Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Distance Driving

I used to love driving long distances. Not so much any more. Partially that's just me getting old, but also some of the reasons for taking a long drive no longer apply.
When I first learned to drive, getting in the car for a few hours was a nice way to be alone for a few hours. Just me and my music - on cassette tapes, this being the early '90s. It was before everyone had a cell phone, so I had no fear of being interrupted. I remember making several-hour-long trips around the Portland, OR area with no destination in mind. Even went all the way up to Seattle and back once or twice. Since I graduated from college and moved out on my own, driving hasn't been necessary to have alone time. Sitting in front of a computer or laying on my couch with a book works just as well.

Living east of the Mississippi is another reason that long distance drives aren't as necessary any more. Getting from one major metropolitan area to another in the western US usually means 4+ hours on the road. Here in the midwest, it's usually more like 2-3 hours. Even less on the east coast, where in some places you effectively never leave such areas.

Simply getting older has taken some of the shine off making long drives, of course. Sitting in a car for hours on end isn't as appealing when your back hurts, but there are ways around it. I find that stopping once every hour or so to walk around for a few minutes really mitigates the aches and pains. Those stretch breaks cause a bit of a slowdown in overall travel speed, but it's worth the time.

When I was on my way to college, I took a trip all the way across the country rather than going straight to school. One long drive across US route 20, from coast to coast. No good reason, other than just to mark the change in life status to college student. It was an interesting experience. You see a lot of the country taking a largely non-highway route over extended distances. I don't think I'd do it again now, but even if I did, it probably wouldn't have the same impact. That kind of trip isn't the same the second time.

I still take the occasional trip that requires multi-hour drive time. Not just for the sake of driving, though - I need some kind of purpose to the trip. And not without breaks to give the old aches a pains a chance to subside.

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