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093 The Yearly Commute 2009-06-09

Pikes Peak as seen from a distance

Each year we begin our pilgrimage from Nashville, the metro area, to the mountains. In an age with airplanes that can whisk you the 1200 miles from Nashville to Denver in a couple of hours, we choose to drive the eighteen hours. So you ask, "are you crazy?"

We drive because it seems to be a greener alternative to flying. Planes should not be confused with mass transit. Even though their capacity might be a couple of hundred, flying drastically increases your carbon footprint.

The drive across the plains is great. We anxiously wait as we weave through the traffic of the Kentucky and Illinois interstates. In Missouri the congestion is even compounded as the entire length of the corridor between Saint Louis and Kansas City has almost become one long suburb. Finally we make it to the plains, ah Kansas. We have heard so many people bad mouth the drive across Kansas as a boring stretch of interstate, but it is our favorite part of the journey. In our gas powered covered wagon we drive the mechanical horses toward the horizon. Yes, Kansas is flat and you can see forever, that is one of the things we like best. As you top a rise you can see the amber waves of grain dancing in the wind, the bread basket of America, and the fertile home of the prairie Native Americans and the buffalo. Did you ever see "Dances with Wolves?" The movie is Kansas.

When you fly (despite all the rising issues with baggage) you are whisked away on a magic carpet to your destination. You read a magazine, doze off to sleep, and wake and you are at your destination. When you choose to drive instead of fly, there is a transition. You earn each mile sitting behind the wheel. And if you can keep driving and stay out of the Stuckeys the trip passes quickly. You long to see the mountains. Once you are in Colorado at a high point near Flagler, on a clear day you can finally see the mountains, or rather a mountain, Pikes Peak. Driving gives us time to dream. Driving gives us time to adjust. Driving the great commute allows us time to see America.

So, Yee Ha!, hook up the wagons, round ’em up, gitty-up them horses. We’re off. See you in the mountains!


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