September 6, Day 66 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
Debbie and I have a pet saying that we toss back and forth from time to time. When one of us asks the other a question that could only be answered by someone familiar with the area we are in, we’ll say, “I don’t know. I’ve never been here before.” It doesn’t matter that our question arises only to make conversation or to share our thoughts out loud. We’ll still offer the same response.
Our standard answer brings up an important point. Until you have been in a certain locale, you can’t hope to know what it is like, or where to find services…or whether to know that they even exist!
Today, we ventured into Missouri after a one-day trip through Kansas…well, at least the northeast tip of Kansas. I’ve commented before that it always amazes me how different the terrain appears when entering a new state. You’d think I would learn from my own experience, but I expected the western portion of Missouri to be much like what we’d seen in Kansas. Not so! I’ve never been here in Missouri before.
Almost instantly, the horizon-deep corn fields had vanished. Oh, there were still corn fields, but not of the same size as we’d seen in Kansas. The Missouri version of those fields have been whittled down by trees and brush that encompass the landscapes. You can see a long way, and the land doesn’t have imposing mountains or thick forests, but you can’t see as far to the horizon as you could in Kansas.
The other major surprise has been the rolling hills. Debbie and I crested hill after hill on Missouri’s letter-named roads, only to find another hill staring us in the face. At the end of the day, Garmin told us we had gained 3,400 feet of elevation. That’s a mountain terrain reading, not one for the plains. However, our sore leg muscles validated the reading.
Any experience in life will help clarify whether or not our expectations measure up to reality. Until we actually participate or explore for ourselves, our notion of what an activity or location is like is swayed by our own biases and experiences. We may just lead others–and ourselves–astray with our perceptions. After all, we’ve never been here before.