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One for the road


I just finished “Democracy in America,” which is a book by a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville on… well, it’s in the title.
To write this book, Tocqueville and his friend Gustave de Beaumont, who was the Dr. Watson of the duo, only without a mustache, sailed to the United States to check out its capital attractions.
Not McDonald’s. Prisons.
These two splendid gents got the French government to sponsor their jaunt across the Atlantic by promising they’d bring back loads of stuff on prisons. Wouldn’t you know, the ploy worked.
But this is not a story about prisons, or getting the American government to sponsor my trip to France to examine, eh… what’s something important? Camembert?
No, this is a story about voyaging. “Democracy in America” may be a profound work of political philosophy, but behind it were two chums on a road trip and the power of friendship.
Not convinced? Don’t give me any snark, now. I should get credit for trying.
I, too, have done some voyaging, though I was not compensated by my country, nor did I write a masterpiece, nor did I set foot in a prison.
But let’s stop talking about the things I haven’t done and talk about the things I have done. That’s the only way to get legislators to put my face on postage stamps.
I went on a road trip once, out west.
There’s nothing like driving in a perfectly straight line across a perfectly flat state when there are no cars before you and no cars behind you.
The only company you have is corn on one side and potatoes on the other.
It gives one a peaceful feeling. You could close your eyes and just float down the road, up until you slam into a beef cow.
I got as far as the red dunes of Utah. They’re terrific. You think you’ve seen sand? Think again. They’re all pink and orange, too.
My sister and I spent an hour running up and down those dunes.
Then we went to the Four Corners and zipped across four states on foot in less than 10 seconds.
Then we had to run home, because someone had left a light on and the bill was rocketing faster than a beef cow after a collision. And that was it.
I haven’t taken a road trip for a good few years. Those days of running up and down hills are as far away as the Badlands (another place worth visiting, if you get the chance).
But every now and then, when I pick up a book or a map or a burger, I start to wonder. Maybe it’s time to look toward the sunset again.
There are a lot of places I haven’t been in America. There are a lot of things I don’t know. I ought to go see them.
Maybe I’ll find a friend to go with me. Maybe I’ll even write a book about it.
And maybe, just maybe, someone else will pay for it.

Copyright 2024 Alexandra Paskhaver, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.