The good news: I love my job.
The bad news: Since I have a real job now, my husband and I won’t be able to do a six-week road trip like we did in August and September for the past two years. Mind you, I’ve been on many of the road trips over the years, and all is not lost in the travel department for us as we’re planning a big but shorter trip for later this fall.
One of the ways we’ve come up with to get the most out of our road trips is by driving just five hours a day. Of course there are rare exceptions, but in general we stick to our maximum of five hours in the car every day.
One of the things the five o’clock rule does is make us stop at places we would otherwise have rushed — places like Lake Havasu City, Arizona; Pocatello, Idaho; Ketchum, Idaho; Big Fork, Montana; and much more.
Frankly, I’m jealous of a road trip, but the postcards readers send for my postcard project help ease my craving.
This week I got another great batch of postcards – up to 99 in total! So far, here at the paper, we’ve received postcards from 29 states and nine countries.
I still miss postcards from Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South -Carolina and West Virginia.
I got at least five postcards from the Atkins family as they traveled from one national park to another in an RV.
In 2016, after our home in Lafayette was flooded, all kinds of people volunteered to help us. One was a man named Anthony Atkins. I didn’t know him, but we were chatting as he helped clear the ruined things from our house.
We discovered that we were both originally from Mississippi. He said he was from Columbus, Mississippi, a place where I learned English in high school when I was 21. I asked his name again. He told me. I asked if he remembered the name of his English teacher in the ninth grade.
You guessed it. Years ago, somewhere far away, I was his English teacher. I loved being a part of his family’s journey in the years since – including their road trip this summer.
A postcard this week came from Macaulay Salmon Hatchery in Juneau, Alaska. Versa Stickle wrote that she sees “how fish farms improve salmon production without using actual fish farming. Enjoying cool weather with a group of LSU students studying marine biology.”
Earlier this year, Demaris Swint sent a postcard in honor of the National Postcard Week, which was held from 1 to 7 May. The card was shipped from Alamo, Texas, and includes a chocolate fudge recipe.
Swint said: “I live on a farm that has live chickens for sale. I like to read historical novels and cook. My favorite movie is ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’; she was a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic. My favorite book is ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ by Katherine Patterson. My favorite song is ‘Let There be Peace on Earth’. Be the sun, not the rain.”
A reader sent another wooden postcard this week. This one is from Dana Territo and shipped from Rapid City, South Dakota. She said she is traveling through the Dakotas on her way home from “mourning training” in Colorado. She said, “Of course Mt. Rushmore was the highlight, but the Black Hills and Badlands were also something to see.’
Someone who signed his name as Ger. Schexnayder sent a postcard from Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa. I didn’t know there was a Snake Alley in Iowa – and certainly not one you could drive through, lined with flowering trees. Schexnayder said, “July in Iowa is hotter than summers in Louisiana. I’m told the corn releases heat during the growing season.” Aside from Schexnayder, who knew?
I also got a postcard with a picture of an Arizona treasure map (and instructions to remember and then burn) from Burgie Dave, who has one of the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen. Clearly Dave is a guy who knows how to make the most of the space on a postcard.
These snippets of life shared by other people were a highlight of my summer. My still-healing broken leg keeps me from running, but every morning I run as fast as I can to my mailbox to see what’s there.
They are a reminder of the importance of sharing joy with others. To quote someone I once read, “Be the sunshine, not the rain.”
Join the postcard project. Send a postcard to Jan Risher, The Advocate, 10705 Rieger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809.