Driving Disappointment


Everybody loves road trips except non-Americans and people who get car sick. I guess trains and buses are more of a big deal in other countries and nothing is fun about being sick in a car. BUT for the rest of us, road trips are always calling our names (like “Fred!” or “Rebecca Jean!” for example).

Well here’s the thing: road trips are fun until you’re on them.

In your mind, you picture a road trip: driving on the open road in a classic car, listening to music and laughing with your partners in crime, driving through godly mountains and sprawling deserts, stopping along the way for spontaneous off-the-beaten-path adventures.

In reality, road trips are more like this: sitting in a hot car with the windows down and the wind thrashing your hair all over your face because you don’t have A/C, yawning every ten minutes and listening to the same music for hours until you’re sick of noise, staring at the same dull stretch of freeway and bland landscape, stopping only for McDonald’s and bathroom breaks because you just want to get where you’re going already.

For example, I traveled to California earlier this summer (thankfully, by airplane), but after we landed, we did a fair amount of driving around between destinations we had. My expectation was that it would be breathtaking to see the land out west and we could stop at all these little local joints that embodied the culture of California and see all these exciting attractions. What it ended up being was one single stretch of freeway through a sea of desert and absolutely nothing but dirt between our starting and ending point. And when there was civilization, it was a pathetic grouping of shacks. I also had my MP3 player playing, but I wasn’t in the mood for any of the songs on it and I brought a book but I was too sleepy to read. So the drive was fairly dull, and I kept yawning, and there was nowhere to stop if you needed gas or sustenance or excitement or a leak (or more). (Don’t get me wrong, I loved the trip and wouldn’t change anything, but the driving aspect was a little “dry.”) But that’s a classic example of a road trip falling short of the bar.

Plus, your butt gets sore and your lower back goes numb and before long, you never want to sit again. (That is until you do a little walking and then you never want to walk again.) So that when the road trip is over, and your mom asks you to go pick up milk, you break down and cry, “PLEAAASE! DON’T MAKE ME GET BACK IN THAT MACHINEEE” and then she yells at you to quit being so dramatic and let go of her leg.

Another annoying part of road trips is packing/unpacking. You always seem to over-pack and, to be fair, in the moment, it seems totally warranted that you’re bringing so much (you know, just in case), but once you’re on the trip, you start to feel kind of silly for bringing your chain saw. But hey, you didn’t know that you wouldn’t need it! Anything can happen… Which is also why you brought the entire series of Friends on DVD… in case of emergency (despite the fact that your car does not have a DVD player). And in actuality you only end up using two of the fifty-eight things you bring. Which means when you get home, you have to put all your crap back where it belongs. Something about putting your stuff back after a trip always feels too cumbersome. You can drive for eighteen hours straight, but taking 20 minutes to unpack your clothes is just TOO MUCH.

Of course, next month, your college buddy will offer a road trip excursion, and you’ll perk up and tell him you’re all in, you love road trips, they’re so fun and spontaneous, completely neglecting the ridiculously boring aspect of road trips, which is the driving part. If the driving part wasn’t involved in road trips, they would probably be better. So basically, fly. If you have the option, fly (via airplane, not Red Bull).

Even though road trips aren’t as glorious as we expect them to be, they’re still mostly enjoyable. I guess it’s like pregnancy– you don’t remember how un-fun it is until you’re in the middle of it.


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