Thursday, December 10, 2015

On the Evening Tide, December 2015

Standard operating procedure for road trips:  (1) get up at the crack of dawn; (2) pack car; (3) hit the road by 7:30 (original intent: 7:00, but packing car took longer than you thought); (4) make good time; (5) get to X (city, state) by Y o’clock.   But if getting there is some meaningful percentage, up to and including half, the fun, then why begin with an alarm clock and a mad rush?

I prefer analogizing the road trip to the age of sail.  Ships would  set sail on the evening tide.  The day was spent loading provisions, cargo and passengers in daylight—bustling, to be sure—and the evening tide would float the ship out of the harbor until it could catch the wind on the open sea.  Since the ship was its own hotel, there was no need to get to the Holiday Inn Express by nightfall.

Okay, so we will pull in to the West Des Moines Hilton Garden in by around 9:30, when our eyelids and limbs get droopy.  But before that, a day bustling, but not crazy. Pick up car from body shop around 2:00 (having backed into a pole the Friday before), put on the ski rack, packed six months worth of stuff into the back, incredibly, without occluding the driver’s rear view, backing out of the driveway (without mishap) at 4:00, then a couple of stops in town.  Then picking our way through early rush hour traffic under a bruise-colored sky, then the suburban highway, then breaking out onto the open road at dusk. Crossing the city limits of Madison, whose shore won’t see again for a long while, I think that trading six months of my well-known life for whatever lies just beyond the horizon was a good trade. The ribbon of road ahead curves and fades into darkness over a small rolling rise, the dashed lane markers like whitecaps.