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Road Trips | Escaping the Boredom
Tuesday, May 28
source via Kate Spade's 2010 spring ad campaign
Over the past 6 years, Danny and I have done a lot of road tripping together. We've taken the shorter 5-hour drive stints to LA, Las Vegas, and Zion's National Park; we've crossed Nevada and it's never ending desert a hundred times for the 12-hour trek to Danny's hometown in California; we've driven up and down the lower half of the eastern coast; and we've even made the 30+ hour trek all the way from Georgia to Utah a few days after we were married (second time I've made that trip myself).
With summer approaching, I'm getting that itch for a nice road trip. A chance to hop in the car and just drive. Leave the city and the jobs and the worries behind for a few days. See a few new sights, drive through a few new towns, and experience life somewhere else in the country. The excitement of leaving to go somewhere, anywhere, is always enough to keep me going that first hour or so. Then, depending on how long it's going to take to get to that somewhere-anywhere place, the boredom starts setting in. That "how on earth am I going to just sit in one place and stare out a window for the next 10+ hours and not go crazy" feeling. Oh, I always bring a book. And a journal. And there's music. Sometimes a video on my iPod. But come on - we've all dealt with that ridiculous boredom that bears down on us after so many hours of sitting in the same spot and seeing the exact same thing out your window for miles and miles on end (I'm looking at you, Nevada).
So what do you do when the boredom gets too much? How do you stave-off the road trip boredom? Here are my top 3 favorite ways to enjoying the car trip as much as the end destination:
We discovered our love for audio books the day I took my last final for college. Tired, hungry, and exhausted from a week's worth of exams, we made a quick stop at a Cracker Barrel that bordered the interstate we'd be on for the next 11 hours. As we were perusing their little store that leads into the restaurant, we found a stack of rental audio books. Meaning, we could rent them for as long as we'd be on the road, then return them as soon as we got back into town. We found the first few Percy Jackson books and decided, hey - why not? Let me tell you, those books saved our lives that trip. We just sat there, listened, laughed at a few voice-acting moments (ok, a lot of them), and had a great time. Those books kept us awake and alert until 4am when we finally pulled into the hotel our family was staying at. Ever since then, we've rarely taken a road trip without an audio book at our side. I don't know what they do to us, but the time passes like magic. The next road trip we take we'll be starting up book 5 of the Harry Potter series. I'd forgotten how much we love us some good ol' J.K.
Taking Pit Stops
As long as we're not in a hurry, I love dragging out a road trip and taking pit stops. Finding that town's hidden little Ma and Pa restaurant on the side of the road that only locals frequent; discovering a hiking trail that leads up to one pretty incredible view; walking down a new city's Main St; exploring a town's version of a River Walk. Pit stops where you step outside your car and get a tiny glimpse of what it'd be like to live in that part of the country... in that little town, down that little neighborhood, on that side of the street. One thing I've learned, from living on the East Coast, moving to the West Coast, and traveling almost everywhere in between, is that everyone loves where they live. Everyone's proud of where they come from. Pit stops are a chance to see what's to love about that place you've stopped in. A chance to step out of your world and experience someone else's for a bit.
I always bring my journal with me, every time I'm leaving home for a few days. I'll write in the car, on a plane, in a tent, or even on a boathouse somewhere out on the middle of a lake. I like to remember the things I noticed, the way I felt, the new things experienced. My typical journal is a small account of the everyday - what I did, what I thought, etc. But I also like to jot down story notes in a notebook. One day, I'd like to publish some sort of story. Imagination is fantastic, but there's nothing like the inspiration that comes from traveling and the new ideas, feelings, and thoughts that tend to accompany it.
There are other things that I love to do during a road trip. Talking is always my favorite. Danny and I like to imagine where we'll end up living in the next few years after we leave Arizona, where we might settle down, how many kids we'll have, what they'll be like, where we could travel if we could go anywhere, etc. Traveling with a group of people, sing-a-longs and games are always top of the list. And eating... eating is my absolute favorite. Nothing like road trip snacks, yum.
So, friends - what do you do to stave off the boredom of a long road trip? How do you pass the time?
ps: The last two photos are from singer-songwriter Orba Square's road trip tour across the US; it's a visual diary scroll of photos, thoughts, people, and places. Well worth a look. Check it out here (and enjoy some pretty great music at the same time).