There’s something to be said for road trips – small adventures within a larger one, little lives of their own, precious and forever remembered like each kiss of a love story.

They are my favorite way to travel. I enjoy the absolute freedom bordering anarchy, the long, cozy hours at the wheel, rocked gently by the rhythm of speed and hypnotized by the flickering of passing poles and changing scenery.

I crave the symbiotic relationship established with the road, becoming part of the landscape, playing an active role in the moment, scanning far ahead for hidden  danger, exchanging courtesies with other drivers.

I long the humming of the wind and the courageous purring of the engine, and a radio sometimes, playing nostalgic melodies as asphalt stretches back and forth to infinity.

I miss the curious and enthusiastic conversations and the silences that follow, as one searches inside for echoes to what the eyes perceive and the mind instantly transforms.

And then there are the stops. Like as many camp nights on an Everest ascent, like a ship’s layovers on strange islands, they become a time to reflect and explore and try to understand differences, and draw parallels. They are the calm before the storm, or they might be the storm itself. A chance to exercise sore muscles, and unpack, and establish a very temporary residence. A challenge to unfold an immaterial white flag and approach indigenous populations.

Stopping means having time to breathe deep, listening closer for the heartbeat of a community, for the sounds of a different life, for the murmurs of nature. It’s becoming an ambassador and at times engaging in duels. Everything in a road trip revolves around discovery, of one’s self if nothing else. And just as we never come out of such an ordeal unchanged, we end up leaving little bits of our own heart behind, near-invisible footprints that forever contribute to the spirit of a place.

The question is: are those footprints as beautiful as they can be?

[All picture captions © MarieBokkie™]