My youngest daughter, Megan, gave me a wonderful gift for Christmas in preparation for this trip and others planned. On Christmas morning I opened a box containing The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux and have since found it to be chock full of interesting perspectives on travel gleaned from a variety of sources. One of my favorites is from Jack Kerouac who noted, simply, “…the road is life.” And so it is.
Life is good on the road. For me, it’s an optimistic way of life because there’s always a new discovery just over the next hill or a surprise waiting to delight just around the next bend. You settle into a rhythm and it’s a cadence that you, and your traveling companion, orchestrate. There’s a marvelous freedom in it that I haven’t yet experienced in any other way.
While travel requires a fair amount of self-sufficiency, one of the most interesting things about it to me is the necessary reliance at times on total strangers. As Theroux quotes from Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: “Most travel, and certainly the most rewarding kind, involves depending on the kindness of strangers, putting yourself into the hands of people you don’t know and trusting them with your life.”
When you reach out to a stranger on the road, what you find is that most people are happy to help you find your way, eager to share the pleasures and beauty of their home areas, and enjoy remembering or vicariously living the adventure of travel through your own. Your belief in the fundamental decency of most people is restored.
Yet for me, all roads lead home. Home is still tied to a place for me – Tin Can Gulch – my little corner of the planet with my loved ones within easy reach. And so, “all travel is circular…Afterall, the grand tour is just the inspired man’s way of heading home.” (The Great Railway Bazaar)
Homeward bound…for now.