“For the next few months, we’ll be sleeping in strange beds,” Irwin remarked as we started our drive cross-country. My private reaction, left unsaid, was “So what?” I realized though that he’s more a homing pigeon than me and the impending vagabond lifestyle is way out of the comfort level of this guy whose training revolved around schedules and structures. But now, almost a month after we started, he has taken to the uncertainties of the immediate future as much as I have. It helps that he’s done several road trips already – but shorter ones than this grand one that will keep us moving for months. We have now agreed on a changed concept of home: Home is no longer an address or a static structure; it’s where we are, together. We are each other’s home.
I love being on the road – the new discoveries each day brings, the differing landscapes of each state, our conversations that keep us engaged (which we wouldn’t have had the time and space to have back home) as we drive our 350 miles/day limit. Most of all I love not having to do housework.
The soundtrack of our road trip comes from the almost a thousand songs of the ‘60s compiled in 32 CDs by my cousin Dave. Perfect for singing-along to ward off sleepiness, perfect for remembering the road trip books and movies that captured the attention of the ‘60s generation. Our personal theme song for this adventure: “Two for the Road,” which we ritually play as we begin another day on the road.
Going back to conversations, the most important ingredient to a memorable road trip is that you have to do it with someone or with people whose company you genuinely enjoy. Conversations in enclosed small spaces (like a vehicle) can take unexpected twists. Being together 24/7 can be a challenge. We have found out more about each other’s private thoughts these past weeks that we’ve had in the years we’ve been together. More importantly, we’ve learned to anticipate each other’s moods (him more than me since I’m the more moody one) and temper our reactions accordingly.
Things we can’t live without, road trip or not: sunglasses, our personal pillows, smart phones, cameras, makeup and facial lotions (me), golf (him), exercise, bottled water, comfort sandals with the proper bounce, our medications, books (especially books) and ice cream.
Chasing the sunrise has become an almost-ritual for us. In Jackson, Wyoming where we were surrounded by mountains, we had to drive around for 15 minutes to get the best view. In some places, all we had to do was look out our window. However we do it, watching the sunrise together is an invigorating beginning to a new day and a new adventure.
A necessary ingredient of a road trip: taking a break from the road to relax, resuscitate and rehabilitate. We took a two-week break at the home of our close friends and it was all we needed to energize for the next legs of our trip.
Scribbled on a rest room wall somewhere in Route 66: “Those who do not travel know only one page.”
Speed limits in freeways and highways change quite quickly and randomly. You may be running 70 mph one minute and in the next you have to slow down to 45 mph. Must be an alertness test. In California, people drive 80 mph on 65 mph zones. In Iowa and South Dakota, 80 mph is the speed limit. I discovered that I’m not comfortable at 80 mph even if I often do it in the Bay Area.
Another best thing about a road trip: meeting up and spending time with friends in various places. Even if we’re in constant touch in social media, nothing beats being able to connect, warm body to warm body.