A week ago, I was stressing out about all the stuff I haven’t done yet on my “before I go” list. Over the last seven days, I’ve managed to sell off two of the remaining big-ticket items (guitar and bike), get some insurance quotes for the trailer, start changing my address on the millions of places it lives online, and pare down even more the pile of things that is going with me on the outbound leg.
A week and a day out from departure for Quebec City, and I’m kind of mellowed out. I’m out of time to sell anything more on Craigslist (not around this final weekend due to a wedding in LA). I’ve packed everything I can until the last minute stuff goes in next Friday and Saturday. I’ve decided on the insurance options and all I have to do is call to confirm them, and then print out the paperwork.
I’ve mentally walked around my soon-to-be rig and checked the list of things I need: jack pads, wheel chocks, leveler, wheel lock, hitch lock, cable lock for the propane tank. I look at what I’ve already put in the wayback of the Subaru and calculate how much more I can fit in there and what will go in the middle row (probably bedding and stuff that if people see it, they won’t care enough to steal it).
Next Saturday, I will get up early, put the last of the stuff in the car, and…
Oh, who am I kidding? I am not going to sleep a wink between Friday night and Saturday morning. If I could, I would just start driving Friday at 5PM but then I’d miss a lot of scenery in the dark. And road trips are all about the scenery for me. So I will wait out the darkness until the first sliver of light shades the inevitable Seattle clouds to a lighter shade of grey and then make my getaway. I’ve got a date in Spokane for lunch, and a hotel in Missoula anytime after 4PM. Between Seattle and Missoula is a lot of miles, some good tunes lined up on the player, and a lot of time to think.
Road trips are meditation for me. I think when I drive, working out my own issues or trying to puzzle out an answer to something big that seems unsolvable. Or I just look out the window and try to pay attention to the sides of the road. The photographer in me is always ready to take a quick stop for the right shot.
This will be a hard road trip for me, though, and I know it up front. This will be the first road trip where I can’t call my dad and catch up and when I realize that, I start to cry. I won’t hear him ask me how it’s going and what I saw that day. I won’t be able to tell him what Glacier National Park looks like, or how flat North Dakota really is or how big Lake Superior looks when you’re standing at the edge of it. He won’t be able to see Breeze or look at pictures of the factory tour. I’m 60 but it feels like I’m going solo for the first time, no parent of any kind to report back to at the end of a long day. I know I’m lucky to have had them as long as I did, where we got past the awkward phases and just enjoyed hanging out with each other. And there was no more fun with my dad than hanging out on a road trip.
As I walked off some pre-trip nervous energy tonight, it started to rain on me and that made me remember our last real road trip, to Vancouver Island, BC. My planned tour of the western side of the island was a disaster of a day; it poured so hard that it felt like the two of us were marooned on some crazy water planet. Every time my dad leaned forward to turn the heater up, I felt worse. I finally broke the silence to apologize for not doing a better job of checking the weather forecast. He was quiet for a while, and then he turned to me with that trademark little twinkle in his eye and said “Well, we *are* in a rain forest.” Good point, old man.
My dad was always up for seeing someplace new. One time I had to go back to the Palm Springs airport from his place in Hemet and he suggested we go “the back way” over the mountains. We ended up on a two hour roller-coaster of a ride, with winding roads, plenty of places to test the paddle shifters on his new Dodge Dart, and a killer view of Palm Springs at the halfway point.
My dad could make any destination into an adventure. That’s what I’ll try to remember as I click off the miles this trip. I can’t tell him about any of it, so I’ll tell you. Stay tuned…