I really love a road trip. What’s not to love? Cram yourself into a car with some good friends or family members, some car snacks and good music on the stereo, head for the open road and leave your familiar surroundings behind you for a bit. Alternatively, get in the car with just yourself and do the same. Many an adventure can be had on a road trip and I’ve been on a fair few.
There was the car journey to Edinburgh for the last weekend of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that began mid afternoon because I had just come off a night shift. My brother came with me and we planned to take the A1(M) so that we could gaze upon the stunning views of seas and hills and the Angel of the North as we drove. Except that by the time we got that far north, it was dark. Dark and foggy. We arrived in Edinburgh at 2am, hungry and grumpy and exhausted. We did indeed see a sign for the Angel of the North and so we gazed upon the darkness where the sign was pointing. To this day I still have not seen it.
There was the drive across Tennessee last year, from Nashville to Memphis, with my friend Erica. We sang Walking in Memphis until we began to annoy ourselves. The journey takes 4 hours if you drive direct, but we were hellbent on driving via a tiny town called Paris which was that week playing host to the ‘world’s largest’ fish fry festival. We got there after 9 hours of driving down dirt roads and getting lost, and there was a single tent by the side of the road boasting catfish. But it didn’t open for another 3 hours.
Also worth a mention is my solo road trip from London to the Lake District in a battered old Nissan Micra that noone believed would make it further than Coventry. It did, but by the time I got to Cumbria and realised that Cumbria is massive and I still had 3 hours of driving to do, I wanted to drive it off a mountain.
I don’t know what it is about road trips that I love so much. The odd adventures and quirks play a part in it. The service stations you stop at along the way and weird and wonderful things you can find there. The music, the snacks, the brown tourist attraction signs you see by the side of the motorway (my favourite is on the M4 just before Newport in Wales. It says ‘Big Pit’. Then it says ‘Big Pit’ in Welsh. There is no explanation as to what sort of big pit it is) all play a part. But really I think it’s just the sense of freedom I feel almost immediately after leaving my town and driving off into the sunrise. There’s nothing like it. All troubles just seem to melt away.
If I could find a way to spend my entire life on road trips then I would. If I could somehow make a profession out of this then I’d be out the door right now. Maybe one day I’ll compile a book of awesome road trip experiences (I’m sure some already exist) but until then, I’ll keep having them and finding new ways to experience this classic vacational genre. Movies have been made and road trip blogs exist, but there’s just nothing quite like going out there and doing it for yourself. Grab some friends who can share the driving, get some bad-for-you food (I recommend Maoam and also Minstrels), turn the volume up (or just listen to as much Radio Two as you can cram into your brain once all the regional radio stations lose signal) and get going.
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