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The Roads Much Traveled

January 28, 2023

Another Way for week of January 20, 2023

The Roads Much Traveled

Is there a certain road that has carried you places over many years? Even to various “hometowns?” What memories do those roads bring to mind?

Cousins playing “car” in Indiana.

There’s a fairly long-standing highway which snakes for 709 miles all the way from northern Indiana, to almost the Atlantic Coast down near Norfolk, Virginia. It is known as Route 33 (sometimes called the Lincoln Highway). But we think it is kind of cool that we can hop on Highway 33, about nine miles from where we live, and drive straight to where my mother lived for the last 15 years of her life.

Not that we actually did that. Oh we went to where she lived, but used various roads. Let me explain.

We long ago learned that to follow Highway 33 all the way takes you through the deep hills and hollers of West Virginia—which are lovely, but not when you’re trying to get somewhere quickly. So, there are other roads we used especially since it’s so easy to map out your route on your smart phone. (Always keep in mind that you do have to be smarter than your phone so when it takes you a questionable way, you override it, right?) And now one of my daughters lives almost along Route 33 near Columbus, Ohio, so that’s another touchpoint.

But this Highway 33 in my growing up years was a main thoroughfare very near where we went to church in Goshen, Indiana, and where I went to high school for three years. On the other end in Virginia—Highway 33 takes us to the places where we shop, buy groceries, eat fast food, and to recreational areas. We used to follow it down through Richmond, Virginia where it now ends, to take our daughter to college in Williamsburg, Va.


Wikipedia tells me Highway 33 roughly follows “a historic trail used by Native Americans from Chesapeake Bay to Lake Michigan.”

You may not live anywhere near any of these places but you probably live in North America. It is healthy to recall that so much of the land we love was once used by indigenous people who lived here first. Often tribes were moved farther and farther west, north and south. I will not say they “owned,” the land because it was a very important concept among those tribes of people: the lands were something they lived on and used but didn’t look at as something they owned.

A stretch of road out west in the U.S.


But back to the roads you traveled as a child. In our family, we children would sometimes close our eyes driving to or from church and we could usually detect exactly where we were on that somewhat curvy, hilly road. The path along the road was in our bones or bodies, so we knew when we were going “over Mitterling’s hill” or curving by Groves’ farm. Maybe you had a road you were allowed to walk down or drive your bike to visit friends a short distance away.

Traveling with Grandpa down Great Grandma’s hall, a few years back. Route 33 was less than a half mile away.

We were blessed that although we lived in the country, some of our best friends lived about a half mile away, and at the time the roads were deemed safe enough for us to walk. When we got older we rode bikes. Sometimes in the summer we trespassed on a neighbor’s field walking through tall corn rows, which was quicker and probably safer.

Those who live in large cities get used to the layers of cloverleafs and bridges and underpasses that confound us when we country folk reach them and almost panic: “How will we be able to get through this?” With great care and tension, we navigate those curves and exits. That is also like life. Our friends and relatives help us along. 

Nearing the Atlantic Ocean.


Over the next couple weeks I’m launching a series on friendship, using stories and thoughts from a variety of sources. I hope you’ll travel along with me as we work on nurturing precious relationships.


What road, lane, or highway stands out in your memory?

Comments here or send to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Melodie, this post helped me visualize route numbers from bygone days. During college days, Route 11 took me from Lancaster County, PA to EMU, then EMC. Leaving the college in Virginia, I knew we were close to my home when we passed through York on our way to Elizabethtown, PA.

    After Cliff and i were married and had children, we traveled from Jacksonville on I-95 taking “detours” with pokey side-roads because the interstate was incomplete. We made this journey multiple times because we wanted our children to have strong connections with several generations of the Longenecker family. In 2019, I did make the trip by car again because I was carrying boxes of books on my Mennonite Daughter book tour. I do much prefer the train or flying these days. 😀

    • Ah yes, Route 11! Before Interstate 81. By the time I got to EMC 81 was done, but a great memory of mine on R 11 was a Sunday afternoon motorcycle drive with a fellow student who took me all the way to Winchester and back. It was fun for the first 15 minutes and then of course bottom soreness crept in. He was a very nice guy but we never took the relationship much further …. and I’m glad not to be married to a motorcycle aficionado. Opps, maybe Cliff drove/drives one?

      But yes, we made many long drives to Indiana from Virginia, Stuart and I, with our girls so they would know their Indiana Grandpa and Grandma–and they do treasure those memories. And now I’m tearing up.

      Anyway, thanks for the memories!

  2. No motorcycle for Cliff, just a bicycle.

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