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The Power of Story
by Joan Wink
Published by Libraries Unlimited/ABCLIO
Copyright © 2018 by Joan Wink
Road Warrior Literacy

Once upon a time, a long, long ago, I used to commute between two worlds–1,534 miles door to door. Ginny, my beloved black Labrador, and I had many grand adventures while driving through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota during those 25 years. In addition, we witnessed many changes on our Western commute. 

In the early days, we seemed to be driving though safe little dusty, rural communities. We stopped in state rest areas for Ginny to run and play. We drove without cell phones or computer connectivity and didn’t worry. The truth is that there were often long, endless stretches without AM or FM radio stations. In the early days, I used to mutter that I couldn’t get a good cup of coffee from Turlock to Rapid City.

Eventually, I began to notice changes. The mining money transformed little dusty ranch towns into bustling clean communities with better roads, more lights, clean parks, and swimming pools. Ginny and I experienced the explosion of technology, and I found that if I parked near any casino in Nevada, I could jump on their Internet service provider—free. This was long before I knew anything about cyberspace security. Eventually, I began to notice a greater variety of radio programs to help pass the long hours. I could find more music and news. I remember when I started to find better coffee, more often, and finally even a latte.

Many of these social and technical changes were very positive. However, simultaneously I began to feel my sense of security change to a sense of vulnerability. I started looking for safer paces for Ginny to run and play and for me to rest a bit. 


We could go into any town during that long commute and find a local library. I felt totally safe in the parking lots, and Ginny could run and play. When I entered the buildings, I found air conditioning and clean rest rooms. You guessed it—they even had books. Lots of books—just for my pleasure. Reflecting on those days of travel, I can now see that this is when I developed my Road Warrior Literacyand fell madly in love with public libraries. No more rest areas in isolated areas for Ginny and me.