Breathe 2017: On the Road [Part 1]

Sitting in traffic as I watch the exhaust fumes dance in the July heat. The cars all slowly creeping forward. Usually, this would be a scene of angst and impatience, though today things feel different. I mute the radio, sick of clicking around for the perfect sound. Instead I listen to the rubber inch it's way to the next intersection.

I've been on the road for two weeks now, weaving my way throughout the Midwest stopping from small town-to-town, taking in the pastel houses and white picket fences, and aweing at the American flags that hang proudly from the four season porches.

The trip started with a weekend celebration at the cabin, a fourth of July family tradition. Tubing, and tanning, and fishing and food.
Tuesday rolled around and I was to be heading South East for Breathe: A Slackline and Discovery Festival. On a whim, I showed up in the corn fields of Illinois last July and without hesitation decided to make the trek for year two. [Read last years reflection]

On the way I camped on the cliffs of Bluff Country in Winona, Minnesota - soaking up the lush pockets of land and water, redefining the color green. The wild overgrown path tugged and tattered what was left of my layers as I hauled myself up the rivers edge. 


The next day I followed the Mississippi Road and Historic Highway 61, denying any reference to the main drag. Backroads. That is where life happens. It's in the slow down - 60, 50, 40, all the way to a crawling 25 mph. As I decelerate, the finer details surface - painted fire hydrants, pugs and poodles, winding country roads, red barns with chipped paint, half collapsed silos, lawn gnomes and figurine cows, childhood lemonade stands and small town halls with a post office box in front.

Life is slower here, you can feel it.
Simple? You better believe it.

Homemade food at the local kitchen, walls plastered with newspaper articles lining its history and celebrating its specialties. Rhubarb jam and raspberry pie. Crossing through one-church-towns while running into welcome signs with slogans of 'a good place to call home'. Tiny villages and unincorporated shanties. Long ago, forgotten houses with shingles sliding off the North side. The memory of good days past and boarded up dreams, progress and proof of urban sprawl.

The desolate dirt roads shine a light on the beauty that surrounds me, The beauty that is always there, even when my mind is not.

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