On the Road Again …
I spent the better part of today driving. The day did not start out pretty. I woke up to SNOW (which is never a good sign when you are planning a road trip). And this was the third morning in the row that I got less than six hours of sleep (thank you, early morning seminary). I got back from dropping Spencer off at school and decided I might as well get the car packed and get on the road. But seeing as how I was sleep deprived, I was about as grumpy as a grizzly bear just waking up from winter hibernation. Before long I was yelling at my kids for having the nerve to argue with each other. Lovely way to start the trip.
By the time I hit 1-70 the snow was sticking to the road and I was wondering why I was driving the mini van instead of our nice 4 wheel drive Pathfinder (200K miles isn’t really a big deal, right??) I think I was maybe past Morrison when a car behind me lost control and did a few complete turns. Major flood of adrenaline. I stayed happily in the slow lane, going 40 miles an hour pretty much to Georgetown – where the traffic came to a complete halt. I turned the car off. I texted Tom, I read a book, I chatted with my kids, I worried about what the roads were like further ahead. Finally the traffic started moving (no idea what stopped it in the first place). Fortunately, the weather was marginally better on the other side of the Tunnel and pretty clear by Vail. Still, adding an extra couple of hours of white knuckle driving to my trip is not my idea of fun…
Later on in the trip (the stretch from Grand Junction to just before Salina) the sun came out, the views were beautiful, and the music was inspiring (I always have to have some good tunes and a book on tape when I’m doing the driving). I got to thinking about all the road trips I have taken in my life.
Growing up, if our family wanted to go somewhere, we drove. When we were little (and our family was smaller), my parents would fill the back seat of our little Audi with a crib mattress and we’d roll around in the back (and sleep) and share the space with Mom when she needed to rest. When I was in elementary school we had a little yellow truck with a topper. That was an excellent place to experience a road trip. We graduated to a twin mattress and Dad built some carpet covered benches that ran along the sides of the truck – we wrestled, we sang, we slept. Awesomeness!!
The epitome of car trips was the 3 day marathon we took when I was in high school. We had a big station wagon by now (our family had expanded to five kids). Our parents drove, non-stop, from Maine to Utah. At night we’d lay all the seats down and make a gigantic bed. I don’t know how my parents did it – some of us were babies!!
As an adult car trips feel sort of like comfort food. They bring back good memories for me. When Tom and I were newly married we spent a lot of weekends exploring the back roads of central and southern Utah. We’d happily go driving, preferably on a dirt road where we could put the truck in four wheel drive. It was one of the things we missed most when we moved to Kansas – there just isn’t that much to see in a state that is mostly flat. We compensated by going for rides when there were storms – that was something to see!!
Which brings me to another thing about car trips – I’ve seen a lot of this country out the windows of one car or another. It’s a beautiful country we live in. I know the road from Highlands Ranch, CO to Monroe, UT intimately – particularly beautiful scenes, interesting rock formations, our favorite places to get gas and snacks. When we moved to Kansas I was struck by the way that the land sloped down to the south – earth as far as the eye could see, rolling southward. And how the fields waved in the wind, looking like the ocean. It made me homesick for the beaches of my childhood. When my family lived in Maine, I remember feeling as though we were traveling down tunnels – the trees were so thick and lush. And when Tom and I used to travel to Dallas I was always struck by how the sky felt so low.
It’s not the most glamorous or quick way to get somewhere, but there’s a lot to be said for the road trip. Especially the relief of arriving safely!!