“What, you can’t splurge for the plane ticket?”
The more I explained my travel intentions, the more perplexed my coworker became as to why I would choose to haul myself 780 miles via the highway rather than take to the skies. This past June marked the third time in as many years that I made the trek from Chicago to attend Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE. (If you’re not familiar, it’s quickly becoming one of the finest festivals in the country, but that’s a different story for a different day).
“It’s just a part of it,” was all I could honestly respond with. It then dawned on me how little I had actually entertained the idea of flying to Dover, despite the obvious time saving factor. Is the drive there more enjoyable than the drive back? No, I think they’re both created equa...Bullshit, of course it’s better. At least a little bit.
If the debate is between:
1) Counting down the miles until we reach the weekend celebration we’ve anticipated like the batman themed birthday party you thought you’d never get when you were seven years old
2) Chipping away at that fleeting sense that we’re still on vacation while turning our rental Kia Sorrento into a rolling petri dish of Cheese-Its, sweat and sleep deprivation...
...well you get the idea.
It’s important. And it’s cliche. But it’s also brilliant and rewarding, so let me use adjectives and channel my inner Jack Kerouac for a minute. What I love most about a true road trip is the sense of control that comes with it. Rather than surrender my time and resources over to the world of TSA security checks, overpriced tickets and crying babies, I’d rather put myself literally in the driver’s seat. There’s a reason phrases like ‘take the wheel’ are used to reference seizing control of a situation.
You want to leave before the sun comes up? Let's do it.
Have an ‘early AM driving lets hit the road but not Van Halen yet because it’s early’ playlist? Cue it up.
Want to stop in Pittsburgh for some Dairy Queen because I have a gift card and we deserve it? Damn right you do.
Of course challenges will present themselves, however decisions can be left to the democratic majority of the vehicle, rather than an airline or anyone else.
Coordinating bathroom breaks and gas stops is an art form, so here’s to big bladders and moderate levels of hydration. Weather delays are in the eye of the beholder. Even in a torrential downpour, anything is manageable with an attentive co-pilot and a handful of Haribo Gummi Bears.
So there we were - with roughly 14 hours, 800 miles and a night camping in a thunderstorm behind us, we had put new feathers in our American traveler caps. Although rather than joining Yankee Doodle and calling that feather ‘macaroni’, we called it things like “a lot of fun but definitely kind of a bitch” to our sympathetic fellow festival goers upon learning of our journey. We had made it. And after a weekend of raucous living and musical euphoria thanks to our friends at Firefly and Red Frog Events, we made it back home just in time to wash the grime off of us. But what proud, accomplished grime it was.
Check out my song "Co-Pilot" which I wrote to commemorate the trip. It features samples of about 15 raw car sounds that I recorded during the drive and turned into the groundwork for an instrumental diddy. I've been told it sounds like something from a spy-movie soundtrack and I'm more than okay with that. Enjoy.