The road trip

Balancing out the 25 dollar barrel of oil with the plummeting Canadian dollar (the two things are not unrelated), it seems particularly asinine to take a road trip through the US. Why not just fling loonies out the window as we speed along the Natchez Trace?

But, still. The lure of the road. Crammed into a VW Golf with a lanky teenager, blasting CDs our daughter burned for us for Christmas (“I’ve been listening to those playlists these past few weeks,” she told us this weekend, “You’re really going to enjoy them.”), too much luggage in the back, obscuring whatever’s visible in the rear view mirror–which I sincerely hope is SNOW. Leaving winter behind us is kind of the point.

I took my first on-my-own road trip when I was 18. Lori and I decided to check out Nelson BC’s David Thompson University Centre. It was possible that Lori would go there. We started out in Victoria and ended up in Calgary, as one does. In the interim, we stayed at dubious motels, promised a lift to a hitchhiker as we waited for a Kootenay ferry (he turned out to have a garbage bag full of weed, his earnings from a summer tending BC’s unofficial crop-of-choice; we had second thoughts. Halfway through the ferry ride, he’d discovered that he’d forgotten his shoes. He turned back, serving us up a handful of product that lasted quite a long time), and returned to find out a friend had killed himself in a police-assisted suicide.

Road trips can be like that–life changing. Liminal journeys, crossing from one state of being to another. Learning experiences. Certainly adventures. It’s why people write about them. Even the Icelandic saga writers–strange shit happened if you left Iceland, it seemed to go. All bets were off. Anything could happen.

Which can be kinda liberating, right? Though for Icelandic voyagers in 1000 A.D., the idea of “away” was almost always lethal. You met witches and selkies, fell off horses, met your fate, inevitably bloody.

Atlas Obscura is my new go-to website for good things on the road. They seem to be chanelling my need for blurred double yellow; their First Road Trip Across America article landed in my inbox today. Horatio Nelson Jackson crossed the country west to east, carrying with him gas, a dog, and a mechanic. Now, a mechanic is not a bad idea if I could find somewhere to fit him/her, but I can’t imagine stuffing Arlo into the backseat with Charlie.

We’re all going to miss the Dog something fierce. But I don’t think he has the inborn need for travel, for the liminal, for Campbell’s threshold journey. I mean, he’s a dog, one that shivers when the car keys are rattled, not the kind to stick his head out an open window, catching air in his wide nostrils. He’s positively Icelandic in his outlook on life. Home is good, the best.

He’ll just have to hold the fort.

Bud the Pit Bull
Bud, the Pit Bull who crossed America by car in 1903. Bought for $15 in Idaho. Photo from By Mary Louise Blanchert [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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