Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Road Trip

A little Road Music, 2010

I had to go to Atlanta last week. Normally, this would involve a flight or two and an afternoon of waiting at the airport, going through security, jostling for overhead space and so on. But I had intermediate stops, so I decided to make a road trip of it.

We Bonneys are big fans of road trips. When you travel on planes, it’s all about the taking off and the landing. If all goes well, there’s not much to the in between. Road trips, on the other hand, get you where you’re going and throw in the opportunity for adventure along the way.

If you’re a fan of Larry McMurtry, you know that the sage of Archer City, Texas, is also a fan of road trips. He even wrote a book about it, Roads: Driving America’s Great Highways. I can’t say this is one of McMurtry’s best works. It’s mostly a meandering string of stray thoughts you’d have if you were driving and didn’t have anything better to think about. But if like McMurtry, this book will prove that even if he’s just talking about going for a ride the writing style can still be delicious.

McMurtry likes to rent big cars, stretch his legs and get out on the highway from time to time. His favorite roads are interstate highways. He doesn’t seem to care so much about where they go, just that he gets on the big highways and goes.

I’m more of a Blue Highways road tripper. Interstates will get you from place to place more quickly. But they’re too consistent and antiseptic and much more about speed than I usually want to be when I’m traveling. What’s the use of going somewhere, I reason, if you can’t see what it’s like along the way?

Traveling from Virginia Beach to Atlanta doesn’t give you too many options if you have to make the trip in a single day. You have a choice of interstates and the only stretch of state highway that offers any relief is a sad stretch that both starts and ends the trip. After that, you have either I-95, which follows the coast and requires a dogleg swing to the west once you get into Georgia, or I-85, which follows a southwesterly direction that if you stay with it’s various connections long enough will eventually land you in New Orleans.

My drive down I-85 was mostly uneventful, which isn’t necessarily bad, but still lived up to just about every adjective I can think of to describe dull interstate highway driving. I don’t drink coffee and can’t have sugary soft drinks. So I occupied myself on the ten hours down and the ten hours back listening to podcasts and music. Thanks to the podcasts, I’m an expert on a lot of things that took place last week, which is probably about where their relevance ends. (I did, though, listen to actor Michael Imperioli read a great Stephen King short story, “Popsy,” on Selected Shorts.

When I switched on the radio occasionally, I couldn’t seem to find much on the dial that didn’t sound so canned that it could been have played in any part of the country. I did listen for a few minutes to a Pentecostal sermon, something about carrying God’s luggage, but turned that off when I realized that I must have missed the important part about why God’s travel plans mattered to me.


  1. Oh, yeah! Gotta' love a road trip! I could drive anywhere if it's not in crazy one-way-streets-city-traffic. Nothing better than the open road, though, if it's new territory, for me. If I'm in a rental, I try to get a car that has satellite radio; otherwise it's my iPod. I do love my iPod...

    Carrying God's luggage, eh? Some of those radio stations on the road are amazing...

  2. There is an interesting alternative to 95: US 1

    That's the old road to Florida. I haven't been on it for years, but it goes through amazing old towns with the remnants of the old roadside attraction business that 95 killed still there in places.

  3. you need XM satellite radio.....plenty of channels to choose from and some pretty cool music that you'll want to go out and download after hearing..........you've read "Travels with Charley" I'm sure........nice observations....I especially love the water tower shaped as a peach just after you cross into Georgia.......

  4. If you wanna cool water tower, you gotta see the one I grew up next to. The W.L.C.B.


    Well, okay. "Grew up" is an arguable term. Mrs. Donour sez it never happened. Mrs. Donour, the spouse, that is.

    Come to think of Mrs. Donour, the mater might agree. She seems to think I’m perennially fourteen.