So --- you think you're ready for your first big road trip. You've planned and prepared to set off on an adventurous course into that great wide open also known as the American road. Heck, you've even got a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a two-liter bottle of coke stashed in the backseat-you're ready to roll!
HA! You wouldn't know the difference between Route 66 and the Mississippi River on a road map. You have no idea what lies ahead of you, and you don't seem to care. Why? Because you are a road trip rookie, naively conjuring up illusions of grandeur (or dare I say, delusions of grandeur) about your upcoming excursion.
Warning: leaving your first road trip to fate is not recommended. Never fear. I am here to save you from the common blunders typical rookies make. Although I will not be there to hold your hand, I can offer the sound advice of a seasoned professional to assist you in your first experience. I will arm you with the knowledge and tools it takes to successfully complete your first mission as if you are already a veteran.
Let's take a step back in time to when I walked in your shoes. Yes I, too, was once an innocent idealist, envisioning my hair blowing in the wind as I sped carefree along the highway, radio blaring.
My first official road trip turned out to be nothing like I had visualized. At nineteen, my friend and I decided to drive from Seattle to San Diego for summer vacation. As we set off in the twilight just before dawn, we had no idea what the next forty-eight hours had in store for us. My convertible was packed to the brim with suitcases, pillows, blankets and CD's. Spare tire...what's that?
I was worried about having packed enough outfits, not whether the vital fluids were topped off. Five hours into the trip, we gassed up and decided to drop the top to get some sun. Not one mile later, we were met with flashing lights in the rearview mirror. Mr. State Trooper poo-pooed our plans to cruise through the state of Oregon. Exhausted and at each other's throats, we stopped in Bakersfield for the night at a roach-infested, flea-bag hotel (the only one available at two am). The following day, eager to arrive at our final destination, and nursing the pain of two brutal sunburns, we set off again after only five hours of sleep. We had heard about "LA grid-lock", but we were not prepared to spend three hours in a 20-mile stretch of I-5. At this point, I think we both were wondering what we were smoking when we decided to drive instead of fly.
It was not the least bit fun, we were not enjoying each other's company, and any thought of turning around and repeating this drive nine days later was repulsive. Exactly twenty-four "road hours" after our departure from Seattle, we arrived at our final destination, and proceeded to sleep for fifteen hours straight.