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Drifting mindlessly through the plains of eastern Colorado, I missed my exit and found myself married to an interstate for which I held no love. I cursed myself and scanned the highway for a means of retreat. But I was deep in desolate unpeopled territory, and as is often the case in desolate unpeopled territory, there was nothing around to inspire the construction of an exit ramp.

I spun onward, feeling trapped and increasingly grumpy. And then, out of nowhere, salvation appeared in the form of an offramp seemingly created for rectifying navigational blunders. I cheered my good fortune and pulled off with the intent of flipping a quick U. But as I curled beneath the highway I saw something for which I have an eternal weakness: a yawning dirt road, rising up and out of sight, that promised to take me some place better--even if I had no idea where that place was. But that was ok. Dirt roads exist for two types of people: 1) farmers, and 2) deeply illogical folks like me.

The dirt made for surprisingly good driving. It was smooth and powdery and my tires whispered quietly as I followed its gentle banks and curves. It was an unmapped road, and while I had no idea where I was heading, the sun was in the right place. The miles piled up and I saw not much of anything at all--no humans, no animals, no farms. Just a snake of dirt ahead and a dusty contrail behind.

And then it appeared. A vision straight out of a cinematographer's wildest imagination: a sky, hanging like a vast painting, that could soften the hardest heart. I pulled over and gazed. The Museum of the Great Plains. Admission is free, show closes at sunset.

There are right turns. And wrong turns. And then there is an entirely different kind of turn that is neither right nor wrong--just lucky and unforgettable. You won't find them on any sort of map. Indeed, you don't really find them at all.

They find you. And when they do ... follow along.

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June 2007