Thursday, July 20, 2006

Slow Down You're Moving Too Fast...

You've got to make the moment last.

When I was a kid, on family road trips, it was always the same old story. Six kids jammed into the family station wagon, van or some boat of a car from 1970 something.

The back seat was my straight jacket. My siblings the prison guards and parents the wardens. It always felt as though I was being transported to some State Penitentiary. When we would cross the river and state lines, I knew I was in real trouble. The ride would be long.

Sandwiched between my fellow prisoners, my feet would be burning up and I'd start to squirm. I would dream of the car slowing enough and making a run for it. Maybe my parents knew the plot being hatched in the back seat and that's why they refused to pull over when any of us would proclaim the need to relieve ourselves, or the opportunity to stretch our legs in the yard. With six kids, it seemed the rules of the road required at least four kids yelling for a pit stop. Only then would my Dad, sensing a back seat riot, pull-over.

Inevitably I would be allowed to lose my shackles, or in laymen's terms, my shoes and socks. Everyone in the car always took delight in telling me to calm down, but the only thing to come down was the window and out would go my naked feet.

I understood then why folks referred to their feet as tired dogs. And like the family pet, my feet delighted in the fresh air slipping through my toes at 55 M.P.H. It's the only time I'd smile on one of these trips.

Those were the days of traveling on two lane highways. When you would pass through vibrant little towns rather than bypass them. And you would see things that didn't exist where you lived. Small town cafes, funky gas stations and peculiar roadside attractions. It was well before the days of acronym travel: Kids with A.D.D. driving in SUVs watching DVDs.

Back then we were just hyper, tired & fighting. The landscape and small towns outside the car window was the only movie worth watching and our imagination created stories behind the towns and doors of little houses dotting the rural landscape or occasional city we'd pass through. Every new city was an interesting place in my mind. I think my brothers and I created C.S.I Peoria back in 1978.

I made an oath to myself back then: When I grew-up and had my hands on the wheel, I'd pull over whenever and wherever I wanted. If a place looked interesting, I'd slow down, pull over to take a closer look. And if I had to go to the bathroom, I wasn't going to "hold it!"

In Laytonville, California along highway 101, just across the Humboldt County line you will find John McCaffrey and his funky machine shed. I pulled over to borrow his bathroom and he pointed across the highway and told me to help myself.

What can I say...I made a promise!

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