In late May, as summer was launching, I wrote a column heralding the Great American Road Trip. Despite the price of gas, I believe a once-a-year-road-trip to be an excellent notion.
In the past two years, my husband and I have taken two 5,900+ mile-road trips across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas. We spent a lot of time outside in national parks, eating on patios and seeing friends along the way. Both of the trips (which we named Bob2020 and Carl2021) were boons to our spirits. They were reminders of the beauty around us, the kindness of strangers and the ways people everywhere pull together to make the world a better place.
Back in May, I encouraged others to take their own road trips — or travel as they saw fit. I asked if they wouldn’t mind sending me a postcard or two. I wasn’t sure what I would receive, but to your credit, readers, you, your postcards and your wit have delighted me! And I hope those cards will continue through summer’s end.
When the bounty of cards outgrew my newsroom cubicle, I bought a large map, commandeered a wall and started tacking up the postcards.
I’ve had to order more thumbtacks.
I’ve now received 50 postcards from 20 states and five countries. I’ve received postcards from complete strangers, longtime friends and one road-hungry cousin.
Click here to see an interactive digital map of the postcards Jan has received thus far.
Retired teacher, Charlanne Cress, from Zachary, sent in one of my first postcards. It features Louisiana sugar cane. She wrote, “Do hope you receive many postcards from many different places! I have loved postcards for about 75 years – am 79! Postcards really tell stories.”
Keith Long, who moved to my hometown when we were in the fifth grade, now lives in New Orleans. He sent a postcard from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He wrote, “Dearest Jan! Big news! I have been — you may want to sit down — kidnapped by pirates. You can see their ship on front (of the card). I fear they have been plying me with Tequila to keep me compliant. They are taking us to Lord knows where. Probably an all-you-can-eat buffet with singing and silly games, but in today’s world, who can really say?
Jean Bengtson, of Baton Rouge, sent a postcard from Arches National Park in Utah. She and her husband plan to visit four national parks on this road trip. She has emailed me photos from places along their way when they couldn’t find postcards. I have loved following their travels.
Heather Sterling, of Lafayette, has sent 10 postcards, most along the Natchez Trace. On one card, she wrote, “It’s day 2 on the Trace. Although we planned three to four hour drives each day, we’ve learned it takes much more time if you want to do it right. We had no idea how many stops there are! We haven’t hiked every trail, even though they are relative short, but we got in a good number between Cypress Swamp and Tupelo (mile 266). … Onward!”
My cousin Judy Bufkin, of Clinton, Mississippi, has sent me a collection of cool postcards, my favorite being a gorgeous wooden postcard from Astoria, Oregon, that she bought from a local artist at a Sunday market. She sent another card from Seattle and let me know that she was wearing a wool sweater. I love her, but that’s rubbing it in.
Phyllis Davis, of El Paso, Texas, sent a postcard from Iceland. She wrote, “Yesterday we saw the meeting of two tectonic plates — Atlantic and Euro Asian. It’s the only place in the world to see them. Geysers, volcanos and national parks. Loving this trip.”
Miriam Kolwe, of Lafayette, sent a postcard from Route 66. She wrote, “John and I are headed out on a road trip to Utah. More cards to come! Big event: Lightening struck our Jeep in Amarillo while we were driving. We are fine. Jeep is not. We continued in a rented Dodge Ram truck!”
With the hard work and technical-knowhow of intern Bella Dardano, we have created an interactive map for readers to not only see the places where I’ve received postcards, but you can click the point on the map and see the postcards too. I’m hoping to get cards from all 50 states. Take a look at the map and join the fun.
Send postcards to Jan Risher, The Advocate, 10705 Rieger Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70809. We will add them to the map and plan to report back Labor Day weekend.