Travel

The fantasy scenario

I can’t remember when the open road first gripped me. In high school I used to take long drives in my beat-up old Ford F250. I’d open a map of the state, point to a random spot and drive there. 
I remember once spotting that Young America is in Minnesota, the place to which I had, as a child, sent off countless proofs of purchase and hard-earned allowance money for the various things offered on the backs of cereal boxes. I jumped in my pickup and sped there full of excitement. I’m not really sure what I was expecting to find, but whatever I was imagining wasn’t there. Young America was home to a General Mills factory and a whole lot of flatness.
I fell more in love with travelling the United States after reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac. When I was 19, my girlfriend and I read it as we drove from upstate New York to Minnesota. I took any number of long journeys thereafter – North Dakota to Massachusetts, Minnesota to Texas, Minnesota to Wyoming, Minnesota to Nevada, Northern Nevada to Southern California, Southern California to Minnesota, and so on. I love the road. I love seeing the landscape slowly change. I love being free.

In 2009, I got a little money from a book I had written and decided to blow it all on a three-month road trip. I rented a car in Boston and drove: Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, a flat tire in Idaho, Seattle, getting stalked by a wolf in Mount Rainier National Park, Portland, Sacramento, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Houston, Austin, back up to Minnesota and back out to Boston with my best friend riding shotgun.

That trip changed my life. It changed who I am. And I am perpetually trying to figure a way that I could carry on a trip like that for a full year: 365 days of freedom. Of course, out of that now comes the desire to travel such distances on a motorcycle: I picture a saddlebag-laden Victory Judge. I would just ride and ride and ride, wandering all 49 continental states and Canada.

But in my motorcycle fantasy there would be no end to the journey. I’d just keep going for as long as I had strength to keep the bike upright. I’m a writer, and I daydream that I could somehow make enough money to sustain such a lifestyle. I’d carry a sleeping bag and tent for camping but would also make use of friends’ hospitality – sleeping on their couches and repaying them by entertaining their kids with motorcycle rides. It would be an easy, wonderful life.

Of course, I’m conveniently forgetting bad weather, and, more importantly, my wife. It’s a fantasy that will never fully come true. But perhaps I can still one day get that bike.