Not Driving to Arizona

Leisure driving isn’t tied to a particular income bracket in the same way as falconry or scuba diving since it can be either cheaper or more expensive than the alternative of flight.  I drove to Dallas in September since gas was relatively cheap, as was my time due to still being on a furlough from work and the plane ticket on short notice would have been over $500.  That trip was 3200 miles of largely grade A American highway peppered with the bare concrete strips that are becoming the hallmark of US routes in the midwest with their manifold speed changes and stop lights.

Visiting the White Sands Missile Base and its semi-visible history lent itself to flying being both cheaper in terms of time and money than driving but at the cost of the road experience.  Beyond daydreaming, the pounding visual rhythms of street lights and road markings in urban areas and the directionless wrap of night or sky or field or forest in a rural area both blur to a smear of reality when one is going north of 70 mph which induces road reflection, the antipode of road rage.  The introvert is alone with his or her thoughts causing comfort while the extrovert is alone with being alone with his or her thoughts causing anxiety.  This latter option can best be compared to being in a room with a corpse; you’re the only person there, but I’d hesitate to say you were alone.

Some would consider it understatement to say that I don’t mind driving long distances.  As I think I’ve said before, once I realized I could get beyond the Mississippi or to the Florida pan handle in a day, America became a much more intimate country where there’s a 50% chance or so that I could visit anyone drawn at random from the decennial census in under 12 hours.  I also think that I probably won’t see gas cheaper than $3.50 a gallon for the rest of my life so driving is a “do it now while it’s cheap” proposition.

Me:  *Walking out the door* See you Monday, Dave.
Dave: Where are you going?
Me: The Trinity test site, where a bit more than 65 years ago a device simply referred to as “the gadget” launched radioactive fall out into the atmosphere and America into the nuclear age.
Dave: Well, drive safe.
Me: I’m not driving for once.  It’s like 2800 miles each way, that’s 600 dollars in gas.
Dave: I’ll let you off this time.
Me: I’m trying to convince someone to drive to San Francisco, does that make up for it?
Dave: Only just.

This wasn’t the only conversation of this type I had today.  My boss and my local superviser were both under the impression that I was driving to New Mexico and Southern California.