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A Rand McNally Romance
Dedicated to Victor Anthony
Submitted by Joelle
If my new husband, Victor, and I were on the Newlywed TV show and the question was "What's his favorite book?" I could answer without hesitation, "The Rand McNally Road Atlas." He has such a fondness for travel that there are only two states he's never visited. Hawaii and North Dakota. I've been to both and no offense to North Dakota, but Hawaii's a lot more fun.
My family rarely took vacations and Victor was appalled that I had lived in America for thirty years and barely seen any of it, not even my own state of Oregon. When I agreed to move to his home in Tennessee he said, "I reckon I'll have to come out and fetch you in the Volvo", a phrase which made my friends rollick with laughter. No one "reckons" anything out west and only dogs "fetch". Regardless of the terminology, what he gave me was one amazing road trip.
Driving through the Columbia River Gorge we viewed a magnificent blue and gold sunrise, feasted on local, juicy cantaloupe for lunch, and left all the windows open so the breeze could tumble our hair. In Idaho, winding our way through the mountains along the Clearwater River, we explored the route of Lewis and Clark. Undeterred by Montana forest fires the car climbed at a snail's pace through the smoky passes of Glacier National Park and not a single view was seen through the haze. Turning south we visited Helena because Victor thought I should see my mother's birthplace. A lovely old town closed for Sunday. We picnicked in the park, enjoying the quiet.
Victor's love of blue highways caused us to miss The Badlands of South Dakota entirely although he never gave up the idea that he was on the right road. He insisted he wasn't lost but it didn't really matter because the only living thing on those lonely country roads was a dusty rabbit who had no time to give us directions anyway. I mirthfully added Mr. Bunny to our wildlife list of hawks, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, and buffalo. Later, the star-sprinkled midnight night sky made us deliriously happy and compensated entirely for missing The Badlands.
>From South Dakota we crossed through the Sand Hills. Anyone who claims prairies are a flat wasteland has never experienced the sheer goldenness of a Nebraska sunset in September. We drove until we reached the tiny stopped-in-time town of Broken Bow where my father was born. The next day, pining for home, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois blurred by as we headed for the green rolling hills of our Tennessee lakeside house.
Someday a blue highway will lead us to North Dakota but no car will ever carry my love and me across the vast Pacific Ocean. Victor's gift of a road trip was so extraordinary I want to reciprocate. I can think of nothing better than to give my romantic traveling husband the wonderful dreamy gift of Hawaii.