As we leave Alabama and head into Memphis, Dad says it is an international shipping hub. There are semis everywhere, and we pass a huge shipping container yard. I wonder what Memphis was like, 100+ years ago. As I drive, I am thinking of a book I read in my NJ book club - I Married A Soldier. The author, Lydia Spencer Lane, was the great, great, great aunt (I don't think it was further removed than that, but it could be) of Linda in the book club. The book was about the young woman's experience as a soldier's wife in the early days of the southwestern frontier, areas we will drive through and visit. Obviously our travels will be easier and more comfortable (more or less - the discomforts will be minor) than hers, but I can't help but think of what it would have been like to travel before roads, before traffic, even before hotels. In the book she talks about how they would just stop and set up camp, set a guard to keep watch. No real roads or bridges. No airplanes. They had to ford rivers with the wagons and horses and hope for the best and that the current wouldn't sweep the wagons, horses, and passengers away. They had to keep a lookout for hostile Native Americans and other hostile people, as well as wild animals. We will have bridges to use to cross rivers, we may experience the occasional hostile driver and will probably not see any wildlife other than maybe a deer, a fox, or something else. As we drive over the bridge from Memphis, TN to Arkansas, I think what a dangerous and arduous trek she had made, several times, in her lifetime. But the expanse of night sky she must have seen, the wildlife, the people. It's not something I can ever experience - a time before cars, technology, airplanes. But, nonetheless it will still be an awesome trip.
But seeing the country, imagining what it was like, is why I like to drive on trips. There are things you can't see or experience when you fly. Do you get to your destination faster? Yes, but what do you miss? You miss seeing a huge Pentecostal church along Rt. 40 that looks like a statehouse rather than a place of worship. You miss seeing Cadillac Ranch (that's coming up outside of Amarillo). You miss seeing storms develop across the sky with lightening flashing through the clouds (I hate the lightening, but it can look awesome). You miss watching the landscape of this country change when you go from one coast to the other. Put a cross country trip on your bucket list. At least one. It's good poop.