Off We Go!
In some respects I have done this before – driving the length of Route 66. The first time it was an experience rich in discovery and imagination. Discovery of what Steinbeck called the "mother road," which carried about 250,000 Americans from Midwestern depression and despair many decades ago to the opportunity that drew them to California. It wasn't easy for them, but they did it, and moved toward their dreams.
It isn't particularly easy now either. The road is hard to follow in some states and what is left is often merely a shell of its former glory. That is where imagination comes in. I am entranced by what probably was present during the route's heyday and fascinated by what has been left behind for our consideration today.
The first trip for me was a bit of a 2,400-mile lark. I was joined on two separate segments by two special friends, but the rest of the time it was just me and the road. I didn't even listen to much music. The thrum of the highway encouraged deep thought and personal exploration. It was – and is – a very special gift for which I am very grateful.
This second journey – one that will begin in about an hour – will follow the same path; indeed, there is only one Route 66. This time I am joined by an intrepid band of talented colleagues who will help me record the purpose of this second journey. What I want to do this time is to converse with Main Street America on the subject of higher education. Specifically, are those of us entrusted with the leadership of colleges and universities responding to the hopes and dreams of Middle America? I hope so, but sometimes I am not so sure.
My colleagues have arranged some very interesting interviews and meetings. I have my questions ready, and I look forward to hearing the answers these new friends will share with me. I think the purpose of a blog is to invite comment, and I certainly welcome the inquiries and observations of those who want to follow along over the next ten days.
Much as I look forward to the journey and appreciate the planning that has been done, I suspect the best part will be the surprises and serendipities along the way. So, off we go.