It was a game time decision. She decided to drive the first leg of the ride. We were headed up north. Conditions were expected to be clear if not partly sunny. It’s Christmas time so we tended to be optimists about the weather. While everyone appreciates a little snow at the holidays, driving in it is garbage.
Fresh out of Louisville the speed limits varied from 55 to 70 to 65 back to 55 and then up to 70 again. I was glad she was driving. It always freed my mind and allowed me to relax. I could easily doze when she was the wheel man.
She had the lead foot gene. She was a good driver. Don’t get me wrong. She was able to make time like no one else I’d ever met. While other people could compete with her flair and alacrity behind the wheel, I made a mental note early on that I did not find myself looking out the side windows as much. It was either eyes straight ahead or they were closed as I found myself dozing more often than not.
“Look out the side window so you’ll never see what hits you!” I’d counsel friends who complained of going on trips with drivers they found a bit reckless or less than safe. Worrying about stuff like that is the thing. When you are on a road trip it’s always time to enjoy the journey. I tell you I’d enjoy this journey a lot more provided my space bar key wasn’t acting up.
Drivin’ for Jesus, drivin’ for Jesus,
Makin’ allll the lights
So goes that part of the George Carlin skit off of one of his albums. I don’t think you can drive for Jesus, though; you’re driving for yourself and your passengers. As they say, Jesus probably has other things to do, never mind making sure you don’t get stuck at too many red lights.
That is the beauty of our Interstate system in this country. There are no lights, yet if there is an accident or some kind of back up, things get congested, and we begin to wonder why teleportation isn’t ready for prime time yet.
Driving in the winter you feel the deadness of things. Only the pine trees reflect life with the rest bereft of their leaves, looking naked in the elements. Winter, while one of the most complained about seasons because of the snow and cold, has the most silent beauty of any season in my opinion. Just go out under a full moon sky during the heart of the winter if you don’t think so; if snow is blanketing the ground, even better. The natural light never ceases to make me feel new again—lighting up the sky, snow on the ground, and my eyes—to anyone who’s looking at them.
People write and sing about the rhythm of the road. What do you prefer when it comes to being inside a vehicle? Do you like the feel of the heater’s warm air during winter, the cool air being delivered by the A/C system during summer or the windows open, air streaming in during fall and spring? Spring is out as far as I’m concerned as that’s when my allergies are acting up and sneezing repeatedly ruins the whole romance of the open road thing.
While fall is my favorite overall season, it is not conducive to listening to music in the car as I like the windows open and unless you blast it, you can’t hear it. So, winter warm internal air and my thoughts and music are best for road trips and creative living for the win over the Freon-induced chill of summer vehicle cabins.
Dense trees give way to open fields of nothingness. I visualize a motorized device of some type stripping the outcropping barren just prior to the first frost of the season. It’s all part of the sights on the drive to holiday.
I see a windmill and am reminded they are a source of electrical power for some. I remembered them as a young guy as something that was next to pretty flowers in places like Amsterdam and other towns with windmills on their postcards. I recall receiving postcards from friends and family members who went on holiday decades ago that was both reassuring and quaint in a way that has not been able to be reproduced since the advent of the cell phone.
Each year I make road trips feels amusingly out of sync with the rest of my existence. The speed at which she propels the vehicle helps temper my feelings of being trapped in a 20th century time machine, careening down the pavement at relatively pedestrian speeds. This is kept in perspective by the fact a crash would still most likely cause us catastrophic damage if not death–no amount of titanium and air bags able to change that.
Road trips require trust in the person who is driving, usually a friend or family member, to get you there safely. Unlike when traveling by air and you put your life in the hands of the capable pilot who is still a stranger. I like being able to make road trips with music on the stereo instead of wearing ear buds. I don’t hear phone conversations either when making road trips. If they make it allowable to have phone conversations in planes then the powers that be are taking away the last good thing about air travel. One of the big things with the evolution of both automobile and air travel is that in order for the airlines to remain profitable, passengers are asked to sacrifice a little more, give up something, whether it’s leg room, or elbow room, each year, while we still have more choices with the automobile. I know air travel pundits will tell you to drive or walk if you don’t like it, but for me this misses the point. I want travel to be pleasant. Listening to other peoples’ phone conversations is not pleasant.
We’ve had a lot of rain and have passed what looks like lakes but come to find out they are fields of crops overrun by recent precipitation deluges. While our technological advances infiltrate all corners of the globe, Mother Nature still has a pretty big say in how things are.
The road recalls this, with the holiday drive for this year yielding her latest and most influential, memory-jogging nudge to date.