THIS I BELIEVE
I believe in road trips.
Now that we can travel virtually anywhere on the web – and a gallon of gas costs as much as a whole tank used to – it’s easy to let our fingers do the walking and make all of our trips virtually.
But we need to hit the highway.
After too long at home, I become restless, irritable – I’m sure my kids would say I become cranky. I get rootbound. I need to take to the road, blow the carbon out.
Road trips are about both the journey and the destination. I love to get an early start (Clichés like “early start’ are road-trip approprate) and make good time (another appropriate cliché).
Driving provides a type of contemplative time I don’t experience anywhere else. While you obviously have to pay a modicum of attention to fellow drivers and road signs, you are also somewhat suspended between Here and There. You can reflect on your life, what has led you to this point. I often recall a trip from Flagstaff to Tucson, the morning after I fell in love with the man who is now my husband. I was dazed: all I wanted to do was run the old Craycroft Road route with my dad. I got in the car at 6:30 a.m, without calling to see if he would be home – I didn’t know if I’d go the whole way. But when I pulled into my folks’ driveway, he was carrying letters out to the mailbox. He saw me, threw the envelopes in the air, and gave me a hug, saying, “My friend is back!” I smile every time I experience it.
Driving, I think of how our lives are connected by freeways and telephone wires – ribbons of asphalt and cable. ( Although the wireless thing takes a little of the romance out of that concept…)
A road trip gives me time to be out of the troughs I wear footprints in, moving from blow dryer to washer to garage. Travel is broadening because we are new to where we are, even if we’ve been there before. Today the light is from the north instead of the south, with different people on the road.
Every Monday morning for a few years I drove from Phoenix to Flagstaff. I stopped at the Camp Verde Texaco for a half a cup of coffee. The man behind the counter always teasingly suggested a doughnut I always refused. We were strangers with a tradition. One day the man in front of me in line bought gas with a credit card, turned out to be “Joe Runster?” or whatever his unusual name was. Both men had left the same small town in Michigan more than 40 years before, and not met since. I was delighted all day.
Driving around your state, you will get a kick out of things, like a humble diner with a marque saying, “Where the stars go to eat!” Or you will see a personalized plate that puzzles you until it makes you smile. Getting away from the routine helps me appreciate it. And dream. And remember. And always, savor and be grateful.
I believe in road trips.
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