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Never knowing quite where the road will take you

October 14, 2010

"I've been everywhere, man/

I've been everywhere, man/

Across the deserts bare, man/

I've breathed the mountain air, man/

Of travel I've had my share, man/

I've been everywhere."

Johnny Cash


When I was but 5 years old, I got to experience my first sizable road trip.

After nine years in the great white north that is Alaska — the final half-decade with a bundle of joy known as Yours Truly — my parents decided they'd spent enough time away from their family in California and ventured back south.

What lay ahead was a great wide world that was even bigger in scope to a little kid.

I don't remember all that much, but for much of the time on that trip and many others, as my Mom, my Dad, our dog Gypsy and I traveled in our old camper, my favorite place was up top in the cabover. Staring forward into a window that showed nothing else but what lie ahead, I felt like the whole world was in front of me.

It was.

Many years have passed since those youthful days of gazing into the great wide open, but I still find myself enamored with the roads we travel and the romanticism of it all.

It all lends itself so symbolically to these journeys called life that we are all upon.

It was a Friday night voyage following St. Francis High football that took me upon my latest trip and behind me I thought about all the miles traveled following this football team or that soccer team or another school's baseball team and on and on.

California itself is a state seemingly occupied by different worlds. There are towns in which cows outnumber people, cities of commerce, trends and more people than can be counted, cities that never seem to slow down and rural abodes that never seem to catch up. There are roads and streets, avenues and pavement and dirt and gravel. They all take you somewhere and lead you down a different path.

I made my way through Taft, the same town put on the map when the white-shoed Reno Hightower once quarterbacked his high school to the best of times before a tragic knee injury ended his playing days. Most of the window fronts were empty, telling the tale of a town that time seemingly left behind.

The route twisted and turned and winded and dipped and raised.

Eventually the 46 ran into Paso Robles, a town tucked away next to the 101 that had a McDonalds and a Denny's, but didn't seem to lose that small town feel.

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