Road trips are good for the soul, I've decided.

They're best in the warmer seasons when you can drive the backroads with windows rolled down, gawking at whatever there is to see.

Road trips are good for the soul, I’ve decided.

They’re best in the warmer seasons when you can drive the backroads with windows rolled down, gawking at whatever there is to see. The warm, fresh breeze blowing in your face. Much like your dog with his or her jowls blowing in the wind.

I get it now.

I took a personal day recently to drive to Tarkio, Mo., in the northwest part of the state. It was actually cheaper to drive the 280 miles (560 RT) than to have an attorney mail us a hard-bound book containing pages and pages of legalese involving my dad’s house and commercial property in Iowa.

Besides, it was a chance to sneak away for a day and traipse a part of my old stomping grounds from my early days at Tarkio College.

I had not been to Tarkio but once or twice since transferring from the college in 1970 to the University of Missouri to finish out my college education.

Tarkio College was a four-year, Presbyterian-sponsored college that was a melting pot for students and athletes who wanted ease into college life; or for those of us who couldn’t make the grade someplace else.

I and three other Iowa boys roomed together in a newer complex called the Ponderosa. It was at the north end of the campus, and at the time seemed such a challenging distance from the heart of the college. In reality, the dorms were about two blocks from the administration building where most of the classes were held.

One of my roommates, Jerry, was a high school classmate who went on to become an attorney in Omaha and to do well enough in the stock market he retired in his 50s. Another of us, Mike, was from the Sidney, Iowa, and only 10 miles from my high school in Hamburg. He went on to become a minister. The other of us, Lou, was from Farragut, another very small southwest Iowa town that was of the same athletic and academic conference as the rest of us. He became a successful financial advisor in Omaha.

Four young men from four small communities not 20 minutes apart. Every opportunity to jump onto the world’s stage of education, and we end up an hour from our hometown high schools.

Several years after I left Tarkio, the college closed its doors for financial reasons. It evolved into an “academy” for troubled youth, but that eventually closed up shop. Now, the buildings are abandoned.

I drove to the Ponderosa for nostalgia, and was struck by the condition of the buildings. Not only are they empty with broken windows, but saplings and various other shrubs had been allowed to grow between and through the sidewalks. It was a jungle.

Nary a sign of bustling young men and women on the cusp of their lives, seeking an education to unlock the doors of their future. The door to our particular room was scratched with graffiti. The base of the door was rusting.

The pride and joy of my education, however, is the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. Although I haven’t confirmed it, I’ve heard twice that the Missouri J-School edged out Northwestern for the best journalism school in the world.

Tarkio helped me adjust to a higher level of education discipline, but MU was the polish.

Northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa are truly my old stomping grounds. I spent the first 50 years of my life driving the roads, exploring the backcountry, covering meetings here and there, taking pictures at this sporting event and that.

And meeting the people.

So, it was the best of times while at Tarkio where I made a lot of great friends. My trip was nostalgic. We should never forget our roots, because our roots made us what we are today.