Wednesday, February 24, 2016

In America, we do road trips.

Road trips are a quintessential American vacation. Open roads, spectacular scenery and the ubiquitous McDonald's make for memorable experiences. I usually avoided road trips as it violated my law of travel. "Time spent at a place should be greater than twice the total time spent in transit in a car/plane/train. Time spent sleeping is not counted." And then there are the annoyances of driving, which I'll get to after extolling the merits of a road trip. But this time, since I had the time and a car which I have to get rid off after driving only 40k miles, I decided to do a road trip up the west coast.

Cruising along an open highway with the wind on my windshield (sorry, I don't have a convertible) and the music set to Bon Jovi is something one yearns for. Isn't it awesome that approximately 1 day of walking = 1 hr of biking, and 1 day of biking = 1 hr of driving, and 1 day of driving = 1 hr of flying? What an incredible blessing modern technology is. And the spectacular scenery whizzing by makes you feel glad to be alive. This indescribable joy that swells within you. For an instant everything is perfect. You just thank God for the gift of the present. It great to feel free, completely. No emails to worry about, no chores, no appointments. It's magical to wake up every morning and feel a sense of adventure well up from within.

For me, this joy leads to gratitude. And at this point as the farewells have wound down, my mind drifted towards the wonderful friendships I have had in the Bay Area. They say hindsight is 20/20. And truly I saw in retrospect (and after staring at I-5 for 7 hrs straight) the blessing my friends have been. I'm excited about the next phase of my life, but I can't help feeling a strong sense of nostalgia and loss. When everything is done and dusted, what you are left is with are memories. A shout out to all my friends who laughed and cried with me, who put up with my quirks, who let me share my life with them and their life with me. Isn't it ironic that happy memories make for sad farewells? Life moves on. And until we meet again, may God hold them in the palm of his hand.

I pondered on traveling alone v/s traveling with friends. Traveling alone has its perks. A great sense of freedom to choose what and when you'll do with your time. I love photography and sometimes it requires patience, which most non photographers don't understand. Traveling alone gives a lot more time to ponder and reflect on what you see and experience. You learn a lot about yourself and you gain confidence and a sense of independence after a successful solo trip. When you are alone, there's a much higher chance of talking to strangers and getting to know people outside of your daily life. Having said that, I prefer traveling with friends. I love having friends to share the memories and experiences with. Things you can laugh about years later. I love having friends give me pity laughs for my lame jokes. Also, as a team, travel can seem less daunting. But this trip will be mostly solo, because who else gets 6 months to travel?

And as promised earlier, I present the annoyances of driving. The main annoyance of driving are the moronic drivers. There are the left lane campers who believe it is their birthright to be in the left lane, no matter the speed they are traveling at. And there are the high beam gangsters who I think are signalling to their alien overlords in the night sky. What about those people who drive real slow on windy roads (understandable), but never use the turnouts and speed up whenever there is a passing lane? Finally, we have the group that believes blinkers are Christmas lights on their cars and never actually use them while turning or changing lanes. I'm sure there are many more. But I don't want to dwell too much on moronic drivers as it makes me irrationally angry and that leads me to break my lenten promise of being more charitable in my thoughts.

And so the road trip section of my travel ends. Now I downsize from my car to a backpack. The world beckons. Next stop, Hawaii!

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