Road Tripping (Pt. 2)

I am back.  I am still tired.  Perhaps because I decided to end my little adventure with three days in a row of seven plus hours of driving.  I sit a lot when I’m home because I am always on the computer, but sitting for hours on end in a car is a very different experience.

I’m pretty sure there were people who saw me while I was driving and thought “what the?”  Because after a while, driving down the road at 75 miles per hour with no curves in sight, I got a little complacent.  Which meant I put on the cruise control and propped my “clutch foot” up on the dash next to the steering wheel just to mix things up.  Not something I would recommend as a safe driving method.

(I was always that kid in class who insisted on sitting sideways or with my legs tucked up under me or…well, pretty much any way I felt like, which was never straight-backed with both feet on the floor.  I feel very fortunate that I am not a student now.  I suspect I would have been labeled a problem child, when all I really was was a little bored and restless.)

Anyway.  I’m still in a daze, so I don’t think I have it in me to write a well thought out post today.  But some random thoughts I had while driving.

– We live our lives with the assumption that things will work out the way they should.  At least I do.  I have a bad habit of driving down roads that are on the map, but not the recommended route.  Which means that sometimes I end up somewhere that looks like this:

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I was very fortunate that my car did just fine.  But if I’d had a flat tire or hit an antelope (I stopped counting at thirty on this particular road), I would’ve been screwed.

I think most of us, if we really had to stop and think about it, would realize that we live our entire lives based upon the assumption that things will work how they should.  Food will magically appear at the grocery store, electricity will be there to light your home, you’ll be able to access the money you have in the bank, people will put value on that money, etc.

– Which brings me to the second point: infrastructure.  In order for me to drive 3,000+ miles across six states and two countries, the amount of infrastructure that made that possible is staggering.  All the roads that I drove on had to be maintained and kept in a condition that allowed me to drive down them safely at high speeds.  (Bridges, too.  Although I did have to deal with that Washington state bridge that collapsed…)  There had to be gas stations and hotels for me to stay at along the way.  I had to be able to buy food everywhere I went.  The credit card I used to pay for everything had to work.

(Chase did flag a $4 charge at a McDonald’s in Canada as suspicious…really?  $4 at McDonald’s?  Given some of the other charges I’ve made on that card over the years…Well, that’s why I usually have at least two back-up cards when I travel.  Thankfully, by bank thought nothing of approving the charge even though I never use my debit card.)

It’s easy as an American to take all of this support for granted.  Having occasionally wandered my way into remote areas in foreign countries I can assure you it is not always a given.

– I had the thought when I got home last night and was catching up with my blog reading that maybe I now have an inkling of how an author on tour feels.  Changing locations every day.  A new hotel to deal with.  Packing and unpacking over and over.  The only thing I didn’t have to deal with was the need to be a decent and friendly human being for hours each day as I signed my book over and over again.

(I should really do what my brother used to do when he was planning on being a pro ball player and start practicing my author signature, so I can come up with something short and sweet that I can sign over and over without losing my mind…)

(Haha.  I think I have some time before that’s really needed.  Like, say, a decade or two?)

– I stayed with a writer friend for a couple days and I felt like such a slacker.  This friend happens to have full-blown life commitments.  To the point that I don’t even know how they’ve managed to write two novels in the last year, but they did.  And they found an agent and they….yeah.  I should hang my head in shame in comparison.

– I went by my old hometown on the way back.  That was just sad.  It’s been thirty years since I lived there, so obviously things will change.  But the forests that used to rise above my old house were cut down.  And the roads I used to ride my bike along were full of potholes and gravel.  I think it hurt more to see it so neglected than what I thought I was going to see, which was a town that had sold-out to the rich skiers.  Kinda like finding out that your best friend from third grade is dead.  Just an unexpected hurt where you had this assumption that everything was fine.

– I also decided to gamble just a bit before returning home and made $80 playing blackjack and 100-play video poker.  So, my new goal for the year–to make more off of my writing than I did off of playing blackjack.  I think I can do it.  (As long as I don’t go back and play some more–I do tend to win at blackjack and craps.  Hm.  Perhaps a back-up career if this whole writing thing doesn’t pan out…)

I hope your summer/winter is off to a good start and I promise something a little more useful in my next post.


About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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