Nov 25, 2009

A Long Way Down


I love road trips. I really, surely, do. I like doing them with other people, but my friends aren't as willing as I am to drop everything, quit their jobs, sell their stuff, and hit the road for an indefinite period of time in an unknown direction. They're all Oh, I have to pay rent, and I would, but I have kids to feed. Whatever.


So, more often than not I find myself alone on these pavementy adventures. And this is fun too. Mostly because I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, without worrying about pleasing my travel companion. You drove all this way to knit in a hostel common room? Yes, yes I did. What of it? (Picture © Stuart Gray 2009)

Traveling by car is also great because you can be totally undiscriminating in what you bring. When backpacking you consider every single item because that'll be extra weight on your back and shoulders. Cost/Benefit analysis has a whole new meaning when trying to determine how many pairs of underwear you really need for a 30 day trip.

But with a car, anything goes. Just throw it in there. For example, here are some of the things I've brought on this trip. And keep in mind that at the time of packing I was only planning on spending a week in Portland in a friend's condo.

  • Camping equipment, including tent, 2 chairs, gas stove, sleeping bag, cooler
  • Duvet cover and two favorite pillows
  • Set of sheets for a queen size bed
  • 5 Jackets
  • 3 Mr. Noodles
  • Knitting bag and more wool than I could possible knit in a season.
  • 8 Books, including 1 from the library (now very much overdue)
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Bag of mason jars
  • Several tarps
  • Rope
  • Bouquet of flowers and two corsages (acquired in Portland, compliments of Bev)
Of all of this I've used the duvet, read two of the books, and made use of the knitting and sewing machine (but only because I would have felt really silly if I'd brought it all this way and didn't use it at least once). I've enjoyed the aesthetic value of the flowers for a few days, and am now enjoying the smell of their rot. Which reminds me, I really need to chuck those at some point.

I don't know why I bothered with the camping stuff. Weather aside, it get's dark at 5pm. How fun is it to set up camp and then sit in the dark for hours. By yourself? Answer - no fun at all.

One good thing about traveling with someone else is that I stop a whole lot more. When solo I tend to just keep driving. And driving. And driving. I took the scenic coastal route from Ashland to Valencia. Around 1500km, and I did that in two days. nine hours on day one, twelve hours on day two. And this included some truly amazing coastal scenery and driving through Napa Valley. Who doesn't stop in Napa Valley?

Me. I don't. I take pictures from through the windshield.

I also show up at my friend's house a few days early at 11:30pm hoping that they're still awake and will in some small way be happy to see me (hi Ted!).

Hmm, maybe when my friends are saying I would, but I have kids to feed, what they really mean is I would totally abandon my family to drive around aimlessly. Just not with you. Because unlike you, I need to pee occasionally. Freak.

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