The Road, Not By Cormac McCarthy
There are two kinds of people in the world.
Actually there are many kinds of people—but for the purposes of this blog, let’s narrow it down to two. The ones who love the journey and the ones who endure the journey to get to the destination.
I’m the second one.
In other words, when I go somewhere—like to the recent Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) event I attended in Lancaster, Pa., in early September—I view the experience as three separate events:
- I’m at home, doing all the logistical stuff I need to do before I can go.
- I’m at the Amethyst Inn, where I stayed during the event. Lovely place. If you go, stay in the Ruby Suite.
- I’m home again, settling back into the routine that is the daily life of Tom Hoover, writer of blogs and books and stuff.
The road doesn’t call to me. I don’t get or want “white line fever,” and I think Kerouac was nuts. I’m more interested in the Star Trek version of travel, where you atomize in one location and simultaneously recombine at your destination. All the advantage of being somewhere else without the drudgery of getting there.
Why am I the road-trip naysayer?
So glad you asked.
The short answer is that to attend, I had to drive 13 hours over a three-day span for a three-hour event. I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the event, so I didn’t even get the full three hours. Betrayed by the road and my own bladder.
Actually my bladder was not much of a friend on the trip at all. I vividly remember one twisty section of mountain road where it decided I couldn’t wait for the next rest stop and had to pull over and hide between my car and the guardrail to go while the slipstream from each passing truck threatened to blow the car and me over the steep embankment.
And don’t get me started on the tunnels. Like most writers, I have a bouquet of phobias, and claustro was in full flower as I drove under six mountains, one of which kept me underground for a mile … thinking about car wrecks and earthquakes the whole time.
Oh yeah, and the map lies. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is all hills and mountains and twists and turns. So what looks “a little crooked” on Google Maps is really a series of tight “Ss,” that you can’t take at the speed limit or you’ll fly off into the side of a cliff or over one. And the trip took much longer than planned because even though the speed limit is 70, you only can achieve that on the straight sections of road—unfortunately there were twists and turns every hundred yards or so.
Taking a breath now.
My point? Simple.
Getting there isn’t half the fun. Being there is all the fun. The only fun!
Who’s up for a Star Trek vacation?