Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas

Since Friday October 12th, I’ve traveled 828.9 miles plus 380.6 miles plus 781.1 miles away from home. When grand totaled, it comes to 1,990.6 miles. And one of the places you can find yourself when traversing that far from Missoula, Montana is Bull Shoals, Arkansas, population 1,950 – which equates to my having driven approximately one mile for every resident in this quaint and lovely little town, in order to get here.

I left my good friend Wendy’s, in the metro area of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, at 5:00am on Tuesday October 16th and arrived later that same day at 6:00pm at my mom’s place in Bull Shoals. Here are some road notes I scribed down whilst en route (in order of appearance):

6:30am, 41 degrees. Daybreak cuts the tension of darkness in a sharp jut of sky to the east.

Like miles of lane barricades on the highway with no trace of road construction in sight, I trust the process of life, even if I don’t understand it.

A road sign reads: Hope, 1 mile. Wouldn’t it be great if it were as simple as that?

I strode over the border into Iowa at 7:30am and watched the sun pop up over the horizon at 7:31. Bearing honored witness to a sunrise so inexpressibly beautiful that it floods the sense, these words came to mind:

I look out to the horizon in gratitude for this one precious life.
I look out to the horizon in gratitude for being a citizen of this great country.
I look out to the horizon in gratitude for the highways and byways that connect us.

More road notes:

The blue skies of Iowa greeted me with open arms, like a friend I’d forgotten I’d missed.

My gaze travels on for miles over fields like the ocean, un-interrupted by such things as mountains. My breath has no where to stop, no book ends to catch it and prop it up. It just roams and roams and roams.

87 miles from Des Moines and the fields are signing the morning’s arrival, glistening in glowing golds.

While venturing through Iowa, I discovered for the first time since getting my new/used car in July, what my low fuel light looks like. Turns out, Iowa is not known for having easy access petro stations in high concentration right off the highway. But concern of being stranded in a corn field in Iowa was averted at exit 144, with 50 miles left in my tank. Flying J to the rescue!

Road notes:

The more people I meet, the more people I love, and the more I feel connected to the great breath that connects us all.

When I travel solo, I am not alone. I am accompanied by everyone I’ve ever shared energy with, if even only in passing.

Iowa has parking areas, rest areas, and prairie areas, all marked with signs with arrows pointing the way off the interstate. I guess they just want to make sure to provide ample opportunities to stop and look out on the great expanse of unencumbered land.

A road sign that I thought made a good life teaching: Expect major delays.

Fresh into the state of Missouri, I pulled into their visitor center/rest area around 10:30am. After a walkabout the visitor center, which was stocked with brochures and info, complimentary coffee, and a lovely full wall tile collage mural, I strolled around outside on their mowed path that led to some large metal buffalo sculptures (see pic above). Having stretched out a bit, I set to crawling in the back of my Sube to fetch a nap. Were it not for the lawn mowers out in full force, I would’ve stayed to make lunch. Instead, having had enough of the din of buzzing engines, I quickly pressed on after waking.

In the interest of my blog writing time coming to an end, for what quite possibly might be the last time until I get back home in a few days, I’ll wrap up with a few concluding road notes, before I have to sign off to embark on a fresh new day:

Barns, churches, and bars line our country’s landscape, thick with the nectar of good people doing the best they can.

When the country store sells guns and ammo, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.

One can only glean so much about a place by cruising through it on an interstate going 80. Still, you get a little sliver of taste.

When going southbound on highway 13 in Missouri, the music of John Craigie provides a soundtrack that just makes sense.

And equally, on highway 65 heading south into Arkansas, the music of Rising Appalachia is in order.

I don’t think Arkansas got the north country’s memo about it being autumn.

In just a long day’s drive, the landscape goes from snow skiffs to warming sun. From 30 degrees to 60 degrees. And from northern ruggedness to southern hospitality.

There are many lessons solidifying for me as I ramble on the road – teachings that are being given to me in a different way, from different teachers, and different angles.

I’m reveling in this time of being on the road and taking this mini tour of visiting with some of my loved ones. And I will also soon revel in my return back home.

me and my mom in Bull Shoals, AR





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