• Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

Restless Writer Wrestles With Wanton Road Dreams

One might expect that a rainy summer afternoon is the perfect time to hang out and write something. However, if you’re this writer and summer triggers intense restlessness, you might be too busy suppressing the urge to throw your overnight bag in your car and take off to get anything else done. 

Summer has always been road trip time for me. I blame my father, who took a few weeks off work every summer to declare that it was time to pack our bags and leave our regular Minnesota life behind. No reservations, no plans, no people we had to see. Just a direction that we would take. The direction he chose most often was west, toward mountains, back roads, pine forests, free-range cattle, cold streams, big sky. In the time before cell phones, Dad drove on roads that showed up on no published map, got us lost far from typical tourist destinations and major highways. We stayed in mom-and-pop motels in tiny towns where people would invite us to join in their softball games. We ate in local establishments where farmers and cowboys leaned on the bar while they exchanged news of the day; my father was loathe to stop at a McDonald’s. We spent hours in the car, moving from place to place, not knowing where we were going until we got there. The radio got tuned to the local AM stations. There were a few times when the local motels were full and we spent the night snoozing in the car at a rest area. In the morning, we’d splash our faces with water and do it all again.

So my restlessness is right on time. It’s July and those back roads still hold their allure, still beckon from beyond the edges of this suburb that I call home. The Internet Highway is a poor substitute. Even with the rain coming down, I would rather be out there gathering experiences, collecting stories, lurching into a truck stop at sunrise. I would like to be unplugged, unavailable to anyone but myself and my fellow travelers. It’s true that there’s no place like home, but you can’t really know that unless you get away from it once in a while. Even if you’re a writer who can imagine it all.

I’m off to read the map and check my tires.

DO A KIND THING

So, maybe you’re as restless as I am but a road trip is not really your thing. How about a vacation that combines a new place with a chance to do some good? A volunteer vacation? Charity Guide has some ideas that just might work for you. Check it out here.

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