I also use them to read e-books aloud as he’s driving. Now I’m writing.
Probably I spend too much time staring at this small screen, and too little gazing out at the vistas we are passing.
How vastly different from the travel a few years ago, when one spent so much time uncertain about things! It was far less convenient, but on the other hand you were far more likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger.
You don’t get lost. You don’t ask others directly for recommendations of motels, restaurants, or local attractions. Especially when everyone at the next table in the restaurant is staring at their own little screen, this can discourage those wonderful moments of serendipity that add to the joy of travel.
The anonymity makes me miss the casual cordiality of home, the easy conversations in the post office and the banter in the corner coffee shop. How can we extend our town’s reputation for friendliness and welcome in the way we set up a coworking space for digital nomads? Now there’s a challenge to think about …
“Actually it’s kind of pretty here,” my husband says, interrupting my train of thought. I look up to consider the merits of the vista before us: soft green mesquite, rosy mountain ranges and pale blue January skies.
“I wouldn’t call it pretty,” I say (not being fond of southern Arizona, where everything is pointed and prickly).
“Well,” he asks, “what word would you use for that landscape of sand and sagebrush south of Lander that you love so much?”
I ponder for this for a few moments. “Restful,” I reply. “Dramatic. Compelling.”
Later, in an area on the outskirts of a huge metropolis, he falls silent and his gaze hardens. The traffic has grown thicker and less predictable. We stop for a break at the most overrun rest stop I have ever seen, and then launch ourselves into six lanes of erratic behavior by rude strangers driving through the dark at rush hour.
I have a word for this environment too: Stressful.
“I have to drive this for another hour,” he says, “I’m going to be really exhausted afterwards.”
We made it through, using 3 navigation sources: The Garmin, an old-fashioned paper atlas, and my phone to check for traffic slowdowns.
It’s always enjoyable to travel and see different places. But travel also serves to remind me of many things I appreciate about Dubois.
© Lois Wingerson, 2020
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