I’ve taken a lot of road trips over the course of my life. Some of them turned out to be disastrous, some were amazing, others were hardly noteworthy, but there’s one thing you of which can be assured with a road trip – at the very least, it will be interesting.
Road trips get you out of your routine. They pry you loose from your daily life to experience new things, new people and a tired butt. You have no choice but to try places you’ve never been. You are a pioneer, discovering the best places to run in just to pee and where not to eat. I adore road trips.
When I was a kid, my family had an RV in which we’d take off for weeks at a time. I’d been to every single state in the continental United States before I even hit double digits. I lost my favorite doll at one of the campsites and cried for days. I drove over mountain passes and vast plains. I still have some souvenirs from those childhood jaunts along with precious few memories.
Towards the end of my last year of high school, my two best friends and I ditched school, got in the car to go to my friend’s house and just kept going. Our impromptu road trip lasted for five days. We drove all the way up to Copper Harbor, the very northernmost tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, jutting out into Lake Superior. I had lived in Michigan my whole life and had never been the Upper Peninsula before. We came down around Lake Michigan through Wisconsin into Illinois and spent a few days in Chicago. It was our final fling as high school friends. After we graduated, we hardly saw each other again.
Once, I was driving through eastern Canada late at night. I turned to my friend and said, when are going to stop going uphill? He panicked and told me to pull over right then since that section of eastern Canada is as flat as a board. I had been driving so long that I thought we were scaling the imaginary hills of Canada. I spent the night sleeping in the car along the freeway, nestled between miles (or kilometers) of semi trucks who had the same idea. It’s a strange, but common practice there.
Another time near Toronto, I had to take a detour of many miles because the friend I was with was scared of going over open bridges. That was our last road trip together, not because I was annoyed by the bridge phobia, but because that friend, my oldest, died this year.
I called in sick to work and drove from Boston to Pennsylvania with my best friend to go to some crazy event in the woods of western Pennsylvania where we stayed drunk for days and lived in a tent. A few months later, we took another road trip from Boston to Los Angeles in my little car with a huge trailer loaded with all of our belongings where a new life awaited.
I flew from Los Angeles to Boston only to drive to Detroit, and eventually, to New York City touring with my boyfriend’s band. I spent the night in a love motel in Detroit with mirrors on the ceilings and shower nozzles at waist height. I had lived in Detroit most of my life and never knew such a place existed until I moved away. I watched as he ran laps around a public rest stop off of the highway in nowhere America because he had been in the car too long and was slaphappy. I fell in love with him as he scaled a rock at that rest area, raising his arms victoriously like Rocky and singing Eye of the Tiger badly at the top of his lungs, immune to the askance scowls of normal travelers. I peed in a cup (a difficult task for a girl) while stuck in Manhattan traffic. I watched the sun rise in Brooklyn. I drove by ground zero a week after September 11th happened.
Those are just a few of my many automotive adventures, but probably the best road trip I’ve ever taken was all by myself. I bought a brand new car, took a month off of work and just drove. Wherever I felt like going that day was where I went. I ate in a restaurant by myself for the first time. I saw sunrises and sunsets all over the country. I went everywhere from the Atlantic Ocean through the Blue Ridge Mountains over to the Mississippi River and down to the Gulf of Mexico. After three weeks on the road, I decided that I wanted to sleep in my own bed that night. I drove from Atlanta, Georgia to Detroit, Michigan without stopping. Less than ten hours later, I saw the sun come up over downtown Detroit as I pulled up in front of my building. I’ve never slept so well.