Report from Louisiana: Get Outside!

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Report from Louisiana: Get Outside!

[cap­tion id=“attachment_107874” align=“aligncenter” width=“960”] The Blue Whale, Catoosa, OK[/caption]

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – I am guilty of sit­ting around in my insu­lated world and not tap­ping into the wan­der­lust that is deep in my soul. I am per­fectly con­tent to sit at home under the branches of my mag­no­lia tree and read books. Thank­fully, my hus­band is more proac­tive and so every so often we get in the car and actu­ally go someplace.

It is sel­dom any­where roman­tic or exotic like Europe; usu­ally it is to the Mid­west to see his fam­ily in Iowa. We have just returned from a two thou­sand mile trip through six states and while it wasn’t Paris, it was just what I needed.

I love get­ting out and meet­ing peo­ple on the road, hear­ing their sto­ries, and tap­ping back into the heart of Amer­ica. I spend far too much time on the wrong side of the com­puter screen.

We drove Route 66 through Okla­homa and, armed with my maps and research, we explored The Mother Road and its road­side attrac­tions. We located orig­i­nal align­ments and near Sapulpa, Okla­homa even found a patch where the asphalt had worn away right down to the orig­i­nal Port­land concrete.

Some­times it’s the lit­tle things!

We met a cou­ple there who were doing the same thing; they had done half of Route 66 last year and were back this year to fin­ish it up. “We thought we could do it in two weeks,” he explained, “but each time we stop and talk to peo­ple or look at some­thing, well, two hours have gone by!”

Near Catoosa, Okla­homa where The Blue Whale is, we met a man on a motor­cy­cle who was tak­ing the Mother Road east to west on his bike with his daugh­ter; she learned how to ride just to do the trip with him.

In Bax­ter Springs, Kansas, where the Rain­bow Bridge is, we found the friend­liest peo­ple of the entire trip. We talked to a man over break­fast who was orig­i­nally from Louisiana so we had a lot in common.

This is what is so restora­tive about our lit­tle sum­mer trips to the Mid­west: we meet the nicest peo­ple, hear the coolest sto­ries, and see the neat­est things. It’s not Paris, it’s not Lon­don, it’s Amer­ica. Real Amer­ica, real peo­ple, and the roots of who we all are. The trip restored my faith in us as a coun­try and as a peo­ple. To read the news, we are all angry about some­thing or injured in some way by a mon­u­ment or a bias.

This isn’t really true. We are a land of proud peo­ple who love their com­mu­ni­ties and who have the capac­ity to reach out and be human. We show kind­ness and can wel­come strangers into our cities and towns. We take time to talk to each other and find com­mon bonds. We share sto­ries and meals and we always can appre­ci­ate the sim­ple joys and the beauty around us.

Get out­side this sum­mer, y’all!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port. She is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cam­mie Henry and her Cir­cle at Mel­rose Plan­ta­tion. Fol­low her on Insta­gram @patbecker25.

The Blue Whale, Catoosa, OK

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I am guilty of sitting around in my insulated world and not tapping into the wanderlust that is deep in my soul.  I am perfectly content to sit at home under the branches of my magnolia tree and read books.  Thankfully, my husband is more proactive and so every so often we get in the car and actually go someplace.

It is seldom anywhere romantic or exotic like Europe; usually it is to the Midwest to see his family in Iowa.  We have just returned from a two thousand mile trip through six states and while it wasn’t Paris, it was just what I needed.

I love getting out and meeting people on the road, hearing their stories, and tapping back into the heart of America.  I spend far too much time on the wrong side of the computer screen.

We drove Route 66 through Oklahoma and, armed with my maps and research, we explored The Mother Road and its roadside attractions.  We located original alignments and near Sapulpa, Oklahoma even found a patch where the asphalt had worn away right down to the original Portland concrete.

Sometimes it’s the little things!

We met a couple there who were doing the same thing; they had done half of Route 66 last year and were back this year to finish it up.  “We thought we could do it in two weeks,” he explained, “but each time we stop and talk to people or look at something, well, two hours have gone by!”

Near Catoosa, Oklahoma where The Blue Whale is, we met a man on a motorcycle who was taking the Mother Road east to west on his bike with his daughter; she learned how to ride just to do the trip with him.

In Baxter Springs, Kansas, where the Rainbow Bridge is, we found the friendliest people of the entire trip.  We talked to a man over breakfast who was originally from Louisiana so we had a lot in common.

This is what is so restorative about our little summer trips to the Midwest: we meet the nicest people, hear the coolest stories, and see the neatest things.  It’s not Paris, it’s not London, it’s America.  Real America, real people, and the roots of who we all are.  The trip restored my faith in us as a country and as a people.  To read the news, we are all angry about something or injured in some way by a monument or a bias.

This isn’t really true.  We are a land of proud people who love their communities and who have the capacity to reach out and be human.  We show kindness and can welcome strangers into our cities and towns.  We take time to talk to each other and find common bonds.  We share stories and meals and we always can appreciate the simple joys and the beauty around us.

Get outside this summer, y’all!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport. She is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation.  Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25.