Wednesday, September 04, 2013
TMI Questions: Road Trip!
What a coincidence.
On Thursday, I am off on a road trip all by myself. It’s one of my bi-annual retreats where I try to regain my center while coping with the challenges of travelling to somewhere I have never been.
It’s my kind of fun. Sometimes I end up coming home early, but typically Sunday will find me exhausted and happy to be home.
So this week’s TMI Questions couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
TMI Questions: Road Trip!
Questions designed to reveal Too Much Information
Pilot or navigator?
Depends on whom I am travelling with. I have three buds that are good when needing/wanting companionship on a day trip or overnighter.
Two are so passive, nothing interesting would ever happen unless I suggested something. They are easy to get along with, great passengers, and, usually, good fun.
The third is a little more high maintenance, a bit more neurotic, a lot more controlling. Still, if it’s my vehicle and I know where I’m going, then he is more than content to let me drive.
I will rely on all three to keep me posted regarding exits, especially when driving through strange, large, cities.
When travelling with my dogs – which I used to be able to do when there were only two – then I am always the passenger; they sit on my lap. Getting somebody to agree to drive me and my dogs about? Not always an easy sell. What I’ve learned to do is leave them at home! It’s best for them and for me. Because inevitably the trip becomes all about the dogs and their welfare, which gets tiresome. I can’t stop and go into a restaurant if they are with. I am loathe to leave them alone in a hotel room for long periods of time. So my activities become restricted due to my neuroticism regarding their care.
The only time that I get to play passenger is when travelling with my youngest sister, which I used to do once a year. I trust her so much I just let her call the shots. And when I feel the need to, I just slip off by myself for a while. She’s always cool with it.
Were you ever able to read a map?
My sense of direction has become so much better. In fact, I am pretty confident about it these days, although, I just recently had an instance where it took me forever to get to a friend’s cabin because the directions he wrote out for me were at odds with Google Maps and reality. I am learning more and more to do my own research and trust myself.
And while I will get things wrong on occasion, yes, I can read a map. They are so large and awkward to try and read in the car. And they become dated so quickly. Thank goodness for modern technology. Why bother with maps when you have GPS, Navigator, and Google Maps on your cell phone?
That said, many a time GPS has taken places not on my original itinerary or by my choosing. So, never trust that bitch completely.
Common sense is always my best bet. That and stopping to ask for directions, which I have no problem doing. Why stress alone in a car, when you can pull into a service station and have them sort it out for you? I’ve never understood men who have issues with asking for that kind of assistance.
Can you sleep or read in a car?
Sleep: rarely. Unless someone else is driving (hee, hee) and I get to lie down in the back seat, and even then I remain pretty aware of my surroundings. I don’t sleep on planes, either. I simply don’t trust life enough to be that relaxed except in a grounded bed.
Reading: never. Ever since my mountain biking accident, when I broke my neck in two places my sense of balance has not been what it once was. Therefore, I get carsick if I try to read anything more than a post-it note while in motion. And I miss it. The last time I tried, it was a Dean Koontz book that my sister gave me. Hard telling if it was my inner-ear thing or the writing, but I almost immediately became nauseated. I’ve never tried to read in the car since.
Driving in the snow is_________?
A g-g-g-g-gasssssss! I love it. I used to be much more reckless than I am these days (I own a fairly newer model car now, and have to make sure to take care of it), but in the bad old days, when I drove used crap, I was pretty fearless; no drift too tall, no visibility too obscured, no ice too slick. I love the feel of how the tires bite into the snow. There’s something hardwired in my brain that senses the type of geometry and physics involved with moving a vehicle through snow and ice.
And while I never, ever do it on purpose, when my car does go into a spin, I almost always am able to correct it immediately. There was only one instance two winters ago when I hit some black ice and had no control… that was truly eye-opening. Fortunately, it ended well.
Still, while more cautious, I do not fear snow.
Rain, on the other hand…
A really heavy downpour will make me so damn anxious. I hate those storms where the rain is coming down so heavy you cannot see anything in front of you. Driving blind is no fun, as I’m sure you all know. I end up feeling so helpless. You would think just pulling over onto the side of the road would be an option, but when on a highway or freeway that can be as dangerous in a rainstorm as staying on the road.
Music, talk or audio books?
Music, music, music. If, for some reason, my CD player is not cooperating due to humidity or heat/cold, then I will listen to the radio. I love small town, independent stations with a lone jock who gets to play whatever the hell they want. I love hearing about all the local events on their daily calendar. It makes me yearn to live in a small town again (although the reality of doing that is a nightmare).
But, yes, music. Whatever is stuck in my CD player. Usually it’s a dance music compilation that I’ve burned, though sometimes I am obsessed with a new release and will play it over and over again (Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Phoenix, Passion Pit).
If travelling with someone, I will talk over the music for a while, but then turn it off. I can only deal with so much sonic input. Talking while driving? Not a good idea for yours truly. I don’t know why, but I cannot multi-task in that manner. When I drive, I need to focus; otherwise I tend to make stupid driving mistakes.
I’ve never listened to an audio book in my life. I like books – the feel of them, the weight of the page. I just have no interest in being read to. I think that has to do with my over-active mind. When travelling alone, my mind is allowed to obsess over whatever it wants. I find it very entertaining. There’s a lot of weirdness floating up in there, driving alone sorts it out.
Pack a snack or road kill?
I drink this no calorie, no chemicals, carbonated water. It comes in all sorts of interesting flavors (and a couple of dreadful ones). I always pack at least a six pack. I also make sure to have a couple of Cliff bars (made with organic rice syrup) in case my blood sugar implodes.
These days I avoid eating anything from convenience stores, gas stations, or vending machines – with one exception: when I used to eat meat, I had a thing for these weird pink-meat sandwiches (ham salad) on soggy white bread that you could buy at gas stations or in vending machines. They are the sort of anti-food that I grew up with as a child and for the longest time I was fascinated by their texture, color, and weird, pickled tasted. Fortunately, I no longer eat meat, so such crap is off my personal menu.
I do love small town truck stops and family restaurants. But they have to be clean. After being seated, I will go check out the mens room. Its condition will determine whether or not I get anything more than dry toast and a cup of coffee. I’m game for new experiences, but they have to be up to snuff.
Direct or scenic route?
Depends on whether the road trip is destination-driven or a total lark. If a total lark (no agenda, no timetable), then it’s scenic all the way. My favorite thing is to find different routes to Duluth from various locations. Back roads, as long as they are blacktop, do not make me anxious. Gravel roads, on the other hand, may.
Love shoreline drives (autumn is best for this). Love driving through forests and state parks. Love the desert and rocky hillsides of the southwest.
If the trip is destination-driven and there is a timetable involved, then only direct routes work for me. I have to get from A-Z as quickly and efficiently as possible.
I play them all by myself.
My favorite is doing the alphabet using billboards, road signs, and business signs. Of course the letters have to be found in order, which can make for some long waits for ‘Q’, ‘X’, and ‘Z’. And, of course this is only fun in populated states. Nebraska? Oh, my.
When with certain travelling companions, music trivia is a fun way to spend the day. I will whip out some song collections that I have burned – for instance, soul music from the seventies (, and we will try to name the artist, the chart position, and any interesting facts about the group.
Sex games in the car? Never have. I think the idea of being pulled over by a State Trooper in some podunk little town after having been seen by some conservative trucker who then reports your little round of exhibitionism to the authorities? Very scary, Mary.
Can you fix a flat?
Yep. And have. It may look like a skit in progress by Red Skelton, but I will eventually get it done.
Of course, these days I, like anyone with half a brain, have Triple-A. So, it depends on how long one has to wait. I tend to be impatient about such things.
Best way to avoid such a situation? Regular car maintenance and newer tires.
Have you ever been or picked up a hitchhiker?
No. And no.
With my luck? I hop into a car of a serial killer, or stop to pick one up. And I don’t mean your run of the mill torture - rape - kill - dismember - scatter kind of serial killer. I would end up with one of those creative types that sew my mouth to someone’s ass or puts me in a pit while he fattens me up enough so he can wear my skin.
I like watching those crime reenactment programs on television. I don’t intend to be the subject of one.
Rest stops? Oh, you mean adult entertainment?
Yes, and yes. Check out those stalls for graffiti? Walk those paths behind the restrooms to look for the telltale signs of sexual activity (used condoms, lube packets)?
There was a time when I would stop at every rest stop and wayside rest along a given road. However, these days, I am less likely to actually do anything with anybody I might meet. I’m no stranger to getting some strange, but let’s face it… there are better places and ways to go about it.
Hoping to see a lot more this weekend!
Wish me luck.