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The Roads I Have Traveled: A Moment With Bill Reflection

Updated on January 14, 2014

Life Is a Journey

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

John Steinbeck

A tired cliché if there ever was one but still, true. From the moment we emerge from the womb, kicking and screaming, to that final moment when our hearts beat their last beat, we are on the road trip of life. We make decisions, we respond to stimuli, we bounce about to and fro, some moves calculated and some merely unconscious reactions.

Imagine your body as the body of a sleek roadster. Your mind is the engine and your heart the transmission, propelling you forward as each year passes. There are slick roads to be sure; there are potholes no doubt; there are also long stretches of road where all is smooth and the wind is at your back, allowing you to use cruise control for a great portion of the trip.

We do the proper maintenance. We periodically check our fluid levels. We check our tires for proper tread. We make sure those brake pads are functioning properly and we keep our eyes on the gauges for any signs of trouble…but still….there are days when we hear strange sounds coming from the engine, and there are days when for no apparent reason our car breaks down and we need a tow.

And finally there comes a day when no amount of maintenance will fix our ills and we find ourselves heading for that great salvage yard in the sky.

Come with me as I look at the roads I have traveled. Buckle up that seatbelt and get comfortable. I’m a good driver so relax and enjoy the ride.

This is me driving
This is me driving | Source

The Obvious Highways of Life

See this map here? These are the places I have visited. There are so many places I have yet to see, and hopefully time will allow me to see them.

Born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. One day in 1979 my wife and I decided it would be interesting to live in New England, so we packed up our bags and headed for a two-year stay in Vermont. Cross-country we went, young and clueless about the risks being taken and the losses to be incurred. It was an adventure and that was enough for us.

Two years teaching in Oregon, one year teaching in Alaska, thirty-eight states visited and hundreds of thousands of miles of pavement traversed. Toss in several trips to Canada, two trips to Mexico, the random journeys to Yellowstone, Big Sur, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, the Smoky Mountains and on and on. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with tears in my eyes; watching the sun rise from atop Mount Rainier after a successful ascent; feeling the wind in my hair and music in my heart as I waded into the Missouri River, body-surfed the Pacific, and rafted the Deschuttes.

I have always gravitated towards the back roads, those little two-lane paths that led through farmland and backwater towns, seeing the real America and not the Madison Avenue illusion. I will stop along the side of the road, lay beneath a willow and watch the clouds drift by. I will eat at greasy diners and listen to the locals talk about crop prices and the approaching weather. I will sit in rapture as I witness the everyday activities of people from different backgrounds who share so many similarities with me.

Sleep beneath the stars under the Big Sky of Montana and dare to wonder about life’s answers. Gaze upon the seemingly endless horizons of Kansas as the wheat bends in the wind and the swallows frolic in a nearby hayloft. Talk to a Cajun in New Iberia Parish, debate with a blueblood in Boston, toss a Frisbee with a small child in Lafayette Park, and shout out in glee as the Northern Lights reflect upon the snow in Fairbanks; those memories and so many more are mine to call upon as I sit in my studio on a rainy, windy January day in Olympia.

Early on the journey
Early on the journey | Source

The Not-so-obvious Highways

Moving from the concrete to the ethereal, we have those journeys traveled, not physically, but rather emotionally and psychologically.

The journey from childhood to the teens and then adulthood; the journey from single status to married status; the journey from irresponsible to parenthood; these are sojourns that cannot be found on a map but are still very real.

We say “I do” but then we don’t. We accept the schooling and then the training, always preparing for that next career move up ahead. We jockey for position along the rail in hopes to cut down the distance around the track, only to find we had planned on six furlongs when in fact the race was a mile, or we planned on a mile and forgot to sprint when the race was unexpectedly shortened.

Take a job here, take a job there, move to a nicer neighborhood, sink into debt chasing the American Dream, call the boss an asshole and have no dream at all.

And then there are the manufactured dreams, the delusional illusions brought on by alcohol and drugs. We choose excess and we choose deprivation. We embrace philosophical or we embrace the physical rush. We go the path of the caregiver or we go the path of the taker. We are the prey or the hunter, the light of hope or the shadow of darkness. We are the culmination of thousands of causes and effects, and we are randomness personified.

All on the journey of life.

The last leg of the journey
The last leg of the journey | Source

And Then the Road Ends

Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You'll find what you need to furnish it - memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.

Tad Williams

After sixty-five years I am fully aware that my own personal journey is drawing to a close. Will there be a warning? Will the “check engine” light come on letting me know there is a breakdown that is imminent, or will I simply round a curve and have no more pavement before me? I could “live” with the first option: I could “live harder” with the second.

It’s been one hell of a trip. I can say without hesitation that I have not been cheated, and I guaran-damn-tee that I will not be cheated in the time I have left. There are still some miles left in this car of mine. The engine is purring and the transmission is still shifting smoothly. I am thrilled that I still have opportunities ahead of me. I am ecstatic that there will be other willows to lay under, that there will be other lakes to float in, that there will be other natural wonders to bow down before.

Keep your eyes peeled on the horizon. You just might see me coming up your driveway in the near future, and I’ll come bearing gifts. I promise you the gift of a smile. I promise you the gift of friendship. And I promise to infect you with the sense of wanderlust that has always been my companion.

The Beatles can finish this as well, if not better, than I can.

“I was alone, I took a ride, I didn’t know what I would find there.”

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Toknowinfo, thank you so much. I love life and I am fascinated by the journey. I, too, hope I have many more journeys to share.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 3 years ago

      It is always interesting Bill, to learn more about you each time you write about yourself. I truly love the metaphors you used in describing the journey we take. Our dreams,our desires, our needs make up our map that guide us on our journey. Our experiences make us who we are. I think you have a lot more miles to pack on, keep sharing your story, and journeying safely. Thanks for a wonderful read.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, right you are....maybe it isn't the end and we'll come back wiser. Wouldn't that be nice? :) Thank you!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      So well said. Our journeys are all basically the same, and we all learn one thing. How to be tolerant of each other and ourselves. By the time we finish the ride we are wise enough to do it again, RIGHT, but it is at an end.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, we can only hope and thank you my friend. I haven't seen you recently; I hope all is well with you and yours.

      bill

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      You always use metaphors brilliantly.

      Your time sounds well spent so far and your positive approach is heartening.

      I am sure there are many more winding roads and beautiful views on your horizon. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, what a lovely thing for you to say. Thank you so much. You know, the funny thing is, I don't consider my life to be that spectacular....I've just lived it, randomly and with gusto. Anyway, thank you!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I have read your traveling adventures now and then and each time I come away even more inspired and changed through your shared experience. I do pray you have many more years to influence us through your writing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martie, I've always had trouble with that speed limit thing, but i'll try. :) I'm so happy to have you stop by; it's always a pleasure my friend. Take care!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      I saw this one's title on your profile and just could not leave your corner before reading this. Excellent description of your journey. I believe most of us can relate. You have a wonderful talent with words, you create exciting rollercoasters with it - my description for enjoyable reading experience.

      Take care, Billy. Keep air in your tyres and fuel in your tank and hope for the best.... oh, and mind the speed limit....

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, it has been a wonderful life. Potential trouble only adds spice to the experience. I may be gutsier than I am intelligent. :)

      Keep the light on for us; we just might show up one of these days.

      bill

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      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Fascinating insight into some of your life, bill. We all make our own roads and follow them if we dare. Usually, it's much better to accept the dare than not, even if it ends in trouble. Our experiences, good and bad, make us better people and much better equipped to understand others.

      You and Bev would be welcome at my front door any day.

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome vkwok! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia! In case you couldn't tell, I love life. :)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub, full of wisdom.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an interesting way to look at life, Bill. I love your ideas and I love the quotes, too!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Joelle! It's been a great ride so far and my engine is purring for more, more and more. :) I hope you have a great evening as well my friend.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Beautiful way to see life... and I hope for you that you can still enjoy life for a long time; so many beautiful things to see, fantastic experiences to live, interesting people to meet, etc.

      Sometimes, I have the feeling that I have lived several lives in this lifetime because I was lucky enoug to travel, and live all kind of experiences throughout my life. I must say that I hope like you to still have a lot of time in front of me to have "several new lives" :-)

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject! Have a nice evening!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Danida, I love your absolute dream. Let me know if you ever make it to Washington State...Bev and I will be your tour guides. :) Thanks for the visit.

    • Danida profile image

      Danida 3 years ago from London

      Your journey across the US sounds amazing -- it's my absolute dream to road trip the States, and drive through the empty desert backroads with classic rock playing...

      Of course, the mental journey of life is also difficult but rewarding. I hope that when my time comes I can truly say that I've lived.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, I feel the same about you. I have learned so much about life and love from you, and my gratitude knows no bounds. Blessings to you always, and hugs heading your way.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, I am honored by your words and grateful for your friendship. Thank you and leave that porch light on; one day I'll be here and Tillson is on my itinerary.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora! Randomness is greatly under-appreciated. I love the mysteries of life.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jamie. You are appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Stages, that was a lovely thing for you to say. Thank you and I'll save you a spot in the salvage yard. :) Blessings to you always.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Our lives really are filled with many roads and I wonder about the road Robert Frost wrote about...you know the one, the road not taken...I wonder if another road would have lead to a different outcome?? Of course it would have but it certainly could not have been more interesting that this one is?? Could it? As Frost says, taken the road less traveled made all the difference for him...I am inclined to think it is so for me as well.

      Yes our time will run out but we will have learned so much along the way. And I will be waiting for you to bring your smile and friendship as you drive up the little side road that leads to my place.

      You are a gift, bill, to us every day. Angels are on the way to you this morning...ps

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Let's see, Key West, London, southern USA, Tillson, NY and that is just the tip of the iceberg. All you really need is gas money your friends will take care of the rest ;) I can't even imagine seeing you walking up my driveway though I'd love to!

      Nora Ephron once said about writing, "“You better make them care about what you think. It had better be quirky or perverse or thoughtful enough so that you hit some chord in them." YOU my friend do that with every piece you write.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      "Randomness personified." I like that. What's important is that we enjoy the randomness even when we cannot make sense of it. A great share. Thank you, Bill.

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      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      Great writing to end my day. Thanks for a great read. Jamie

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 3 years ago

      billybuc

      My check engine light has come on and then went out and then back on, but oh what a ride. I really look forward to meeting you in the salvage yard one of these days. Great Hub and God Speed as you travel the future roads. You dear billybuc are that light of HOPE, keep on shining and sharing. Blessings always

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, that is as beautiful a comment as I have read in a long time. If you are not a writer then I don't know the meaning of the word. Keep spreading beauty through your words; the world needs more of it.

      blessings always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, I know you love these reflective pieces. I'll try to do more of them for you in the near future. Thank you for being you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, that is definitely on my to-do list. I want to visit so many of you and sit down as friends and enjoy each other's company. Definitely something to look forward to.

      You are a gem!

      blessings always

      bill

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 3 years ago

      Good evening my friend.

      Conspicuously attractive journey, giving us to perceive a bit clearer how byllibuck has been shaped into what is he became. You've been overcoming hard life's lessons only to get better prepared for the tougher challenges to face victoriously. Your second half of journey has solid base to be more successful. See, at sixty we start going toward the sunset of earthly measure. The One who sent us into the body we are responsible to take good care of , has said a hundred twenty years will be your mortal length ... Though no one of us knows how this happy endeavor could be shortened, we live, create, spreading the fragrance of love around, while ready and prepared as if next minute a call ' come home ' comes: " into arms of God , where we all came from we'll return home."

      Voted up, awesome , beautiful.

      Please, continue enhancing our journey as you do.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I love it when you reflect on memories past. You have lived, not everyone can say that. Using an automobile as a metaphor for our bodies is clever and spot on. We ' gotta keep it tuned up, every once in awhile, we gotta have it overhauled, but we keep on truckin' We are happy campers that has a lot more livin' to do. Cheers my friend

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      You have lived a full life, and it ain't over 'til it's over!!! 65, well, then, young man, you are nowhere near the finish line. Heck, do not be surprised you could be looking at another good 40 years! Remember, the most famous writers, artists, inventors and the like, did not do their best work well into their 80s!

      I do hope that in the near future, I will get to travel more and see more of this planet, for I know I have not seen much at all. I hope to make it a reality within the next few years or so. I may have to write a Global: Hubber to Hubber piece and see during my travels if I can meet some of my favorite writer friends! That would be awesome indeed, and you are on the list dear Bill.

      Hugs and blessings,

      Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, I have had a fantastic trip so far and I look forward to the rest of it. Thanks for the visit my friend.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Life sure is never the journey you expected it would be. You can plan but along the way there sure will be side trips, potholes, and moments you are completely lost. You've had a great trip so far!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, thank you so much. There is a lot to love about life if one is willing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nadine, in all honesty that thought scares me. :) I have no desire to be barely functional at ninety....but we'll see what happens. Thank you my friend.

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      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Bill, you have a great view on life, and I agree with everything you say. Our bodies can very much be likened to a car, needing regular maintenance to keep on going. Good hub.

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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Nice to read your journeys around the USA. Reminded me of the book: Zen and the art of motorcycling maintenance. Do not know why. ( Then the Road Ends) Billy you might still have 30 years ahead of you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      For sure, Sheila. Give me those back roads any old day. That's where the down-and-dirty folk live. :) Thanks for the visit my friend.

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      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      Yet another thing we have in common - a love for traveling and taking the scenic route of the back roads. Sometimes it seems the other areas of my life are like those little two-lane roads where you can go for miles and never see another person or be seen by them. But what a joy it is when we meet those other travelers because they seem much easier to talk to and become friends with.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, what a lovely saying that is...thank you for it. What is interesting to me is that I don't consider my life to be that remarkable...I just figure everyone has a story to tell and a life they have lived. The only difference with me is I'm willing to blab about it. LOL

      blessings my friend

      bill

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 3 years ago

      What an incredible journey you have traveled making your way

      through life. It is hard to imagine the amount of information that

      has transversed your brain.

      If you live long enough, may slower days lead the way to memories

      as precious as jewels,

      friends as cherished as gold and love enough to warm you on cold,

      dark nights.

      Your friend,

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ah, Lesley, I'm reminded of the phrase "sweet melancholy".....we'll have to keep our engines running so we can sit as old friends over a cup of tea. One of these days I'm taking the plane across the Pond to see all of my friends in London...and that will be a wonderful memory.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, that would be a lovely surprise. I'll tell Bev to get the guest room ready. :) No my friend, there are no regrets. Every highway led me to this place and it is a beautiful place indeed. Thank you as always, and blessings to you this week.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, I am not familiar with that book but thanks for the recommendation.

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      Jane Arden 3 years ago

      Sleeping under the stars sounds heavenly Bill. I havent done a lot of physical travel, but I sure have been on emotional rollercoasters! I will be 52 this August and I feel as though I'm on that winding road of closure soon. I dont want there to be a warning light, I'd rather slip away not knowing about it. (I dont mind dying as long as I'm not there.) LOL. "There is still so much life left though Lesley" I hear you say. Thats true, but not as much as I've already had. I will keep my eyes peeled though Bill, looking toward the horizon, waiting to see that smile.

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Wow, I loved this. Life should be lived and you have certainly lived. I find it impossible to ask the question, why are we here? Whilst looking into a beautiful sunset or when I'm at one with the ocean. There are so much beauty in the world, but we often get lost in the negative. Like you, I have some wonderful memories to tap into.There are always good times and bad times but there's no regrets. And when this old engine fails to start, it would still have been a hell of a ride. This is certainly one of you best... maybe one day I'll surprise you. :) Take care and keep that ticker going there are still mountains to climb.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, I should have decided to be a writer about thirty years ago; I'm running out of time now my friend. :) Thank you!

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      Jo Miller 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Are you familiar with the book BLUE HIGHWAYS? I was reminded of it while reading this.

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      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Wow, you have built a few memories I would say! It would sure make a good book, hope you have one warming! ^+

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Ben; much-appreciated.

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      Ben Blackwell 3 years ago

      Good hub.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, i would leave tomorrow if it were possible. I suspect it's going to be another year before it is possible, unless my new novel is an instant success when I get it published. Thanks for leaving the light on...we may just surprise you one day.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Larry, you can count on it...literally. I want Bev to see Iowa and I want to visit Charles City, so there is no way I'm visiting that fine state without stopping by to see you. Thanks for the invite my friend and the kind words.

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      Mary McShane 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

      When I read pieces like this one, it sounds not final in its message of recapping a life well lived, but rather a rebirth. Actually, it screams "road trip" to me, like you're itching to get going. I think as soon as it may be feasible for travel, you might be "On the road again," per Willie Nelson's lyrics. Swing down to Fort Lauderdale some weekend, we'll put the light on for ya!

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      larrykitzmann 3 years ago

      As always well said my friend. Much to relate to here. This maybe one of your best in my humble opinion. Perhaps though that is because I can identify with so much of it. Just wanted to say thanks and the door is always open anytime you find yourself south west Iowa. Just give me a heads up and it's off to my favorite eating spot.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I'm getting the wanderlust again...I need to get in the car and point it in a direction and just go! Thanks buddy; happy trails to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I would definitely do Key West. It's a date my friend. :) Thank you and just think of all the adventures we have in front of us...how cool is that?

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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Just a random thought: When I was growing up in Arizona they had more miles of dirt road than paved. I have never met a road I did not like. Great Hub, thank you

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine. How could I go wrong quoting the Beatles? I love life....as I know you do...so let's live it to the fullest my friend.

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      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      You've been to so many different places. How fortunate for you! I would love to see you come walking up my driveway, but Florida is one of those places you have no interest in seeing. Perhaps we can meet up in Key West? :-)

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      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      Love, love, love that last line and always love when you quote The Beatles, but still I think you have much more time to go and can't wait to see what lies ahead for you (only good things)! Have a great day Bill now.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Kindred...so good to have you stop by for a cup of coffee. More roads behind us than ahead of us....very true....but I'm sure looking forward to the new adventures my friend. Life is a blast and I don't want to miss out on any of it.

      love to you as well

      bill

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      lrc7815 3 years ago

      Ah, my kindred spirit has written another magnificent piece and one that I can (without question) rate right near the top of my favorites. Life certainly is a road trip and I can tell you that I have arrived. I have arrived at that place where "home" is within me and it's a good place to be. You are so wise Bill. You have learned the lessons and continue to teach. Even though we have more roads behind us than ahead of us, you inspire us to continue looking forward. This was beautiful! Love to yu my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DDE, life is a wonderful adventure, not to be wasted. Thank you for being the first visitor today.

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      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Life is full of experiences and good ones and bad ones it sounds like you have had it all and can still take more of what lies ahead. A strong-willed person indeed. Great hub and so much more to endure.