Riding Out Of The Box

Riding Out Of The Box


Written By – Layng Martine, Jr.

When my wife Linda was crippled in a car accident years ago, we had to adapt. Quickly. After the shock, the tears, the fear and the steep learning curve subsided, instead of thinking of all the things we could no longer do together…hike, ride bikes, play tennis etc… we began to think of all the things that were still possible for us. Chief among those possibilities were car rides out into the country to towns and villages with cafes, bookstores, local bakeries. We’d park our car and roll around town, get a great look at and feel for another place, a different way of life, often meeting new people and making new friends.

These rides kept us feeling like “part of the world” instead of sidelined and cut off and they injected our days with new ideas, information, excitement.

So, when the Covid lockdown came along we tapped right back into our “adjustment” way of thinking, the one that had served us so well years before. But, unlike our adaptation after the car accident, this time there was no getting out of the car and rolling around to the local charm spots. Now we had to stay in the car. No mixing it up with the populace as we love to do.

We decided to drive to and through the most beautiful places we could find within a few hours of our house and listen to books as we drove…books with appeal for both of us: family stories, love stories, books that often made us stop the narrative and talk about what we’d just heard. One of the most compelling premises we’ve come across lately is in a book called THE HUSBAND’S SECRET. It’s about a couple who’s been married 25-30 years, three great kids, both spouses successful in business, lovely home and place in the community. The husband is off on a business trip. The wife is cleaning the attic. She finds an envelope with “TO BE OPENED ON THE EVENT OF MY DEATH” written in her husband’s handwriting. After brief internal debate, she opens the envelope. In it her husband confesses to the most famous murder in their town, committed when he and the female victim were 17. He has never been a suspect. No one even knew they knew each other.

You can imagine how much conversation that news would inspire.

What do they do?

Discussions like that and others instigated by these books are perfect for a long ride in the country.

Because of where we live, Nashville, TN, many of these rides were up into southern Kentucky where the land and the barns are so beautiful and the way of life so different from that of my 40+ year career as a songwriter. 

Aside from the expanse and beauty of the land, we saw massive John Deere tractors with air-conditioned cabs, sometimes 5 in a row in front of a barn. We saw groups of huge silos clearly costing into the millions. New respect boomed in both of us for the skill required to successfully grow endless acres of corn and grain and soybeans and while managing the economics of machinery and storage facilities costing far into the millions of dollars. 

Here are a few pictures of special sights we’ve seen in southern Kentucky – (Photos taken by Layng). 

Dreamy America

Big Business

Green Ocean of Corn

Each day now we feel a new jolt of excitement about the ride we’ll be taking that day. Instead of feeling all cooped up and isolated in our house we think about a side road we recently saw but haven’t yet taken or we remember a special ice cream shop or BBQ spot from a past ride or what time of day it was when we saw those particularly “amber” waves of grain.

And our locations vary.

A few weeks ago we drove up to Rhode Island where we’ve been coming every summer since 1964.

This morning we had a mini-debate about where today’s ride will be.

A foot-long hotdog window in Mystic, CT with parking lot overlooking the water was one choice. An especially good lobster roll along the coast in Dartmouth, MA was another contender. But today the winner was a slow drive down Bellevue Avenue past the Great Gatsby-era mansions in Newport, RI. One hour away. Extremely beautiful. Very educational…maximum nostalgia.

And 100% free.  

It was wonderful.

And now, as we break out a little white wine for the porch, there’s tomorrow to look forward to.

Someone just told us about a 106 year-old seafood shack in a marsh above Boston.

Layng Martine, Jr. is a songwriter and author who lives in Nashville, TN and Watch Hill, RI. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has written songs for Elvis Presley, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, the Pointer Sisters and many others. He is also the author of “Permission to Fly, A Memoir of Love, Crushing Loss, and Triumph,” which was published in 2019.