I’ve recently had the opportunity to do a lots of driving (somewhere over three thousand miles all told) and I think I’ve discovered the five universal truths of road trips.
1. Books on MP3 (aka CD/tape) make the trip go faster.
I listen to audiobooks to help my apartment get clean faster but this time I discovered they also seem to make road trips go faster. I seem to prefer light mysteries (I’m listening to the stories of Amelia Peabody right now) because I can move my attention to something else (like the semi up ahead who’s pulled over or the downpour that’s about to happen) without losing too much of the plot line. After sitting in a car for three, eight, or even ten hours straight, it’s nice to listen to someone else’s ‘life.’
2. Walmart is just around the corner.
If Walmart’s goal was to make sure they can be found everywhere, they’ve succeeded. I have now been to Walmarts in Arizona, Texas, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Utah, and Ohio. I realize that I probably look for a Walmart when I’m traveling because it provides familiarity and I know what kind of things they sell. But it sure is nice to be able to find one when I need one.
3. You can never bring too many Cheetos.
Cheetos are the life blood of any road trip. They may turn your fingers orange but I guarantee they’ll bring a smile to anyone’s face. Make sure you have the hard kind for people who like the hard kind and the soft kind for people doing orthodontia (me). I also find that something liquid and napkins are also essentials when consuming a bag of Cheetos on the road.
4. Exhaustion is just a state of mind
There’s something about road trips that makes me extremely tired and very hyper. Something about being cooped up in such a small space for such a long period of time brings the loopiness out in me. When I’m not listening to audio books or trying to make sure I don’t crash in downpour rainstorms (which there seemed to be a lot of), I find myself cracking (and laughing at) really really really stupid jokes. I do find that my ‘hyper’ exhaustion seems to increase in direct proportion to whether or not someone else is in the car.
5. There’s always road construction
I have never seen so many orange cones in such a short period of time. It seems that every freeway is in process of being rebuilt. Many of these freeways are two lanes each way so when one side gets closed down, everyone gets shifted to the other side and into one lane. This really isn’t too bad, until I would realize that the car in front of me is really a semi and the car behind me is really a semi and I’m about to drive into a torrential downpour. Then I kind of wished I could get in front of or behind one of the semis and away from the water they kick up. I guess road construction is a good thing as it means roads stay in fairly good shape. But it sure means that I’m not gonna make it to my destination by the time the GPS claims I’ll arrive. I did discover that driving on the weekends means that even though the cones are on the road, the workers are not. This means not quite so much stop/slow down time.
Bonus: America really is beautiful.
I think that sometimes because I live in a city and see the same things day after day, I forget to really appreciate how beautiful America can be. In this trip alone, I’ve imprinted incredibly beautiful pictures in my mind. I can see these beautiful green rolling hills rushing to meet blue and green mountains. Or blue sky overhead peeking through masses of fluffy clouds. I can see misty clouds riding low over massive trees on the banks of a broad river. Or miles of earthy brown furrows weighed down by the rain heavy cloudes above. I can see copper red cliffs almost hanging over the snaking road with hints of green trees scrabbling to hang on to clefts in the cliffs. It’s absolutely breathtaking.
So, for those of you who have taken road trips, what universal truths have you learned?