Idle Thoughts From Mt. Waas
Road trips...
by Ollie Harris
Mar 14, 2013 | 359 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Just because you go on a trip, and it takes you over roads, doesn’t necessarily make it a road trip. The trip to visit our second son takes us over 500 miles of road but I don’t think of it as a road trip. I view the road to his house rather as an obstacle to be overcome.

A road trip is the extension of a ride, as in, “Hey, Barb, let’s go for a ride this afternoon.” A road trip is all about the going. The destination, if there is one, is incidental, or at best, an excuse.

A difference between a ride and a road trip is the time it takes. The recent ride my son-in-law and I took to Hanksville and back had all of the components of a road trip except that, at a bit over 270 miles, it was too short. A road trip ought to involve at least one night away from home.

A road trip is about the joy of the open road. It is about living without a schedule or deadline. It is about the pleasures of freedom. If there is a little adventure along the way, it is even sweeter.

In 1990, we took a road trip to the Pacific Northwest with our friends, the Peelers, in our 1986 Volkswagen bus. I drove the bus onto a ferry in Seattle that took us out to one of the islands, where we spent a night with Donna’s aunt. We drove northerly on the island and caught another ferry back to the mainland.

We wanted to enter Canada at Blaine, but I couldn’t take my pistol so I carried it down a nearly vertical path toward the sound and stashed it in the bushes. We retrieved the pistol later in the day.

Somewhere in northern California, we made a banner that read, “1234567890.” At noon, we stopped at a roadside picnic area and held the banner in front of us. We counted down the seconds and had our picture taken. Twelve was the hour, 34 was the minutes, 56 was the seconds, 7 was the month, 8 was the day, and 90 was the year.

In about 1998, Barbara and I took a road trip to the Canadian border in the 1994 Dodge. We started back along the route of the Great Divide bicycle trail over which I had ridden the year before. We camped in some of the same places I had been on my bicycle.

More recently, I scratched my itch to travel the entire length of U.S. 191 from Mexico to Canada. We did it on two summer road trips in the 2003 Dodge. First, we went to Arizona and picked up our Peeler friends. We followed Highway 191 all the way to the Mexican border at Douglas, Ariz., where we found mile marker 1.

The following summer, again with the Peelers in the 2003 Dodge, we followed U.S. 191 all the way to the Canadian border. It is possible that the highway runs through the most spectacular country in the nation. There is the low desert near the Mexican border, the gigantic open-pit copper mine at Morenci, the tight pin-hook switchbacks up into the White Mountains, the vast Navajo reservation, beautiful southeastern Utah, Flaming Gorge, Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and the rolling, green plains and Missouri breaks of Montana.

I have been studying maps, fantasizing about another road trip. For me, maps are like the looking glass through which Alice stepped into her wonderland. I become immersed. I am thinking of driving over U.S. 50 across Nevada to Lake Tahoe and Carson City.

Highway 50 across Nevada is supposed to be America’s loneliest highway. It sounds perfect for a road trip.


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