Love it or Hate it: Road trips

by David Holub

Love itRoad trips are about freedom, the quintessentially American desire to go wherever we want, to take the long way, the scenic route, to put the windows down, crank up some ’70s rock ’n’ roll with nothing but open road, adventure and possibility ahead and a trail of dust behind.

I love passing through five states in a day, driving through storms, stopping on a whim for a view or to pee roadside.

I love having everything I need to subsist for weeks all behind me in the back or throwing in an audiobook and zoning out to the plot of a page-turning legal thriller, cruise control set 10 percent above the speed limit (enough to make good time but not enough to get pulled over).

I love stocking up on junk food – Twizzlers and Jolly Ranchers, Peanut M&Ms and Dr Pepper – delectables I would seldom eat otherwise but somehow seem OK – required even – when you’re in the car for longer than four hours, or driving for hours and hours then getting out of the car to stretch my legs and the air is noticeably more humid than the last stop. Because I’m now in Georgia.

I love going off the interstate and rolling into small Midwestern towns, finding a divey honky-tonk or gas station/cafe and sitting alongside people whose worlds are radically different than mine.

But, ultimately, it’s all about what Clark Griswold of “Vacation” fame said, “Getting there is half the fun. You know that.”

— David HolubHate itNext week, I will be taking my first massive road trip, driving from Colorado to New York state. Lots of people drive cross-country in their childhood on family trips, but my parents were never into that kind of thing. They were less interested in camping, more interested in going to art museums. Neither of them wanted to see Middle America, even though one grew up in Ohio and the other spent much of her youth in Chicago. Despite genetics, I’m excited to drive through states I’ve never been to: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee. I’m also apprehensive, considering the state of unrest in our country post-election.

I’ve taken road trips, of course, but none lasting more than eight or nine hours. This journey will be 36 hours. I’m not wild about audiobooks (though I will be listening to them this time, out of necessity), mostly because I’m a fast reader and get bored hearing someone else read aloud. I found a cheap CD version of Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” online and was going to purchase it, until I listened to a sample. Actress Annette Bening was the narrator, and she was terrible; totally fake-sounding, overemphasizing every word. You’ve got to be careful with audiobooks.

I suspect the worst part about a long-ass road trip is the time to think. Four hours of thinking time to yourself is wonderful, but if you go much longer than that, your introspection grows repetitive. There’s also something eerie about seeing so many miles of the country tick by. Everything starts to look the same. You question why people would live in such desolate, far-flung places. Other drivers are jerks. You’re the only sane person on the road. Or are you?

— Anya Jaremko-Greenwold


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