The Lure of the Open Road

Ann Kendall avatar

by Ann Kendall |

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A River Runs Through It” is one of my favorite movies, but calling it that doesn’t conjure up just how deeply I feel about it. This movie is more than a favorite — it is like a cherished dream.

With Robert Redford’s voice richly narrating the story of Norman Maclean’s Montana, this film is a sumptuous journey into the vastness that is Montana. It combines sweeping visuals of Big Sky Country, from the lushness of the river valley to the sweeping plains — and Brad Pitt.

In my life, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Montana countless times, including during youthful road trips, a two-day, speed-charged march across the country with my brother one Memorial Day weekend, and an agonizing cross-country trek with my husband after suffering a miscarriage while on vacation in Seattle.

Regardless of the reason for the trip, whenever I pass into Montana – whether from the flat of North Dakota or the mountainous climb out of Idaho – I am reminded of why the state’s Big Sky moniker is so apt. In crossing those geographical boundaries, the immediate sight is a snaking highway ahead and pillowy cumulus clouds above.

Just as Redford’s voice effortlessly pulls me into the lives of the Maclean brothers each time I watch the movie, driving on Interstate 90 at 70 mph offers the same tug to explore. With its wide prairies, Montana is a cradle that provides both comfort and escape.

During this past month of stay-at-home orders, when I wasn’t frantically reading student papers or taking care of family matters, Redford’s voice was in my head a lot. I want flight from the confines of our small abode. I want to see my people scattered around the country. I want freedom. I want to randomly go to Target without masking up to breathe the smells of cleaning supplies, popcorn, and housewares.

Opportunity often is found in crisis, something that has taken me a month to figure out. With events canceled or postponed, classrooms shuttered, and life generally upended, it is time to find new ways onto the open road.

What if during this time we were able to connect more fully with our bleeding disorders community across our usual boundaries? What if we bring back some forgotten ways of connecting? How can we meet new people and bring them into our fold while we are physically separated? How do we make sure none in our midst are forgotten and left behind?

The virtual road trip is the answer: by reaching out to those in other chapters and states. This can range from setting up intra-chapter exchanges with phone calls and pen pals to undertaking a project together to help create and take charge of our new world as it evolves.

We are in the climb, embracing the allure of a new frontier that we can’t make sense of yet. We will see open prairie again, but it will be different than before.

April 17 is World Hemophilia Day, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. Take one step with me today on a virtual road trip across our hemophilia map. If you have a red lightbulb, put it in your window Friday evening. Wear red throughout the day, or one of the many T-shirts we all have from bleeding disorders events. Put a sign in your window letting others know that celebrations continue regardless of the excruciating stress of pandemic life.

Let’s connect our dots and find our open road together.


Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


Matthew Lafleur avatar

Matthew Lafleur

Ann, what an incredible post. You make my adventure-longing heart sing.

Ann Kendall avatar

Ann Kendall

Thank you Matt! The road calls to us all.


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