I’ve never really been a fan of road trips. Being trapped in a small space with another person amongst discarded banana peels and junk food wrappers for hours upon hours isn’t really my idea of fun. My first big road trip was junior year of college when my boyfriend Bob and I drove from Madison, Wisconsin to NYC. We broke up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on the way home…that’s how good that road trip was. I’ve had various other road trips with boyfriends along the West Coast, and although those trips didn’t result in break-ups, they inevitably involved some crazy claustrophobic arguments and a couple bouts of me being carsick on any windy road we dared to drive.
Yet, there was one road trip that I will forever hold close to my heart. In 1996 my dad and I drove my Saturn across country to move me to Los Angeles. It wasn’t the most comfortable of conditions…my car was packed to the brim leaving my 6′ dad with his knees at his chest for hours at a time. Still, something about that trip was magical. We spent 3 solid days driving, yet didn’t have one argument. We encountered the magnificence of tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes migrating north for the summer along the North Platte River in Nebraska. Our jaws dropped at the majestic beauty of the colorful sandstone peaks in Utah. We were pelted by tumbleweeds and had to pull over because we couldn’t see during blinding sand storms in the Arizona desert. We laughed as we tried to make my car break 25mph as it struggled pulling a 4×8 U-Haul trailer over the Colorado Rockies.
Dad loves road trips and he and my mom take at least one road trip each year. So it’s quite fitting that he’s the one helping me plan possible itineraries for the first leg of my trip. It’s important to me to stay flexible and let the road dictate where I go and what I need to learn, but at the same time I think it’s safer to know my options and have a loose idea of the route I’m taking. At Dad’s suggestion, we both ordered a matching set of maps and tour books from AAA for all the states I may hit on this first part of my journey: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. Once he receives his set we’ll sit on the phone and study the maps together.
I have to admit, I’m actually getting excited for this road trip. As much as I’ve complained about my past road trips, I’ve taken away valuable lessons from each. The lesson from the college road trip is to never break up mid-trip when you still have hours in a car together post break-up. Lessons from my other road trips have been much more special, and include many private memories I’ll forever treasure. I’m hoping this road trip will lead me to my most valuable lessons of all…getting to know myself again, charting my next course in life, and finding inner-peace.