Something I wish someone told me about 13 hour drives is just how long it actually feels.
I mean yeah, already 13 hours doing anything seems like a monumental task, but we only know that because we relate it to things like Overtime at work or a long day of school. Even then they don’t come out to a full 13 hours.
A blockbuster film ranges anywhere between 1.5 to 2.5 hours at a given time. A football game, professional or not, can last anywhere between 2-4 hours. Reading a small paperback takes between 3-5 hours at most. Heck even the audiobook for Game of Thrones comes out to 8 hours. I would know. I listened to it during my first day of driving.
Granted I have been on many road trips before. My family would often travel to Mexico when i was younger, or go across the states for god knows whatever adventure we wanted. Not once did the length ever seem unmanageable, but then again, I always had a book or a gameboy, and lots of company.
This time, I was on my own. That means I had to take care of things on my own. No dad to pump gas. No mother to provide snacks. No older sister to pester for countless hours. Nope. If I wanted entertainment, I needed to do it myself. And believe me, for thirteen hours at the wheel, that is much harder than it sounds.
Heart of the Mojave, Nevada
One thing I was thankful for, going from California to Grand Junction, CO. was a very pretty trip. During this particular leg I visited 5 states, and passed countless natural landmarks. You can always tells the deserts apart, for Arizona is always red, Nevada is always yellow, and Utah is a greedy and grandeoise mix of both.
Outside Midvale, Utah
It was for this reason I was thankful my journey began this way. For one thing it provided many beautiful sights I wouldn’t otherwise have seen. It was also a fantastic distraction from the crushing reality of moving away from home.
Trust me, when you’re alone for that long, your mind has a way of letting these things creep up on you.
To combat this I made sure to keep my mind occupied. Playing mental games, listening to audiobooks, heck even putting your mp3 player on shuffle and letting it go is a great way to distract yourself. Thanks to that I rediscovered my love for certain bands I had long forgotten.
Here are a few songs I found in the depth of my playlist. Wherever you are they’re all worth a listen:
Another thing thing they don’t tell you about long solo road trips is how starved for conversation you become. Think about it, humans are typically social creatures. Even the most hardcore introvert loves a stirring discussion. Sadly, I learned I am very much an extroverted man, for I often made stops just to talk to people at convenient stores.
I must have looked pretty obvious to one particular teller in Utah:
“On a long trip?” he asked while stuffing my third pack of gum into a bag.
“Yeah, how could you tell?” I said, lifting my sunglasses to my uncombed hair.
“You’ve spent more time chatting with me than buying your things.”
I turned around and realized I was holding up a rather sizable line for a gas station. So, with a smile and a thanks, I took off.
All that being said, I did have a blast driving. What made it particularly memorable were the people I got to see and talk to. Many I saw in passing, able to exchange an all too brief hi-bye before my schedule tore me in another direction. Others I spoke through bluetooth (i’m not a reckless driver), and offered hours of much needed conversation.
Then, there were the ones I got to see in person. Again, when you’ve been in a car for far too long, human interaction seems like a blessing. I could spend an entire thousand more blog entries on these people, but by now y’all are probably tired of reading. I don’t blame you, but can you imagine you’ve likely been reading for five minutes?
Thhat would mean you’d probably have to read this blog entry at least 156 times to make 13 hours. Frankly I can think of many better things you could do with your time.
So, rather than fizzle out, i’ll show you what the rest of my trip looked like.
The still beautiful but abandoned Dana College
The cheapest gas i’ve seen this side of the Mississippi.
Rainbow in Decorah, Iowa.
Summerfest in Milwaukee Iowa, with my friend Bret.
Switchfoot live. What a concert.
The Minneapolis Skyline
Anyhow, that was a look into my journey. In the following weeks I should return to posting commentary on writing, reading, and overall geekery. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns post them in the section below.
Until next time