Go West, Old Woman (or How I Sought Enlightenment on the Road To Santa Fe)


So I retired. Oh, way back in October of last year. I could say many things about retirement, but I’m still adjusting. When I’m done adjusting, I’ll let you know.

And with retirement one joins the ranks of aging nomads. Retirees are a restless group, it seems. I have had it in my head for some time to visit Santa Fe. Because I’ve never been to Santa Fe. Also, I think of it as a kind of post-retirement journey, a search for enlightenment if you will. Enlightenment has eluded me till now. Other people have been having epiphanies right and left. I am still waiting for mine. I think I deserve one.

I’ve been planning the trip to Santa Fe for a couple of months, so of course, on the eve of departure I came down with a really horrible cold. These are the drugs I ingested yesterday while packing: Dayquil, Nyquil, acetiminophen, aspirin, Claritin, 12-hr. sudaphedrin, a decongestant, an antihistamine, liquid cough suppressant, spray cough suppressant, and several throat lozenges. At least I think that’s all. I don’t know. I’m still dosing. The result is that I seem to have packed for an extended tour of the Australian Outback instead of two weeks in the southwestern United States. At some point I must have decided to just throw in half my wardrobe and sort it out later. Then there’s the bags of food and CDs and books and audiobooks and things I might need, you never know (a heating pad, a clothesline with little plastic clips), 30 bottles of water, meditation chimes with a little mallet, maps, tour books, pens, highlighters, and a sackful of over-the-counter medications. Truly, I looked in the trunk this morning and thought, what the hell. Then I got in the car and left. Drove for six or seven hours (who’s counting) and landed at the Comfort Inn in Omaha.

So here’s what I discovered on Day 1:

My little Honda Fit can make it from Minneapolis to Omaha on a tank of gas.

72 mph is my speed limit. Not 70, not 75. 72. Go ahead and pass me going 85. I don’t care. I’m all drugged up on Dayquil.

Our American way of life wouldn’t last a day if they took all the trucks off the road. Big trucks rule the freeways!

Freeway rest stops on a Tuesday afternoon are mostly inhabited by people with gray hair. And gray-haired people leading around even older gray-haired people. And people with dogs.

Truck stop waitresses are always friendly.

Nebraska does not welcome you. You know how all the states have those roadside greetings as you’re entering and leaving. (Thanks for visiting Minnesota! Welcome to Iowa!) Not Nebraska. Apparently they just want you to hurry up and get the hell out.

I am not enlightened yet.


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