Forever memories are those that stay with you for…well, forever. In conversation with others, forever memories trigger a certain response from you. You want to share the excitement, the reactions you felt, the way the memory has lasted. Almost as if whatever happened was yesterday.
A decade or so ago we took a vacation that has become a forever memory. And if you’ve read William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways, you know what blue highways are. If not, the answer is simple. Older Rand McNally road atlases and maps identified the various types of roadways with color. Major highways appeared in red. Out-of-the-way highways running through small, almost unknown, rural towns appeared in blue.
Our trip was not as long as Heat-Moon’s nor was it circular as his was. But we did have certain restrictions that forced the use of blue highways:
- The direction in which we traveled remained unknown until our morning of departure. This part of our trip was decided over breakfast. We would pull a direction—north, south, east or west—from a hat. Bob drew north.
A hard and almost fast rule depended on one condition. Travel had to be via blue highways unless there was no access between Points A and B other than a major highway. This forced a sense of nostalgia and relaxation as a major component of our travel.
We confirmed no reservations for overnight accommodations. And only once had a difficult time finding availability.
No time schedule was set for each day. Serendipitous activities awaited us. We visited attractions we’d never heard of and visited parks we’d never passed. Meals took place in some of the greatest eateries along the way.
As we headed out of Portland north on Highway 30, we had no idea where we’d end up that night or what we’d see along the way. By lunchtime, we found ourselves at Mt. St. Helen’s and enjoyed a brief visit there as well as had a picnic lunch we’d brought along. The rest of the day we wandered along blue highways. The casual drive presented beautiful farms with old barns and outbuildings. Another bonus was the beauty of the world around us, the peace and quiet of rural Washington state.
By dusk, we started searching for a place to stay. A look at the map showed we were not far from Centralia, WA. Centralia is 90.8 miles and 1.5 hours from Portland. It is clear we didn’t make it very far that first day. Yet, our plan was to relax and enjoy this trip, not worry about a schedule.
Over the next 10 days or so, we spent our time the same way. We visited interesting towns and places we’d never thought about or heard of. Our travel took us as far north as the Northern Cascade Mountains where we saw snowfall during June.
Our memories of this trip are quite memorable. Their uniqueness makes them unforgettable. We have talked many times about how much we enjoyed this trip and how we’d like to do it again.
We haven’t yet, but there is always tomorrow. And there are plenty of blue highways we haven’t hit.
Featured Image Attribution:
Methow Valley, WA in Northern Cascades
Lidija Kamansky/Getty Images