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Archive for Wednesday, March 24, 1999

SHORT TRIPS OFTEN TURN INTO BEST JOURNEYS

March 24, 1999

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Spring Break. It has come and gone for Baker University students. Baldwin school district students are in the midst of that freedom.

It's a breath of what is to come -- summer -- and can renew young spirits with the strength to commit to studies through the rest of the school year, or rob the mind of concentration as students restlessly endure two more months of school.

College and older high school students may take to the road, or air, to the snow-capped mountains of the western states or to a warm sunny place on a beach. In many cases, bank accounts and parents may force students to the worst spring break destination of all -- home. In fact, I know of some high school students who are convinced that they are the only students left here this week, instead of joining thousands of others at Padre Island.

As imperative as it may seem to be part of a traditional Spring Break destination, what you can stumble across on a backroad not far from home may surprise you.

Road trips can be cheap -- especially if you split the cost of gas with friends. And even if you go in search of nothing, you may find much more than what you are looking for.

And (parents of high school parents cringe here) the short span between too young and too old is the best time to hit the road to nowhere -- before life and work are the same thing, before every endeavor beyond Wal-Mart has to be planned to fit into a hectic schedule, before family vacations require timetables in order to see it all.

My first college road trip led some friends and I less than 200 miles from where we started.

With "The Bridges of Madison County" in hand -- which at the time was a relatively unknown book -- we headed for Winterset, Iowa, and its seven covered bridges on a dreadfully cold, winter day. We didn't plan any of it. We left the same day we thought of going, and we took the only car that was mechanically sound enough to get us out of town.

We could have taken I-35 and set the homely station wagon on cruise, but instead we turned onto a forgotten highway and explored the tiny towns and the intriguing landscape along the way.

Before we got to our destination, we had already seen what we needed to see -- although we didn't know any of it was there.

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