HTT: How To Roadtrip

I really wanna say that the road trip is a uniquely American venture. But that would probably be ignoring about 2.6 million years of migration. Although, to be fair, migration is usually with the intent on never going home, whereas the road trip is almost 50% return.

It would also be ignoring the 18th and 19th century western expansions, but again, return was unlikely.

No, so when I'm talking about road trip, I mean putting full luggage in the back of the car, buckling up the children, filling up the gas tank, and heading for something that's too far to get to in less than a day . . . maybe two.

We didn't take a lot of serious road trips when I was a kid.

Once or twice I went with my Dad while he was touring. That was a blast.

And throughout the spring and summer and fall, my mom would throw us into the pick-up truck or whatever, and with a Coleman stove, a pup-tent and bag of marshmallows, and we would spend the weekends out in the wilderness. And until I discovered sex, drugs and sriracha mayo, I didn't think life could get any better.

As soon as I had a set of keys and a day or two of freedom, I was gone.

I remember vividly every road trip I had ever undertaken.

The nights out on Lake Berryessa with Sean and whoever could come along, where we slept head to toe in the back of my Volkswagen van and told each other Zodiac Killer stories.

The trip to Santa Barbara with Deb in my brother's '64 Comet where we stopped at the general store in San Gregorio and I bought a hat.

The winding Pacific Coast Highway going north from Oxnard where Jon and I spoke in iambic pentameter all afternoon, and I discovered that he couldn't drive a stick shift so I was stuck behind the wheel for nine hours of winding coastal road.

A similar trip coming down the grapevine in a Toyota Corolla and saying to Natalie "Um, hey, did you know that you're going 96 miles per hour? . . . Yeah . . . maybe you oughtta let me drive for a bit."

The long lonely trip to Nevada to see about a girl.

The long lonely trip back home.

The best road trips were in the summer of 2003, Joann and I had just gotten married and we were looking for a place to live in Los Angeles, I was gonna be a songwriter, she was gonna be an actress. We'd gather up in the Echo with a snack bag full of Cokes and Triscuits and Easy Cheese and she would spray the gooey stuff on the crackers and hand feed me so I didn't have to take my eyes off the road. We stayed with friends and family or sometimes really really trashy motels just off the Sunset Strip. We never found a place to live.

Which in hindsight, was probably God watching out for us.

Anyway, so in prepping for another road trip, I thought today's "How To Tuesday" I'd spend sometime pointing out the differences and similarities from the classic days of yore to the now.

First things First: No Kids
My son is actually pretty good on road trips. We've taken him to LA a couple of times for Disneyland and he could practically navigate the trip to Grandpa's house by himself. But a five day excursion might be thoroughly testing the limits of how long any of us could go together without wifi.

Second things Second: Saving up your Podcasts.
Gone is the era of being subjected to the limitations of the local radio. In my youth-day, it was all about the mix-tape (man . . . creating the mix tape was like three days worth of excitement.), but you know . . . we're kind of older now . . . and that doesn't mean we don't like music . . . it's just that the stereos in our cars are kinda crappy.  And then there was the era of the Book on Tape (the staple of the 2003 adventures), but there really is only so much Patricia Cornwell one could listen to without knowing in advance who the killer is. So now it's free podcasts of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" Fresh Air" and "This American Life"

But you need about twenty of them, and they only come out once a week, so you kinda gotta store up.

Third things Third: The packing gap.
In almost all areas of life, my wife and I have grown together. We watch the same shows, listen to the same music, found a nice meeting place where our domestic strengths and parenting skills compliment one another . . . but never has there been a greater divide in an approach to life than how we like to pack.

When she thinks of going anywhere, it's of the utmost important to consider every possible emergency and to be prepared for it, while I . . . well I like to figure out how I can get away with carrying the least.

There's no right or wrong. It's about comfort and peace of mind. And since we own an SUV, there is no theoretical harm in packing half the closet.

In fact, the only thing that I take umbrage with is that she still likes to ask my opinion about what to bring.

My opinion is important to her . . . as hers is to me.

But the conversation will go like this:

Should I take the high heels?

No . . . we're going to be doing a lot of walking.

What if we go some place nice?

We aren't going to someplace nice.

What if we do?

I doubt "Sizzle Pizza" is going to concern themselves with your footwear.

But just incase, it's not like we don't have the room in the car.

You're absolutely right, put 'em in the bag.

Now, that doesn't seem like much of a problem, but we'll have twenty identical conversations about jackets, pants, socks, umbrellas, toiletries, and food items. And it is always exactly the same.

I'm an ass and I say no, or don't bother, or whatever.

And she doesn't think I'm taking her seriously and argues for yes.

I try to convince her now . . . because I want to win the moral high ground.

Which is stupid.

I will never win the moral high ground.

And she mirrors my lais-sez-faire attitude and reminds me that it doesn't matter.

Yet another reason why we don't bring the children. Try packing for a nine-years old with this method.

Anyway, as you get older, you start to realize the gravity of what you are planning, the bags upon bags of stuff. The hours on the road, the back stiffness alone. The searching for the next place to get some gas or find a double cheese burger. The feeling in your body when those double cheese burgers start to back up because you haven't been to the toilet in three days.

Then you think, road trip might be a bad idea. You're getting older just thinking about it.

Fourth: Consider the Train
I really really really, wanna do a train trip someday. But . . . unfortunately . . . I live in the land of the road trip and the train lines, while still romantic, don't have quite the flexibility I'm looking for.

And it's expensive.

I might do it some day . . . but not this time.

Fifth: Consider Flying.
Flexible, relatively cheap, turns a five day trip into a three day trip, the Sacramento airport is easily the easiest and best airport to fly in and out of (Unless you're looking for public transportation, and, well, why would you?)

Yeah. I'm thinking we're gonna fly.

Only problem.


Effing Packing.

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