Friday, January 6, 2012

Road Trips: Different Perspectives


I have really come to dislike long car rides. I am not talking about the fun road trips that you plan with travel buddy-friends to fun destinations where you make CDs full of invigorating music and you stock up on sugary and savory snacks and caffeine-filled drinks. No, I am talking about the perfunctory car rides of 6+ hours that is the only satisfactory means of arriving somewhere with whomever else needs to go there. 

Perhaps taking the car for many of our trips was the one way my fairly non-traditional American family was traditionally American. We used to take our car up and down the east coast- sometimes all the way down to Florida but frequently up to Montreal, Canada. Either way, we are talking about car trips of over 10 hours.  

Of course when my sister and I were young, we hated car rides for all the reasons young people hate being in the car: you get bored, car sick, restless. You have to pee more than normal. You are not in control of the radio or any other entertainment device (until the technological wonder of that era, a Walkman, was invited!). And worst of all, you had absolutely no say on the timing and number of stops.

You see, everyone endures (and I choose the word "endures" purposefully here) being in the car in a different way. Some people go as fast as they can get away with, max out their bladder and their concentration, in order to get there at the earliest time possible. Some other people set aside a full two days for a trip that can be done in one so that they can stop on the road, spend lunch in little towns, spend a night at an obliging hotel or motel, and generally take their sweet time. 

One great road trip from Rome, Italy to Nice, France with friends
My style of enduring car trips is somewhere in the middle. I have no interest in cutting into my vacation time by prolonging the driving-bit, but I also have no desire to put myself through mental and physical anguish in order to see if I can cut down a 10-hour car ride. My thought is: I'll be in the car all day. Might as well enjoy it.

So car rides/ road trips are best carried out when traveling with like-minded individuals. For me, that is people who would say- "I think Starbucks gingerbread latte is in season now. Let's stop there at the next exit!" or "That's a pretty sunset let's stop to take a picture" or "that is a very odd looking diner, let's eat lunch there." That is my kind of car trip. 

A Road Trip stop at an aforementioned odd diner
en route from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon
Unfortunately, our family car rides to Montreal lack this particular consensus of opinion from all the way back to when I was a whiny, "are we there yet?" child to now an adult who can keep her mouth shut but secretly resents all the passed opportunities to enjoy instead of endure a ten hour car ride. 

In the end, I try to tell myself that car rides, like so many other things, just reflect different approaches to life. Get to your goal as quick as you can or enjoy the ride. I have decided I am the latter.

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