One of the side effects of having family all over the country is the ability, or, in some cases, need, to travel long distances to visit said family. Now, this can be viewed as a simple time, one where you can traverse the continent, finding new views that might have missed your observation before. It can be seen as an opportunity to check off more of the “Most Random Places in America” from your favorite family restaurant placemat. Or, it can be a step into some sort of Sartre-inspired labyrinth, one from which you can only hope to escape with your sanity.
And before you go assuming that your method of travel dictates that completely, well, let me just take a moment to correct you. Because, when truly examined, travel is something that, the slightest hiccup in your plan could spin you into a miasma of terror, or find you voyaging off the beaten path into a Zen-like state.
Flying is certainly one way to go, but, if you listen to news reports every year around the holidays, one has to wonder how we ever got off the ground in the first place, and why we believed we shouldn’t be simply treated as mass, unfeeling cargo in the second place. I can’t speak for train travel, because, seriously, who gets to ride around in trains anymore? Barons? People with pipes and floofy hats?
My personal method of travel from one location to another is via the road trip. It gives you all of the comfort of an airplane flight, except, instead of peanuts and a mini-can of soda, you can eat and drink whatever you find in gas stations and diners along the path (try the egg salad sandwich! We don’t think it’s alive!). Sure, you’re making sure that your travels take a lot longer but what would you be doing with all of that extra time you’re saving? Sleeping? Let’s be realistic here, driving allows you to make sure that at least one person is awake at all times, and everyone else is, if sleeping, doing so in an incredibly uncomfortable fashion (unless you’ve got a motor home or something, in which case you’re the prince of the roads, and it’s the 80s all over again). Plus, driving allows you to find those little attractions off the roadside that you might never see, something that you can never hope to do while being propelled through the air.
Finally, possibly the best benefit of driving is the ability to see the worst drivers of all of the states that you cross. Coming from Minnesota, I’m not going to claim that our drivers are good (because, well, they aren’t), but there’s a huge difference between drivers who seem to eschew things like the zipper merge and logical passing and those drivers who feel like their blinker is to be used as an indication of thanks for the lane change they’ve already done. And yes, you could fly, and then rent a car when you arrive at your destination, but where’s the fun in that?
Unless you can get one of those fancy cars with armor plating. In which case, yeah, shell out the extra bucks.