Words inspired by the backroads of America

Passages

Passages…We all have times in our lives that stand out as a passage from one set of life circumstances to another.  Sometimes they are planned and sometimes they take us by surprise.  I have just gone through a passage in my life that I had planned for many years.  On New Years Day I made the transition from my thirty-five year profession as a Landscape Architect to the full-time status of Printmaker, Travel Writer and Backroads Traveler.  This “retirement” has been a long time coming, but well worth the wait!   

The Road to Steamboat Lake

Just itching to get away from the family gathering for a sanity break, we grabbed a couple of hours and followed a route written up in a local magazine west and north from Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  County Road 129 leaves US40 about one mile west of Steamboat and follows the Elk River through some of the most scenic farm and pasture land we have ever driven through.  The many side roads are tempting and the Elk River flows full and clear, just beckoning to the fisherman.  The Aspen and Cottonwood lined riverbanks frame many a gorgeous vista across the valley.  Take your time to drink it all in. 

The Fraser River Valley, Colorado

Rolling down off of Colorado’s Berthoud Pass on US40 I could feel the tension of the Denver/I-70 drive melting away.  I have always lived in Kansas, but each summer my family would load up the sedan or the wagon and head for the mountains for our summer camping vacation.  For two glorious weeks, my sister and I would climb rocks and hike, throw pebbles in the mountain streams, chop wood for our campfire, feed chipmunks and scout every clearing for signs of deer and bears, while my Dad made an attempt to teach us about wildflowers and igneous versus sedimentary rocks.  I’m still not sure which we got the most out of, but we enjoyed every minute of those trips.  Those old feelings came sneaking back in as my wife and I made our way down and through Winter Park on our way to a few days of respite away from work. 

Covered Bridges and a Step Back in Time

If you yearn for a deep breath of earthy, Midwestern farmland air and a leisurely meander around one of the most photo-op friendly counties in Indiana, take a step back in time and tour the Covered Bridge Capital of the World, also known as Parke County, Indiana. 

The Famous Maytag Blue Cheese

If you happen to be near Des Moines, Iowa, venture 22 miles east to Newton (Exit 164 on US 6 and I-80), and take a few minutes to search out the Maytag Blue Cheese factory, just on the north edge of town.  Now, we had heard of Maytag Blue Cheese, but until our brother-in-law, Tom, introduced us to the gourmet side of designing an entire meal around blue cheese on our recent trip to Amana, Iowa, we would have figured the cheese crumbles found in the local grocery were about as good as it gets.  Let me tell you, as a newly converted aficionado, Maytag will change your whole opinion of blue cheese!  This highly flavorful and mildly pungent wedge is so smooth that it can be enjoyed simply on wheat crackers with a glass of wine. You might actually try a thin slice on a Wheatsworth cracker with a drizzle of honey! 

Communing in the Amanas

Hand-quarried sandstone homes with traditional wall-mounted grapevine trellises, hand-crafted baskets and brooms and a four-star golf course.  Those some of the reasons we chose Amana, Iowa for a location to meet my sister and her husband for a few days of get-away.  It also fit the criteria of being relatively half way between Minnesota and Kansas.   

Autumn in the Hills

One crisp, clear autumn afternoon found us heading north on one of our favorite clear-the-mind routes.  Rolling up through the Kansas Flint Hills on Highway 177 from Matfield Green, we could feel the pressure of the week melting away.  There’s something in the Hills that brings everything into perspective.  Maybe it’s the permanence of the grasses that cloak the rolling horizon, or it might be in the century of time that appears to have passed over this land leaving only the mere vestiges of change.  There is a feeling of strength and eternal beauty that is hard to find in these days of constant change. 

Welcome to Backroads Press

          Since 1996, I have been developing the concept of a venture that is part promotion of the natural scenic landscapes found in many varied forms across the country, part art studio and part travel writing for a publication of my own design.