Did any of you ever go on a road trip when you were younger? Do you remember what it was like the first time you were able to just drive off into the wind and know that you were about to experience something new and different? It didn’t have to be a long trip or a trip that changed your life or spiritual outlook on the world. It might have been to the next town over or into the mountains for a camping adventure. It could have been to your first concert in a major city or to finally see a monument, building or piece of artwork in person. Whatever the case might have been and whatever brought you there, there was something about packing up for the week or weekend and driving off that brought forth a sensation of anticipation and excitement.
I have driven back and forth across the United States several times and each time the trip has been its own unique journey. Even if I take the same interstates or stay in the same cities, there is always something different or something that I have not seen previously waiting to surprise me along the way. Perhaps the “great unknown” (as it was once described to me) is what compels us travelers to continue doing what we do. Perhaps that is why we have such an itch to travel to begin with.
Because we have such fast ways to travel vast distances these days, I think we often forget just how expansive even our own world can truly feel. It is easy just to skip from one point to another and view our trip as a beginning and an end, a departure and an arrival. But there is more to travel than just the ends or the means, and road trips illustrate point that very well. There are places and things that you simply cannot see by plane. There are destinations you cannot reach via commercial air travel. As much as we have progressed with technology in transportation, sometimes a good drive and a long walk are still necessities in order to see what lies around the corner.
Road trips embody what really fuels us as travelers – the mystery of not knowing exactly what will happen in life. Road trips, and travel in general, are about the unexpected and the unknown. If we knew everything that was going to happen to us in life, if we knew what to expect at every turn and at every place that we visited, there would be no point to travel aside from the basic functions of business and maintaining the infrastructure of the world. There would be no fun, no excitement.
There would be no unknown or adventure.
Of course, with gas prices higher than there were twenty years ago, and the cost of many things in the world increasing year by year, living life as one big road trip is a practical impossibility. I know that time is a resource and commodity that many of us lack in great quantity. Life can be busy. Work can be demanding. Families have needs. For these reasons, it is much harder to plan and execute a successful road trip as one gets older and as time progresses. But at least for those of us who were lucky enough to take one or two of these fascinating trips in our lives, we understand precisely the feeling that I am attempting to convey today.
And even if you do not, you should never discount the possible of packing up the car and driving off into the sunset in the future.
After all, what would life be without a few surprises to look forward to along the way?