"Thanks to the Interstate Highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything." - Charles Kuralt.
Every two or three years I like to drive the 1305 miles from my home in Wisconsin to Outdoor Retailer. I haven't taken the long Ribbon of Boredom (a.k.a. Interstate 80) for years.
Son 1.0 is 17, and this is probably the last summer I'll have him at home. We did the Epic Guy Trip five years ago, and it was time for another. Instead of taking the northern route, we decided to go south. Two days of driving, and we're halfway through Kansas. We have two more days to get to Salt Lake. I really hope we make it.
I'm writing from a clean but cheap motel, greedily sucking down WiFi and charging every cell phone and camera battery I have. The boy is still asleep: it's 5:45 AM somewhere, I'm not sure what time zone I'm in, not that it matters much.
We've seen a lot already on this trip. We've managed to eat only at locally-owned, owner-operated restaurants, another benefit of not taking Flatline Highway. We've seen the world's largest ball of twine, random English phone booths in front of a hardware store, and a swarm of dragonflies bird-dogging mosquitoes above a prairie cemetery. We've eaten huge meals that cost $13.00 for two hungry adults and left $7.00 tips, always much appreciated. We've seen the Barbed Wire Museum, the original American Gothic house Grant Wood used as his model (modern version attached), the Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge, and the Johnson County Fair. All because we took the roads less traveled; sometimes the roads not traveled at all. I've found fuel without ethanol, which means I'm getting really good gas mileage.
The time in the truck with Son 1.0 is precious. He still likes to be around me, for which I am unspeakably grateful. Even better, he likes to sing Gilbert and Sullivan at the top of his lungs. Yesterday we got through Mikado, especially enjoying the duets. Dang, the kid has good pitch, and can do patter songs. Impressive. We listened to the music from Star Trek. We sang Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (he sang Dr. Horrible, I sang Captain Hammer - you do need to see this if you haven't). When we got tired of singing, we listened to old radio shows of Gunsmoke on my iPod.
I have no idea where we're going today. Son 1.0 expressed interest in Canyon de Chelly. I'm thinking that's a great idea, but it would be a tough stretch to get there without violating the No Interstate Rule, so we may settle for some southern Utah stuff instead.
Did I mention I have no idea where we're going today?
Starting this Monday morning at 7:00 AM, my schedule is booked solid until Friday at 9:00 PM. I'm not exaggerating. My life, once I hit the quarter mile radius around the Salt Palace, is planned for a week. The contrast to my life today couldn't be more striking to me. It comes home easily when I look at my Google calendar for next week and it looks like a Piet Mondrian painting. This week, it looks like a template for a calendar...nothing on it but the automatic weekly appointments I didn't erase but could have.
It's a nice way to start a work week. The freedom of driving around such beautiful places at 55 mph is addicting -- but the opposite of an epic adrenelin rush. I'm becoming addicted to slow. Not sloth, just slow, methodical semi-directional movement. The only rule of navigation is to make sure we're sorta heading west-ish. Ironically, my brain has been more active as a by-product of slowwwwwwww.
The closer I get to Utah, the more I anticipate the family reunion that is Outdoor Retailer. I am a blessed man today. I get to sing Pirates of Penzance (I am the Pirate King) with my boy while driving to see my family.