I've been road tripping, and remembering how I love these long, long stretches of driving time.
I know, right?
Home to college was a 2000 mile trek, and I had it all planned out. Get up early on day 1 so I could end the day just over the Texas border, in Las Cruces, NM. I had a favorite truck stop there. I loved having a favorite truck stop in Las Cruces. Day 2 meant a few brief hours watching the changing landscape and skyscape of the New Mexican desert. When I was lucky (so: if it was summer), there would be lightning storms traveling long distances as I watched. Day 2 ended somewhere in Arizona, and I had to get up early enough to skirt most of LA before traffic there got bad. The rest of Day 3 was several hours on I-5, past farms and more farms and stockyards and farms, then a quick jig over towards the coast and campus.
This trip began with those I-5 hours, and it was very much a "the more things change" situation. The billboards about water rights were focused on almonds instead of grapes, all these years later, but the streams of trucks in the right lanes, hopscotching cars in the left lanes, were just the same. I was as tickled now by the signs showing almost equal mileage to San Francisco and Sacramento as I was back then.
We had audiobooks and podcasts and music to stream on our phones instead of my collection of mix tapes (thanks, all you ex-boyfriends for the mix tapes!). We had GPS instead of AAA maps. We had a hybrid so our stops were dictated by human more often than automotive needs. But we had "road buddies" - those cars you're always passing or who are always passing you, depending on who stopped for how long. We had the sun slanting in at bad angles through the windshield. We had drive-throughs and tailgaters and speed traps and the road. The long, unfurling road, and the way time stretches into a matter of miles rather than minutes. A pit stop in 36 miles. Gas in 80. 216 more before we stop for the night, and 700 to go when we arise the next day.
i told my son, as we rolled north on 5, about my interstate college commutes, but my love of the road trip began much earlier. When we were young, my parents would load the 4 of us kids and a cooler of peanut butter and grape jam into the station wagon or Suburban and head out for a few summer weeks. The big trips were all around the eastern states one year, then the western states two summers later. We saw so many Capitol Buildings and monuments and Holiday Inns. I cried at mountains (still not great with heights, though I admire them from afar.) I gaped at redwoods. I won my share of games of Murder in the Dark, and "guess when we've gone a mile" and the License Plate game. (I know now it was my share. Back then I thought 1/2 was reasonable, not 1/4.) Mom took the whole time off to drive us, but Dad returned to Houston to work for part of these trips. You better believe she fielded a high number of "it's just you and these four kids for HOW LONG?" comments.
So when I set out to drive a few hundred or a couple thousand miles, I'm undaunted. I grew up with a great road map.
Mom: better than AAA and GPS combined.
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