Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anatomy of a Road Trip

Grateful Dead--"On The Road Again (live)" (mp3)

PURPOSE: to drive some of my daughter's things, primarily a large, won't-quite-fit-in-the-car couch back to college.

LENGTH: 1,076 miles in 27 hours, 17 minutes (including a night's sleep).

ROUTE: Chattanooga, Tennessee to Knoxville, Tennessee to Lexington, Kentucky to Cincinnati, Ohio to Gambier, Ohio.

SOUNDTRACK: 187 songs with the Ipod set on "shuffle," starting with the Stones' "All Down The Line" and ending with LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends." But, the Ipod always surprises you, and some unexpected pleasures along the way included a solo bootleg version of Springsteen's "Racing In The Streets" (I'd forgotten what a great song that is), the always-uplifting "Mtn Cat" by the Sheds, and a Gillian Welch cover of John Hartford's "In Tall Buildings" that brought tears to my eyes and made me wonder what the hell I am doing.

FOOD: a small bag of Smartfood, a Chik-Fil-A combo #1, a Tim Horton's honey-dipped cruller and coffee, a Tim Horton's ham and swiss sandwich combo, a regular size Gold Star chili (4-way with beans), a Steak 'N Shake combo #1.

HIGHLIGHTS: The brief times I spent with my daughter. When I envisioned driving back to college with her, I forgot about the fact that we would be in two cars, mine filled with the large couch. Still, the moments in Chik-Fil-A and Tim Horton's are worth the trip.

LOWLIGHTS: When my daughter cut her departure from a gas station to close and scraped most of the side of her still pretty new car.

A night at a Knight's Inn, arguably the most godawful hotel chain in America. My wife and I spent the second night of our honeymoon in one, something she has never let me forget. But, my daughter and I did escape that dump with no bites despite being in one of the most bedbug-infested cities in America.



--flipped off a trucker who swung into fast lane in front of me and proceeded to ride alongside the truck he was supposed to pass for 10 minutes

--held down horn for over a minute (I counted) when a car cut in front of me at the I-75/I-24 split.

--multiple close "cut ins" in front of cars going too slow in fast lane that I had to go around.

--regular and indiscriminate use of the word "cock."

PERSONAL DISCOVERIES: I spent all of 15 minutes at my destination, Kenyon College, and so the drive became mostly just about the driving, not the excitement of getting somewhere, not the chance to enjoy the various beauties of this great land of ours, not the shared memories of the road. Just the driving. At some point, the Ipod gets boring, the seat position gets boring, the chewing of leftover ice in a cup gets boring, the glances into other cars as you pass gets boring, the Right Wing bumper stickers get boring, the giant white cross erected next to the adult superstore gets boring, even the occasional yellowish goop from a collision with a bug gets boring, singing aloud gets boring, phone calls get boring, breaking the law by texting gets boring, even the pleasures of being able to fart with impugnity get boring. And so you race, race, race to get home, and when you get home, everyone is gone shopping and you walk around the house wondering what to do now that you're done.


Trey said...

Well Bob, I had a whole comment written up, that Blogger saw fit to destroy. So let me summarize and say, I love this post. Totally perfect and amazing.

And, when it finally happens that we get together while your in New Orleans, I look forward to swapping Road Trip stories.


troutking said...

Awesome post! So you went with the 4-way chili. Hard to go wrong. Racing in the Streets rules! How the hell did you wind up at a Knights Inn??? And why did you knowingly stay in the most bedbug infested city in the country? And why is Cincinnati such a bedbug hotspot? Do bedbugs love cinnamon flavored chili or Graeter's ice cream??? Why is Dusty Baker such a good manager in Cincy and not for the Cubs?

Bob said...

Stayed in Columbus, which is also on the list of the top 15 bedbug cities (midwest hit especially hard), but I didn't find that out until last night.

The Kentuckian said...

Tell me more about the long scrape.