People. Road trips are a serious business. One should tread carefully.
“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Road trips: the all-American, coming-of-age, preferred method of travel for the free spirited and…those with small children. The road trip is for those willing to go the distance, the strong willed and the adventurous. The road trip is for those with sound hearts and strong bladders. The decision to drive is the choice to pile into a…roomy, sweet smelling, suede-lined, luxurious vehicle for many hours with unknowing companions. Those who embark on these journeys and don’t wish to end them at the wrath of the Green Destiny, need only follow a simple code of road trip etiquette.
I just traveled with my friend, Karl, from the cheery, if not quirky, city of Provo, Utah, back to my hometown of Silverdale, affectionately termed by Karl as, the land of “that wet feeling.”
Now in order to survive stage 16 of the Tour de France, you need only remember a few things:
1. Driving for hours can make you drowsy. Take turns. If you’re riding shotgun try to stay awake through perilous times. Too many horror stories about drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
A sigh of relief was shared as we finally got out of the shadows of the Misty Mountain. This is a pretty accurate depiction of the view for a good 40 minutes of driving through the pass. And yeah, I’m making Lord of the Rings references, what say you?
If you are driving, it is good to play car games to pass the time. Try to engage your mind as much as possible. For example, pay attention to the cars you pass. When you pass a car more than twice, it is appropriate and amusing to demand that shotgun lick the window.
Licking the window is also a better, more provoking way to respond to drivers with road rage and “the bird.”
Me: Lick the window!
Me: Just lick it, Karl!
2. Great memories have been made when one takes time to smell the roses. Or, on a road trip, petroleum. While it might not always be economical to stop at every single small town, every once and a while snacks need restocking, passengers need bathroom breaks, and the lord of dance within you just needs to be released.
Here, in the quaint town of Snowville, the kindly driver ahead of us at the station offered us the $2 in change she had left over for gas. TWO DOLLAS? That’s enough for a king sized Reeses. Joy. She was a nice lady.
Sometimes, when a sign that reads “Geological Site” draws you in, it’s just a crumby reminder that Idaho is a dried up lake. That’s a metaphor. I think.
3. Use the restrooms at every stop. It does not matter if you don’t need to go. Just go. Even if you have to stop at a painfully ironic gas station.
4. It is road trip etiquette that ye shalt fork over music choosing privileges to the driver. Unless, thine music dost stinketh like the plague. Then, thou shalt be accommodating to thine passengers. Passengers shouldest be prevented from desiring to hurl their bodies from thine vehicle. I am talking to thee, smooth-jazz zealots.
Here is a link to appropriate road trip music.
One of the few things that shouldn’t be left solely to the driver is heating and AC controls.
5. Bring lots of snacks. That’s just common sense. Personally, snacks keep me from becoming a ravenous road monster. However, snacking is in no way a substitute for stopping for meals along the way. If you’re not pressed for time, want a great story, and seek especially delicious food, try supporting local businesses. Unless you find a Chick-Fil-A. Always go to Chick-Fil-A. That stuff’s just delicious. Here was an argument I witnessed between my sister and her hubby as we road tripped for Thanksgiving. Imagine two old men playing chess in the park:
Shannon: “I want to go to Carl’s Jr.! Or Chik-Fil-A!”
Brenan: “We’re going to KFC!”
Brenan: “I HAVE A COUPON!” (A hard bargain, but really?)
Any suggestions for how to choose places though? Who gets trump here?
Karl & I stopped at the Voodoo Donuts in Portland for our midnight snack (midnight because we spent an hour looking for parking, darn bike riding hippies). We ordered the delightful “Portland Creams.” They were delicious raised yeast donuts filled with delectable Bavarian cream. *Smack
6. When driving, know where you’re going on paper. Don’t rely on phones. Take up astrology. Follow the stars. Smoke signals. A compass. Put a knife into the ground and listen to the earth. ANYTHING else. Phone maps are paunchy rump-fed vassals and relying on them is a bad idea. Oh yeah, the other reason we took an hour in Portland is because we were prey to that forsaken phone navigator. Freaking ridiculous.
7. Make sure your car is in it for the long haul. Get your oil changed, your climate control settings checked. Make sure your tires are all in line. Have a set of jumper cables. Be smarter than I was driving across the mountainous pass without chains, a change of tire, or even a flashlight.
8. One last, make sure you let your family and friends know when you arrive in Rivendell (last one, I promise). After all, it’s a dangerous business, going out your door. I love you all.