I’ve been meeting some well-traveled people lately, which has made me wonder how I want to approach my cross-country trip when I’m finally free set out. I could simply go where the spirit moves me, but when I’m on a road trip, where the spirit moves me is generally on down the road. I am destination oriented, and even though I always plan to make stops and take things easily, I drive straight through. One reason I seldom stop is road hypnosis. Another reason is that I worry what would happen if the car wouldn’t start on one of those back roads with no cell towers within range. But if it doesn’t matter where I am — because no matter where I am, there I will be — I might be more willing to stop every few miles or so. But without a set destination, I have a hunch I’d become subject to road hypnosis, and just keep on driving.
One possibility to prevent such mindless driving is to plan the trip. Reserve hotels and motels. Be prepared. But the point of an extended trip is to embrace irresponsibility. (At least to a certain extent. I don’t think I would enjoy being completely reckless.) I’ve always been the responsible one, and when my responsibilities end, I need to become free, spontaneous. Capricious, even.
Another possibility is to decide on a theme for the trip. Some people collect lighthouses, going from one to another, filling in their lighthouse passport books. For some reason, lighthouses have never been that important to me. On the other hand, I’ve fallen in love with piers, especially the long wooden pathways built over the ocean without restaurants, rides, and other amusement. So I could make a circuit around the county, hunting piers.
Or Ferris wheels. Or any number of things: haunted houses, caves, waterfalls, oddities like the Winchester Mansion.
If everything else fails, I could simply hope that one day I would get tired of driving and find somewhere interesting to hang out for a while.
If you were to take an extended theme-based trip, what would you do, where would you go?
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.