As I mentioned in my previous post, I had to go to California this past weekend for a funeral. Since I live in Kentucky, this involved a very long ride in a car with my family. (We might have flown, but alas, unlike some people, we are not made of enough money to buy plane tickets for four adults and two children at what is relatively the last minute.) My dad makes the drive in pretty good time – about 48 hours when one includes a stop for one night – but it is in many respects interminable and a little boring.
These are the kinds of road trips I’ve been on. I haven’t really been on that idealized, spur-of-the-moment cross-country trek with college friends. (I didn’t have many college friends, for a start.) My cross-country trips have only been with family, and these days we don’t have a lot of time for sight-seeing on the way there or back again, though sometimes we fit in a stop at a national park or two. A couple years back we stopped at the Grand Canyon, and this summer past we hit up Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
I should make clear that these trips have a singular destination – Los Angeles, California. Most of my extended family lives out there, in particular my elderly grandfather. The trips are mostly to see him, but we fit in other fun stuff as well, like trips to Disneyland. When I was younger and my parents had more vacation time (or rather, the ability to take consecutive weeks of vacation), we went to other places, like Yellowstone National Park and Boston and Niagara Falls. But I’m okay with only going to L.A., because at least then I get to see my family, whom I don’t see often at all. (Also Disneyland. I love Disneyland.)
But enough about destinations; this is about the journey. Sitting in a car is not the most exciting way to spend most of two days, but that’s how we do it. The latter half of the trip out is usually the most interesting, because the landscapes become breathtaking in New Mexico and Arizona. The first half… not so much. It’s mostly forests, farmland, and prarie, which is nothing to really write home about. Still, sometimes the sky gets big and beautiful, and I enjoy looking at it al the same.
I mentioned how boring sitting in a car can be. I manage to keep myself entertained, usually with books or else writing and video games. I’ve only recently acquired a tablet with which to watch movies, but I’m sure that’ll become a staple of my travel time soon enough. This most recent trip, though, I’ve found I’ve been sleeping a lot, which I don’t know whether to be happy or miffed about. I’m miffed because I could have been using that sleeping time to write or read or even, yes, watch movies. I’m happy, though, because I more usually have enormous trouble sleeping on these trips, so any shut-eye is fine with me.
All in all, I enjoy our yearly trips out to California. As boring as it is to be on the road for two days, there are perks. I get to see beautiful parts of these United States, parts I would probably never venture out to on my own. I spend some time mostly unplugged, able to do “offline” things I don’t always manage in my day-to-day life. It’s not a “traditional” road trip by any means, but it’s still a road trip to me.