Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday: Car Diversions

Since I was a small child, traveling with my mother on lengthy road trips across America, I’ve clocked a lot of miles on America’s highways and byways. Though I’m accustomed to the long drives and the sometimes boring stretches (especially that particular part of I-10, from San Antonio to El Paso), even I need ways to pass the time – and the state lines.

Now, that I’m on the road yet again – making the seasonal journey between northern Michigan to southern Louisiana – I’m giving some thought to such diversions. Here, in no particular order, are the six ways that I often combat boredom on the road:

Conversation: Whether riding with my mom from New Orleans to New York or traveling with Dan from South Padre Island to Los Angeles, I’ve always found that conversation is an ideal way to ignore the discomfort of road travel. With Mom, I could talk about movies and music and current events and our upcoming destinations – while with Dan, well, the topics haven’t really changed, which is helpful for me.

Auto bingo: When I was a kid, I used to love playing auto bingo with my mom. Since she was driving and unable to have her own card, we would share one – trying, together, to spy the things (from silos to police cruisers to tanker trucks) pictured on the bingo card. It was a hoot and a half, especially the time that we needed to spot a pig, and a whole truckload passed right by my window. Today, Dan and I have our own bingo card – but we have yet to play it. Maybe tomorrow?

XM Radio: What would Dan and I do without our XM? From comedy channels to old radio serials to Monty Python skits to classic tunes to news programs, our XM keeps us entertained for hours on end. However did Mom and I travel without it?

Truck stops: If our legs are feeling sore, or we just can’t stand another moment in the car, Dan and I simply seek out a truck stop – whether it’s a Pilot, Petro, Flying J, Love’s, or Travel Center of America. There, we typically find quirky gifts, yummy snacks and beverages, relatively clean restrooms, paperbacks and audiobooks, and, if we’re feeling so inclined, a restaurant, an arcade, and private showers.

Wireless Internet: I must admit that, as with my childhood journeys with Mom, Dan tends to be the designated driver while I tend to be the designated navigator (ironic considering that I’m directionally challenged). Since I often sit in the passenger seat, I often have access to my beloved laptop, which can usually find a wireless signal, even in the most remote of places – meaning I can surf the blogosphere while the asphalt passes beneath me. What a world we live in!

Audiobooks: In recent years, Dan and I have discovered the wonders of audiobooks – particularly audiobook versions of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series, as read by the amazing Will Patton. Why, just today, we listened to Burke’s fourth Robicheaux novel, A Stained White Radiance – and it was awesome indeed.

Have you ever experienced lengthy car trips? If so, what do you do to fight the boredom?

10 comments:

Becky said...

I got DH a GPS car navigator last Spring for Father's Day. Those things are great! We gave up our Sirius subscription, and I miss it. Don't have wireless on the laptop, but do have lots of computer games for the kids, and videos for them to watch. I usually read (or drive), DH sleeps ;-). We also started playing "slap bug"... when you see a VW bug, slap your neighbor and yell out the color. Of course in Michigan we have to substitute an American car, as there is a severe lack of VW's up here...

Deb@RGRamblings said...

We listen to music and sing. I always take a pen and notepad, never know when inspiration will hit for a character or setting description. How cool to have internet while you're on the road!

I totally get the directionally challenged thing. I usually have to turn the map around so it's facing 'the right way' :) Happy trails!

Laura Martone said...

Becky - Yeah, I bet computer games and videos help when you travel with kids. But how do you entertain the dog? P.S. BTW, I love "slap bug" - although my high school boyfriend and I used to call it "punch bug" instead. You can imagine how it differed.

Deb - Yippee! I sing, too - glad I'm not the only one who does that. ;-) And, yes, I always have a notebook at the ready. P.S. Here's to the directionally challenged everywhere!

Becky said...

Most of the time, the dog is the best traveler in the car... doesn't complain, never asks to stop for the bathroom, and never asks "Are we there yet?". Hope your travel is going well.

Bane of Anubis said...

Audiobooks, geography game (or any version of it), GHOST, man... I feel for you... I hate driving for an hr, much less 12 - 16/day.

Laura Martone said...

Becky - LOL! I know what you mean. The kitty is the best traveler, too. Just naps in her carrier and sips water from her trough every now and again. What a cutie.

Bane - Yeah, I'm beginning to think that these long-ass drives aren't quite as exciting as they used to be. Hey, an airboat just went by on a trailer! The swamp's definitely getting closer.

Becky said...

Don't tell me you drive straight through!

Laura Martone said...

Well, we do it in two days... which almost feels like driving straight through! But last night, we actually stayed in Slidell in order to see my dad this morning, before heading into New Orleans.

Becky said...

Oh yeah, that's right... you don't have kids to slow you down. We barely do the drive in 3 days, so I figured you must have booked. I forgot you can do it in 2 w/o kids... Glad you're there safe!

Laura Martone said...

Well, Becky, I don't recommend doing it in two days like us weirdos... but once we get on the road to New Orleans, we get antsy to get there already.

I've even had some raw oysters today. Ooh-la-la!