Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the Hope Star-Journal newspaper.

I am not sure what small-town boys dream about these days when they hit that spot in adolescent hormonal unbalance where they yearn for "freedom," but for me it was all about heading out on the open road.

In my childhood I read Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." In my teens I read Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" and J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye." They were all the same basic story about just taking off -- being brave enough to go looking for America.

Since my family considered a trip to Flat Rock a major excursion and a weekend visit with my aunt and uncle in Indianapolis a vacation in an exotic, foreign country, my experiences on the open road were limited.

Still, Twain, Kerouac, Salinger and a long list of other writers allowed me to yearn for "freedom" in a romantic way -- sort of the way a declawed house cat knows birds are outside and watches for them forlornly and hopelessly from the window sill.

That's why while other boys were making big plans to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, and Dairy Queen owners, I always dreamed of being an over-the-road truck driver.

It seemed to me there could be no better life-calling than the call of the open road; fast-moving 18-wheelers; towns appearing in my windshield and disappearing in those big rear-view mirrors with decals shaped like strippers; truck-stop waitresses smiling seductively as they set down the eggs, grits and a cup of "hot Joe" in front of me; "Eight Days on the Road" blasting out of my 8-track tape player.

Unfortunately, my dad's dream for me was the college education he always wished he'd had. And even though he had passed away by the time I graduated from high school, he won. Truck driving -- for better or worse -- would never be an option.

I nostalgically thought about this yearning -- and how different my life might have been -- while on a 5,000-mile, 3-week road trip to California in March with my wife Ann. We were somewhere in the New Mexico desert, passing an 18-wheeler in a driving rain when I saw a sign on the back of the trailer that said "We hire driver teams. Call us today."

Maybe it is never too late to do what God intended me to do, I thought. I am retired. Maybe this is a sign from the Almighty that I am being given a chance to recapture that childhood dream -- and even bring my wife of 41 years along with me for the adventure. (Of course, I realized the smiling truck-stop waitress thing and the decals on the mirrors would have to be sacrificed.)

So, I pointed to the sign and read it to her as we passed the truck.

"Why don't we become a truck-driving team?" I asked her. "We could make a lot of money. We could drive in shifts, sleep in the back of the cab and be out on the open road -- having adventures all the time."

She looked over at me blankly for what seemed like about 20 miles -- the way she did years ago when I wanted to raise earthworms in our basement. Finally she shook her head and broke the silence.

"That would indeed be an adventure," she said. "You are unable to sleep whenever I drive. And the only time I CAN sleep is while I am driving."

We didn't talk about the idea for the rest of the trip, but I assume her answer was "no."

That's the problem with adolescent dreams. Someone is always there to stomp on them, even when you receive a clear sign from God on the back of a truck way out in the desert.