Goodbye From Acova, Iowa

Spring                                           New Bee Hiving Moon

Last report from the road.  Acova, Iowa.  Acova Motor Inn.

Long ago read a travel writer commenting on America.  He said one of our great boons to travelers is cheap, good lodging.  He’s right.  I’m in the Acova Inn, $45 a night.  It’s a clean, independent motel with working heat, internet connection, cable tv, coffee maker, microwave and refrigerator.

And in this he reveals a component of the American character.  We go.  Ever since the days of the pioneers (and, yes, I stipulate the dark side of the frontier, but also recognize the bravery of those folks on foot, horseback or covered wagon.), we have wandered across this great land, sometimes with a purpose:  new job, visit family, find land, get away from crowds, but just as often with a large dash of whimsy, journey for the sake of journey.

In many other parts of the world, for thousands of years, people have been born and died close to their village, often without going very far from home.  Nomads are not an exception because they followed food, either for themselves or their live stock.  Over the last 100 years or so there has been a giant sucking sound as cities hoover up those former villages into themselves, but there the travel, if there is much, is between village and city and back again.

And, yes, I stipulate the deadly effect of the internal combustion engine and the predatory nature of the railroad builders.  It occurred to me often on this trip that our travel urges have burned a lot of gasoline.

Maybe the road is a siren, her beautiful voice luring us to our doom, but I find her a book opening page after page of wonders, a picture book for adults.  There the pump jack bobbing up and down, up and down.  There a jack rabbit with those big heat radiating ears.  A sunset against the saguaro that calls to mind dime novels by Zane Grey.  Pine covered mountains that remind us of the land that will be in a million years.  Waters running from state to state, from ocean to ocean as snowmelt crosses continental divides. Even the highway signs warning of dangerous sand storms, no visibility, pull out of the traffic lane to stop.

Too, there are the depths of Carlsbad Caverns, the tall saguaro gathered in assembly along the valley floor and the abandoned architecture of the Chaco Canyon culture.  The low flat houses of Tucson and the adobe houses of Santa Fe show up as do the octagonal hogans of the dine people and the swallow like residences of the pueblos.

Later in the year thunderheads will build over the plains and splash down water on fields of wheat where the arid west gives way to the humid east.  All this and never leaving the nation.

I will have traveled almost 4,000 miles and missed the whole deep south, the eastern seaboard and the western one.  I will miss most of the midwest, too, only brushing it in Iowa before I enter the upper midwest, my home.  That happens today.

Goodbye from Acova, Iowa where all the motels are above average.

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