Thursday, September 21, 2023


Some thoughts from the road

By Chuck Woodbury
Here are a few of the many short observations I’ve written through the years. Back when I traveled alone, when a thought would pop into my head while I was driving I would pull over and write it down in a small notepad. I would tear out the page and stuff it in a pocket. At the end of the day, settled into camp, I would gather up the notes. On a good day, my pockets would be stuffed. Some thoughts were stupid or silly, but others provided starting spots for essays, long or short.

Here are a few things I wrote that started like that. I have hundreds more which I will post another time.

Often, when I pass by a church with a giant satellite dish outside pointed toward the heavens, I wonder who the church is communicating with.

Last night as I walked back to my motorhome from an evening walk, I pondered the object in my hand — a flashlight. What a marvelous device — a magic wand that emits a bright beam of light to illuminate my way. What would a caveman have thought? Could he have conceived of such a thing? There are many wonderful, modern devices in our lives, but pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the flashlight is surely one of the greatest. Written in 1988.

(I read this in the Payson (Ariz.) Roundup Newspaper in the fall of 1988: “Because of a lack of applicants, Payson’s 1987 Rodeo Queen, Kim Dorman, has been held over as the 1988 queen.”

I heard this news item on the radio today. A fellow walked into a mini-mart somewhere and put down a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. While the clerk was getting it, the fellow pulled out a gun and demanded the contents of the cash register. The clerk obliged, handing over $15, which the robber grabbed and fled with. Unfortunately for him, he forgot to pick up his $20 bill — leaving him with a net loss of $5 for his caper. —Written in 1992

I love to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. It’s not that I snoop or anything; it’s just that sometimes people talk loudly and you can’t help but hear what they say. My feeling is that if they talk loud enough for other people to hear, then it’s okay to listen. Yesterday, in Morro Bay (Calif.), I walked into a small cafe to get some clam chowder. As I passed a table, I overheard part of a conversation between a man and a woman, both early middle-age. I only caught a few seconds of the conversation, but it was enough to make me yearn for more.

“I know for a fact that it’s my baby,” the man said, and then there was some mumbling between them I couldn’t make out, and then the woman said, “It’s amazing that in just one night. . .” and then I passed out of range. So that’s all I heard. I thought, “What’s he going to do?” But I had no answer. I would have asked him, but I don’t think that would have been very polite, me being a stranger and all. —Written in 1992

I heard a radio ad today in Lander, Wyo., that said the average person smiles 15 times a day. That figures to about once an hour, considering nobody smiles when they’re asleep. It seems to me that we could improve our world a lot if we would all smile 20 times a day. In the United States alone that would be about 1.25 billion more smiles a day. A big improvement, wouldn’t you say? —Written in 1989

At the Very Large Array National Radio Astronomy Observatory near Socorro, New Mexico, comes this interesting fact. The power of this radio telescope is so great that if there were a comparable optical telescope it would be able to spot a nickel in San Francisco from New York. —Written in 1992

To a spider, the interior of a campground pit toilet is a heaven on Earth. Flies and assorted other winged creatures fly inside these aromatic places by the hundreds to be snagged in carefully strung webs. It’s a smorgasbord of enormous proportions to a spider — an earthly paradise where you just hang around and the food comes to you. —Written in 1989

Motorists used to wave to each other more often. When my father got his first Volkswagen in 1957, other VW owners would wave as they passed. Today, if you drive a rare car, and a similar car passes, both drivers will often wave. I think many motorcyclists still wave — especially to others riding similar bikes. If you are driving a lonely road, and you find yourself waving at a passing motorist, then you are practicing a lost art. Lucky you. —Written in 1990

“Don’t tailgate or I’ll flush.” Also, “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” Another good one found on all types of vehicles, which is meaningful today if you remember a certain brand of clothing: “Custer Wore An Arrow Shirt.”

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


  1. As a motorcyclist who has ridden many miles up and down the American West, from Mexico to central British Columbia between the Rockies and the PCH, I can report that Harley riders DO NOT wave at other riders, even other Harley riders — I suppose they’re too “tough” and independent to acknowledge such fellowship. Other riders habitually wave and even give cautionary hand signals to other riders to slow down due to cops or tricky roads ahead. Something else I noticed is that foks in rural areas (or at least in Shasta Valley, when I lived there) also waved at every vehicle that passed, even if they didn’t recognise them or if they happened to be standing by the side of the road or at their mailbox at the time. I was also informed that in small towns people pass the word about who is to be trusted and who isn’t, and so therefore maintaining a good reputation was important…


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