Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pinnell: The case for the great American road trip

The case for the great American road trip
By Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell

“I want to get into my car and drive until I find what I’m looking for. Maybe it’s purpose or maybe it’s a new start or maybe it’s just a sky with unclouded stars.”
—Author unknown
Thanks to the hard work of our health care professionals and the sacrifices made by our people to be responsible and stay at home, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

As we emerge from the immediacy of the health crisis, many questions will be asked. What did we learn? How did we innovate? When will we be OK again?

I would argue that big, important questions like these demand the clarity and reflection that can come from a great American road trip.

After the reasonable limitations on nonessential travel are lifted, a road trip with friends or family to explore new places is exactly what Americans need.

With plenty of space to social distance, a road trip gives us time to breathe, laugh and support small businesses along our authentic Main Streets. A time to re-center and fuel the economy — that’s what I call a win-win.

We are blessed to live in Oklahoma, a state with back roads and blue skies for days. From our indigenous founders to the pioneering history in the western prairie, from our uniquely diverse ecology to more miles of the Mother Road (Route 66) than any other state, there’s history and heritage around every curve. We definitely know a good road trip, and we know it’s food for the soul.

“I take to the open road,” said Walt Whitman. “Healthy, free, the world before me.” From mental health benefits to clearing our heads and hearts, a road trip just may be the healing you’re looking for.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been forced to simplify our lives. We are reevaluating things that seemed normal staples, realizing that the regular hustle and bustle doesn’t have to be the norm. Maybe there is more to life than the manufactured busy-ness and mundane routine many of us fall into. Perhaps doing more to see the world around us can help rebuild the sense of community and empathy for others that have long been integral to the American experience.

As we ask ourselves what is America and who are we after this unprecedented pandemic, what better exercise than to actually go see it? See its raw beauty, its diversity, its freedom, and the melting pot of people and cultures that line the pavement.

Author Michael Wallis says of the iconic Route 66 road trip that the trip invites us to experience the country before it became generic. A Route 66 journey puts us in touch with our roots and ourselves. It is a road of phantoms and dreams that has always offered promise.

While Route 66 certainly is iconic, any Oklahoma road trip will do. It could be to Black Mesa, Broken Bow, the Great Salt Plains, the Wichita Mountains or simply the Farmers Market one county over.

It will soon be time to explore the stories of Oklahoma again, time to see this country, its past, present and now uncertain future.

Whether for purpose or a new start, or just to see a sky with unclouded stars. Oklahoma, our economy will roar again, and I believe it will start with a great American road trip.

1 comment:

  1. I am an Oklahoma artist. My husband and I sell my artwork reproduced on ceramic tiles - mostly through wholesale sales to the type shops this article refers to - trading posts, welcome centers and museum stores. When this shut down first started, of course our orders stopped and my husband worried that our business might never come back. I told him I thought that families wouldn't want to get on a plane for awhile but I thought they sure will be ready for a road trip. It's great to know someone else thinks the same way!


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