Hoptellectual: On Driving West

1)      Stop talking about a road trip and make it happen.

2)      Forget about miles, time-off and money concerns and write down the five places you want to go on your road trip.

3)      Type the locations into Google Maps and send the map to friends you want to travel with.

4)      Take a realistic look at where you will be able to stop based on your time off and then prioritize the stops with your friends.

5)      “Load the car and write your note. Grab your bag and grab your coat.” – The Avett Brothers

6)      Be prepared to make stops—lots of them—because half of the experience is actually seeing the country, not just driving through it.

7)      Find a brewery at some point to sample the local beer.

8)      If you’re going to spend money on your trip, spend it on food.

9)      When you see mountains, don’t stop any tears from your eyes.

10)  Camp wherever you can.

11)  Don’t be afraid to take touristy photos of your group—you are tourists.

12)  Take an afternoon to be relatively silent and really take in a hike or a walk through town.

13)  Remember that driving West feels right, but that East takes you home.

14)  Love your companions for who they are; get familiar with their faults and love those too.

15)  Drive home and never forget the lure of the road.

This poem was composed after a month-long road trip with some of my best friends from college:

An idea sparked it.
Persistent desire stoked imagination.
A route mapped on an atlas showed us the possibility
That a dream
Of mountains
And red rock
And rivers coursing through it all
Could come into being.

We began shaking the sleep from our eyes
For a Dakota sunrise,
That first glimmer of the country that awakened our hearts.
The mountains rose up to meet us
And we watched their endeavor toward the blue above.

A twilight blanket fell over us in Yellowstone
And we fell upwards into the Milky Way
As a campfire seared and crackled and
Whiskey warmed our very cores.
Strangers became friends and
Laughter poured forth into the night.

Forests turned to rust;
We settled our tent on the sands of one of
O’Keefe’s southwest canvases.
Zion before us, we climbed high into the sacred–
A cathedral of sheer, red rock and emerald pool.

Howling winds, an impending storm hurling itself at us,
Drove us from our site, so again we followed the road through the night.
Forward, our cry, until the road opened into the blue vastness
And a feeling of home wrapped its arms around us.
But the destination was not the goal of the our sojourn.
No,
It was the everlasting call to adventure,
The unquenchable need for experience
That set us off from Madison.

We shared the road together,
And in doing so, those inexpressible breaths that make up life.
Continue to answer the call, my friends,
And carry this love with you, wherever it leads.

Have you heard the call of the road lately? Pack some brews and head West. Don’t forget to tweet your photos @Midwest Beer of all the pubs and brewhouses you stop at on the way.

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