Friday, February 8, 2013

Road Tripping. (Or, just tripping)

For anyone who hasn't driven across the country, the idea sounds so epic and adventurous, right? To a certain extent, yes. I did it once with a good friend when we snuck out of Los Angeles in the wee hours of the morning to drive back to Massachusetts. But I was only 22 and everything was fun back then. (Even driving through Kansas at night and inhaling cow manure the entire time. No, wait. That wasn't fun either).

Flash forward to January 2013. A cross-country trip back to California. Another adventure. Will it still be just as fun?

1. Everything is enjoyable for the first 20 minutes.
The car is packed, good-byes are said and then *poof*....nothing but open road. Oh, and screaming cats. Seriously. 

Yes, they're in a doggie crate. It was huge, but they chose to smush 
themselves in the corner closest to me.

For the record, Brady meowed from Rhode Island to Ohio. No joke. 

2. Once you get past Chicago, don't expect to see ANYTHING of interest.
Aside from experiencing the enigma that is "lake effect snow," driving west through the Northeast is enjoyable. There are mountains, cities, lots of rest areas, etc. You know, civilization. Once you leave Chicago, everything disappears. That includes Dunkin Donuts. (What I wouldn't give for a French Vanilla Iced Coffee...) Be prepared for flat land, straight roads and hours upon hours of nothing.

The bear was bored, too

3. Driving through time zones is a torturous, slow form of jet-lag.
Your body will be extremely confused, slightly angry and definitely cursing your very existence. The Central time zone isn't that bad, it's the Mountain one that starts to wreak havoc. 

Chasing the sun. Why can't I catch you?!?!?

4. Living in hotels with cats.
This needs its own blog. Between the two of us struggling to get the travel cage out of the car without it opening and unleashing the furry beasts to pushing it through the lobby on a luggage-transport-thingy as quickly as possible because Brady is screaming bloody murder, traveling with pets is a special type of insanity. 

5. Keeping up appearances
Highway travel should have its own reality show. Dazed travelers! Tired truck drivers! Generic service areas! Filthy cars! It's almost, *almost* like The Walking Dead, without the flesh eating zombies.

Don't look directly at the filthy beast

6. Other-worldly scenery
Parts of Utah were covered in so much snow and ice, I thought I was approaching The Wall in Game of Thrones.


7. It gets better....
If you survive driving through the "fly-over states" you'll be rewarded. Just when you've reached the edge of sanity and can't bring yourself to look at another farm or cow or amber wave of grain, you see it looming the distance. A mountain. A change of scenery. A curve in the road. Is it real? For the sake of cramped leg muscles and stale conversation, it better be.

They do exist!

8. A collective sigh
Civilization. People. Other cars besides massive tractor-trailers. The destination is within reach. At this point in the journey, you're just so happy to almost be done with it that genuine excitement makes an appearance. Translated: GET ME OUT OF THIS CAR!!!!

So close, yet still two hours away.

9. The pay-off
Spending five days trapped in a car with another person does something to the human psyche. It re-balances it. It also makes you want to spend a month in a cabin, alone. Maybe that's just me. In any case, once we reached our final destination, we did the unthinkable. We got back in the car and explored our new home*. It'll do, for now.

DISCLAIMER: I enjoy traveling as much as the next person, probably more. I think everyone should experience what it's like to drive across these United States.  

* I used the word home loosely. San Francisco is not home. Boston is home and I miss it terribly.