“Road trip.” Are there any two words in the English language that conjure up more excitement, more romance or more mystique than these two? Of course there are! Don’t be stupid.
Be that as it may, the road trip is a venerable American institution – one that I enjoyed with friends as a young, single man, and that Liz and I have pursued for more than a quarter-century as a couple.
Of course, the nature and color of road trips have changed since we first loaded up my Honda Civic and headed for a tequila-fueled lost weekend in Santa Fe. They took a turn toward the posh when we got married, and they’ve gotten even softer since.
Naturally, our interests have changed over the ensuing decades. But more than that, our requisites for a comfortable trip have evolved. We’re not just older; we’re also more discriminating (and by that, I mean picky).
Our latest road trip was last weekend; along with another couple, we rented a cabin in the Texas Hill Country and set off for three days of fun, relaxation and overindulgence. Comparing my single-guy “then” to my domesticated “now” — especially the lengths to which we will go today to ensure our comfort — highlights either how far I’ve come or how much I’ve slipped. Your call.
Then: Someone already claimed the bed? Cool – I’ll take the sofa. That’s taken, too? How about the floor? OK, no worries – I can always sleep in the car (and when I say, “sleep,” I mean, “pass out.”)
Now: We travel with our own pillows, and one trip was very nearly ruined when someone (no names, please) forgot to pack our 600-thread count Egyptian cotton pillowcases.
Then: My beer? Check. Your beer? Check. Think we need more beer? Better safe than sorry, I say. Let’s toss in a couple of bottles of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill, just in case we run into some sophisticated chicks we want to impress.
Now: Beer? Seriously? What, are we still in college? How about a 12-year-old single malt Scotch, and a couple of bottles of Veuve Clicquot for the ladies (turns out only high-school stoner boys like Boone’s Farm).
Then: See “Beverages – Then.”
Now: Fat-free Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and organic hemp/flax seed granola, plus a small cardboard box for fiber.
Then: A balance of the four major food groups: beer, donuts, tacos, and beer. Also, Slim Jims if we wanted to splurge.
Now: Salmon farm-raised in a lake of unicorn tears and then gently euthanized, teamed with organically-grown vegetables, artisanal bread and hand-churned butter, with gluten-free chocolate cake for dessert (not that any of us actually has a problem with gluten; we just like to stay au courant).
Then: Hit the pool, dudes – it’s time for the gun show. This is where a winter spent in the gym doing nothing but dumbbell curls really pays off.
Today: A little yoga and/or tai chi before breakfast, followed by a five-mile hike, and then a nap. After happy hour, it’s time to cook dinner, enjoy a cup of good cheer before the fire with friends, and then off to bed (and somebody better have brought the pillowcases, or it’s gonna get ugly).
Then: Remember the part in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Hunter S. Thompson inventories the contents of the trunk of his car? ‘Nuff said.
Now: The massive quantities and staggering variety are still there, but instead of looking like a DEA evidence locker, our trunk now resembles the crash cart in a geriatrics ward.