Other than the very first significant trip I went on when I was ten I mentioned here, the only other travel experiences I had as a young person (i.e. before I became a parent and a wife and a full-time grown up) were when I was in college.
I was dating (and ultimately got engaged to) this guy I knew in high school. One of his parents was born in the very middle of the US, and the other parent clearly longed to be able to say the same. Every summer, they’d take these long road trips across the country, invariably ending up in Middle America to visit the elderly aunts and distant cousins for a few days before fleeing back to the Pacific. One year, the trip involved driving all the way to Branson, Missouri (BEFORE it was a major tourist destination, BTW), another trekked to Vegas, the Tetons, Yellowstone and the Black Hills.
During those extended drives, I learned the joys of the American road trip.
I sat in the backseat and stared out the windows, mesmerized by the changing landscape outside as we made our way across southern New Mexico (awful) or central Arkansas (actually really pretty). I noticed differences in the various regional versions of my mother tongue, hearing drawls and twangs that were as alien to me as pig farms and truck stops. It was a slow moving kaleidoscope of Americana that was alien enough to hold my attention, but familiar enough to be relatively unintimidating.
I learned about roadside attractions…The Thing and Wall Drug, for example….and what a business loop off an interstate highway was (it’s a road, usually a big thoroughfare, that is listed as an alternate to the interstate with the same number that leads through the outer business district of a town or city, giving travelers easy access to hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and the local big box store).
Since those epic journeys, I’ve only done two significant road trips…and neither of them was for fun. The first, twenty years ago-ish, was when I left my homeland behind and did a solo move 900 miles away. And the second, almost ten years ago, was when I left the entire West Coast behind and moved to flyover country 2300 miles away. Neither was really about travel as much as about relocation, and both were fairly unpleasant.
I really want to do another road trip. They’re just SO time consuming.
And time is NOT something I have a lot of working as a cube jockey in corporate America, you know?
But I’d really like to visit Salvation Mountain someday. That’s high on my road trip list for sure!
Hink is an aspiring traveler plotting global domination and looking for the funny.
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