Notes from behind the wheel

For many years now in short bursts, I have jotted down notes as I drive along the roads of America.  I balance a notebook on my right knee, the foot below firmly pressing the accelerator.   I scribble quickly with a pen, my head bobbing like a crazy cork to check traffic.  Dangerous, I know.   It is the Old World version of texting while driving.

There is no rhyme or reason to do the note-taking other than personal quirk.

The notes mostly deal with mileage between various places along the way, data in most cases you could pull from a Rand McNally.  It’s a habit that probably originated with the monotony of driving.   The note-taking somehow makes me feel good.   And that is the main thing.

Here is a sample taken from page 45 of my “Kansas Trip 2013” notebook.

“Welcome to Flint Hills” [sign] 15.7 [miles from Topeka] — Fort Riley 55.0 — Smoky Hill R 57.8 — Jct City 59.5 — Abilene 81.1 — (2 fires N of Salina) — Dole-Specter sign re boyhood home (Russell) 165.5 . . . . ”

The notes are often put aside on returning home, but always preserved, languishing for years untouched in a filing cabinet.  But once in a while datum finds its moment in the sun.  It happened just a few days ago.

A Facebook Friend, Marlene, recently posted her disgust of Kansas rest areas. She was “appalled at how run down, poorly maintained and dirty the KS facilities were. They did not make me proud of our beautiful state, and they do not reflect a positive image of our state to people passing through.”

I remembered stopping once at a rest area in Kansas during my trip last month and finding no such disgusting facilities.  Trouble was I couldn’t remember where.  I began searching my notebook, hoping to solve the mystery.

Being of a certain age, I note the all-important rest areas with an “R.A.”  As I flipped through the notebook pages, I found the R.A. I had in mind.  It was on the back of page 48:  “R.A. 78 [degrees F.] 105.0 [west of Hays].  The item was circled which meant I had used the facilities there.   The location was 5 miles west of Colby, KS.

That little note jogged my memory.  I remembered the stop.  Two men, possibly a father and son, coming out of the men’s toilet.  Nearby, college kids, traveling in two cars, milling around the place, some snacking, laughing, loud talk.  I assumed they were headed to the mountains of Colorado for holiday.  I had no clear picture of the men’s restroom, but I’m certain if it had been horrible I would’ve made a note.

So I was able to reply to Marlene’s lament, though I doubt she appreciated my input that seemed to contradict her assertion.

Anyway you never know when a note from behind the wheel will come in handy.


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