Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life is a highway, Part Deux

Back in March I was traveling more frequently for work. Work travel is typically not glamorous travel and I was tempted to simply skip my next work trip and head off into the sunset or South Dakota. Apparently, I'm not alone in this desire but I'm also not alone in the fact that no one actually does this. Sad for us all.

Anyway, I just spent 10 days in Arlington starting the transition to my view position at work. I don't officially start in this role until August 1 and I'm still away from my actual move but this trip was a natural step in moving into this new role. This trip also meant that I got to spend an inordinate amount of time in traffic.

DC Metro area traffic is terrible. So terrible that it's terribleness is a cliche and complaining about it's terribleness is even more of a cliche. I won't waste valuable time talking about my anger or frustration during the last 10 days. You get it, I get it. Spending days in traffic made me think of two of my favorite parts of a road trip:
  1. Planning routes
  2. Wasting time
Planning a road trip, regardless of length, takes planning. I know everyone has this romantic notion of just jumping in your car and driving somewhere but that kind of road trip doesn't happen all that often. Sometimes that kind of road trip works out for all involved. Sometimes everyone gets killed by an axe murderer. You just don't know and why risk an axe murderer?

Anyway, planning road trips is fun. The rise in popularity of GPS has meant a decline in actual map usage. This saddens me as much as the fact that no one writes letters anymore. Maps are interesting and fun and controversial. They're a different way of communicating and it's possible that there are people out there who don't know how to read a map. I think you can tell a lot from the lines and boundaries on a map - sad stories of stolen land, brave stories of pioneers (which normally coincide with stolen land), hopeful stories of rebuilding. Maps are both functional and artistic.

I like the ways that roads connect to one another. The ways in which a person can go from Point A to Point B are usually so numerous it's hard to make a choice. I was reminded of this when I drove back to the airport yesterday. Normally, I'd take 95N to start this trip off but there was massive construction on 95N this weekend (shocking I know) so my dad suggested I go around it. I ended up going through Alexandria so my route looked like this:

Route 1 N  to 395 N to 295 N to Baltimore-Washington Parkway to 195 E to 170 to the rental car return  to BWI

This route took almost 3 hours because of the traffic everywhere but it was a way around what probably would have been a Hulk rage inducing trip on 95N. Hulk smash. Hulk drive into fancy car of driver who just cut me off.

I'm in the final planning stages of my move road trip planning. I know the route and the stops but I need to find the hook - something to keep my brother and I occupied along the way. One of my friends suggested the truck stop tour, which could be both awesome and disgusting. You know I love a theme.

Which brings me to my second favorite thing about road trips: wasting time. Normally when you go on a road trip you have an end destination. You're going from your home to someplace where you'll be on vacation (more than likely) or visit family or friends. The drive might just be a function of  the trip or it's the actual vacation itself. I'd characterize most of my childhood road trips as the former. We were either moving or going to visit family in Detroit so the drive was really just a function of the trip. 

However, my parents are fun and mildly eccentric and they've raised two offbeat (albeit normal) children. We all really enjoy weird things you encounter while driving, whether it be a non-chain hotel with a pink elephant statue in front or an off the beaten path restaurant that was worth the extra two hours even though it did resemble the area where the axe murderer might live. Road trips aren't any fun if you only stick to the safe (and by safe I mean fast food places and Marriotts) and the boring. Wasting time on a road trip isn't really wasting time at all - it's about cultivating your sense of adventure and discovering hidden nuggets of awesome across this vast land we live in.

Unlike real wastes of time, like watching an America's Top Model marathon or the remake of Godzilla, road trip time wasting never makes me feel like I'm being lazy or owed time back. Instead, I crave more of it. I want to find one more roadside attraction to photograph or one more postcard to buy or one more reason to stop for homemade ice cream. I love a roadside stand. Equally as amazing are large signs telling me that the World's Best Peach Pie is up ahead at Doreen's Diner and I have to stop or my life will be empty and meaningless. No one wants that.

I like peach pie and don't want my life to be empty and meaningless so of course I'm going to stop. 


No comments:

Post a Comment