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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

The end of the road is a welcomed sight

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Today marks the final installment on a two-week, 3,800-mile rambling from the roadway. For those few diehard readers, you might recall I have spent the past two weeks traveling the southwest part of this great nation. I had hoped to see some scenery new to me and to perhaps learn some lessons along the way. Both tasks, in their own way, have been accomplished.

When I first embarked on this voyage one of my primary objectives was a longing for silence and solitude. I found both in abundance. I learned that a little silence is wonderful but too much silence is miserable. After long stretches of highway you find yourself yearning to hear another human voice. I have never been a big radio listener, yet I found myself tuning in to any station available. I can tell you more about local Arizona politics than you care to know and even found an interest in the Spanish-speaking radio stations. Go figure!

I also learned that Kansas has the cleanest restrooms and New Mexico, by far, the worst. In New Mexico, I entered two restrooms that had no doors. I don't mean these fancy, tile-covered modern facilities, I mean dark, dingy, dirty restrooms with no door for privacy. Actually, one restroom had a door but also a sign requesting you leave the door open for ventilation. Needless to say my visits were brief.

Another objective on this journey down the ribbon of highway (everyone writing from the road is obligated to use the phrase "ribbon of highway"), I had hoped to find some unique local restaurants featuring unique local food. Instead, I found countless roadside dives with unnamed food of undetermined taste.

And, let me say here and now, thank the good Lord for Cracker Barrel restaurants. Had it not been for this Lebanon-based chain, I probably would have starved. Can you imagine the irony of sitting in a Cracker Barrel in New Mexico listening to Skeeter Davis and Brenda Lee singing hard-core country music over the loud speaker? I assure you Skeeter, Brenda and I were the only English-speaking voices in that Cracker Barrel.

Finally, I have also learned a new appreciation for over-the-road truck drivers. They drive more in a week than I did in two and they do it routinely. These men and women, who bring products to our hometown, should be admired for their strength, their patience and their digestive systems. We should salute them one and all.

So today, I return to Sikeston, Missouri, 63801. I will undoubtedly take future trips and learn additional lessons. But chances are I will keep those personal lessons to myself and not bore you in future columns.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen