(Originally written Sunday, February 26, 2006)
Work kills. That's right, all work and no play make you, umm…somebody nobody wants to be around.
Everybody needs some time off, time to go handle their business. I'm talking about vacations. And what is more American and traditional than The Road Trip?
Who hasn't dreamed of just hoping in a car and driving into the setting sun? (The Setting Sun is a midget strip club by the way. I'm one of their best customers!) Road Trips are a way to escape, a journey into the unknown vistas and roads of America, where anything can happen. And it's cheaper then flying.
Of course, it's the palpable sense of possibility that drives people north, south, east and west so often. The equation is simple: You+Your Peoples+A Car=Adventure. And that's what we're all looking for deep down inside, aren't we? As kids, (most of us at least. I'm convinced that some people were born with adult mentalities) we had imaginations that were too large to fit inside our heads, so our fantasies and dreams would spill out around us, turning the regular world that we've come to take for granted as adults, into a series of endless opportunities for adventure and excitement.
Road Trips send us back to those naïve days of childhood. Driving down the road, who knows what could happen? You might get caught up with a drifter with large quantities of cash. You might pick up an alien in disguise. You might meet your future wife or husband.
Of course, don't forget how many horror movies start that way too. Pick up the wrong hitchhiker and you might end up skinless, hanging from a hook in some hick's root cellar, hoping you pass out before the rats eat you. Get a flat and you could end up spending the night running aimlessly and scared through a forest, with a hatchet-wielding psycho chasing you. It could happen. Those are the chances you take on a Road Trip.
The funny thing about Road Trips is that, while you're driving to a destination, where you end up isn't as important as how you get there. Once I went on a trip that should have only taken seven hours at most. But, since it wasn't about getting there, we ended up staying over night at a weird little town in Pennsylvania called Washington, where the people go to bed at ten, the bars are mostly empty and the bar flies, (weird old white guys in overalls and John Deere hats) listen to Method Man. It was surreal.
The extra time also gave us a chance to spend an incredible amount of time in a well-advertised porn store off the interstate, (5 miles to the Spurt 'n Squirt! We offer discreet service to the discriminating pervert! Browse our large selection of Gay Amish Donkey Porn! We have it all!) Naturally, we left the store with nothing more than a corny drinking board game that was played once and immediately forgotten.
Then there was the time we rented a van a drove from Springfield, Ohio, to Atlantic City, by way of Philly, (and the best cheesesteak I've ever had at a strip club in the middle of the afternoon.) To make great time we didn't stop if we didn't need to. Unfortunately, I happened to be very thirsty that trip and required large amounts of beer to satiate me. Without the ability to pull over every time I had to piss, I had to improvise. I'm going to spare you the details, suffice it to say it was all caught on camera and was a source of great merriment to everybody who saw it.
Though the Road Trip equation is simple, there are some aspects to it that require planning. You should always make sure you have adequate music. Radio stations go in and out, and the only ones that ever come on strong on the radio play either country music, or oldies from the '50s and '60s, or classical music, or some weird guy preaching at you angrily or Garrison Keeler's smooth, sleep-inducing voice, droning on and on about Lake Who-Gives-a-Crap. It's also helpful if your traveling companions listen to roughly the same music you do.
Always travel with at least one other person. If you're by yourself it's no longer a Road Trip, it's just A Long Drive. The more people that can comfortably sit in the vehicle, the better.
Pick a route with interesting sites. Sure, the interstate will get you there quicker, but back roads and routes are more interesting, plus they take you through small towns, mostly forgotten by time, that still have main streets and other quaint Mayberry shit like that.
Documentation of the trip is always good for memories. Disposable cameras, video, whatever you want.
When you pick a destination, be loose, because remember, it's not where you go, it's how you get there.
Next time you get some vacation time, grab a few friends, (no relatives, Road Trips have been known to destroy families and start generations-long feuds) a map, some gas money and hit the road. Take a trip into the setting sun. It's off of exit 6.