Truths of a road trip:
1. You probably shouldn't stop to pick up the dude who runs out of gas outside of Lovelock, Nevada after tailgating and zooming around you at 90 mph earlier (I didn't stop)
2. Gum and grapes are essential to keep you awake.
3. When you are in the most desolate part of Nevada, the only radio station you will get plays Christian rock or Rush Limbaugh.
4. At some point you will think, I really should have stopped for gas back in Lovelock.
5. When you really have to pee, there will only be this sign: Prison area. No Stopping.
I recently went on a work road trip to Reno and Winnemucca. In fact, I drove the lovely stretch of road between Reno and Winnemucca four times. Good times! Though a work road trip is not the same as a recreational one, there are some similarities. For example, the idea of a road trip is fun until about 100 miles down the road when the reality of it hits. Also, despite your best efforts, you will end up eating food that isn't great for you.
I should know; for a decade I drove between Idaho, California and Florida every six months as a traveling seasonal worker. It was enough to make me swear off road trips forever. Give me an airplane anytime. But for this trip, I decided to drive, thinking I would a) have time to hike; and b) could stop into a hot springs place on the way back. Neither happened--work got in the way, like I should have known it would.
There's a curious state that occurs a few hundred miles into a solo road trip, at least for me. It's almost like a dream state, where you are awake but not, on autopilot, kind of like mile 20 of a marathon. It's the road trip zone. You pass by all the exits, wondering; what really is at Nightingale hot springs, no services? and, oh, Jordan Valley, I had a boyfriend from here, I wonder what happened to him? And, shudder, McDermitt, how do people survive? For me the years blur and I'm back to being twenty, enroute to another national park.
I look at the other people driving and wonder about their lives. So many little satellites circling the nation's arteries. There's somebody with a sign saying, Going to Stanford. So glad I'm not just going to college! There's somebody with skis and a bunch of bikes. Where are they going with both snow and trails? Oh look, firefighters. I used to do that.
Road trips aren't my favorite thing. I tend to avoid them--it's too much sitting and not very interesting. But it's also another way to get down to the essential thoughts, spend some time alone with yourself, wrestle with old love stories, sing loudly and badly, and eat Oreos. Everyone should take a solo road trip once in their life. Just make sure you stop at the hot springs. Don't let work get in the way.