Road Trip 101, or the Wasatch Dairy Farm

I’m back…..

A and I took a 2 ½ week road trip, during which I intended to post occasional nuggets from the road that wended its way up through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, and then back down to North Carolina.

Well, the road trip to anywhere is paved with good intentions, I guess – but the funkiness of our travel laptop and the quirky, slow Internet access we encountered along the way blew the likelihood of blog posting right out the car window.

But here’s the real deal: I didn’t write one. single. word. during our entire trip. Not one. (Except for mileage logs and where and when we stopped along the way.) The closest I came to a literary experience was spending two days in Maine a half-mile from where Stephen King’s Pet Sematary was filmed.

While all the definitions of vacation fit the trip – seeing new places, visiting old friends and family, changing the pace and rhythm of life – this describes my vacation mindset the best: the act or instance of vacating.

That’s it. Old thoughts, ideas and words vacated my mind. They fled the premises and left all this empty space in my brain for – what?

New thoughts, new words, new directions. Paradigm shift? Planetary alignment? I’m still figuring out what happens when your brain empties out, hits ‘re-set’ and comes up with something different, something unexpected.

Yesterday I was telling a friend about our trip and she projected, “And I’ll bet it felt good to get home, too.”

Well, no, as a matter of fact.

We’d run out of clean clothes, so we were happy to use the washer and dryer. And Polly and Lola had stayed home with a house sitter, so it was great to see the furballs. But if we could figure out a way to travel with them comfortably in the summer, we’d be on the road again as soon as the clothes were dry.

Antsy. Restless.

So, uh, isn’t Tap Dancing at the County Fair supposed to be about a road trip toward self-knowledge? Am I living my novel right now, but without the distance or perspective to write it, or know how it should end?

I was emptying one of the travel bags I’d taken on the road, and found a pile of change in the bottom of one of its zippered pockets: four quarters and three pennies.

Plus this: a funny little metal coin with scalloped edges and a star cut out of the center. WASATCH DAIRY FARM it says on one side; “Good for *1* Quart of Milk” on the other.

Huh? I never heard of the Wasatch Dairy Farm. Neither did Google. The closest a search came up with was a town in Utah. I haven’t been to Utah since a road trip in the early 1970’s, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t visit any dairy farms then. And I bought the bag maybe ten years ago at a Crate & Barrel outlet store in Massachusetts. Where did this rural talisman come from?

So here I am, a couple of days after our road trip, filled with extreme wanderlust, thoughts and words careening around the empty caverns of my mind, waiting to be arranged or re-arranged into something approaching sense, or at least amusing nonsense.

Maybe it’s time to start writing.

And then head off again in search of that free quart of milk.

11 comments to Road Trip 101, or the Wasatch Dairy Farm

  • I love road trips. I’ve lived from one end of this country to the next and arrived by car each time. The other day I had a stray thought about how I had failed my kids by never taking them on a cross-country road trip. They’ve never traveled by car for more than an 8-10 hour trip. Shame on me, it’s like the ultimate childhood memory and I’ve deprived them of it. Of course, I justified it with the excuse of how I’ve saved their lives, because I would kill them if I had to spend that much time with the three of them in a car. 😉
    Do tell us how you traveled. Car, travel trailer/moterhome, tent and camping gear, hotel/motels?
    Normally I would excuse the Dairy token as mistaken change from a cashier but it seems much bigger that a quarter.
    I remember when I was a kid and cashiers would sneak me that little Canadian dime in with my change. That Canadian dime naturally became useless because nobody would take it back and it didn’t work in vending machines. Then I moved to Alaska and was pleasantly surprised to find Canadian coins interchangeable with US coins.
    The things you learn when you travel. 🙂
    Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I’m glad you had a good time, and I wish for you, a new venture soon.

    • Natasha

      I suspect, Dayner, that you have NOT failed your kids, road trip or no. There’s still plenty of time to take them on one if you want to listen to ‘Are we there yet?’ in three parts.

      We traveled by car and stayed in hotels/motels when we weren’t with friends/family. I’m still mourning the demise of A’s old VW camper and would love it if someone would make a nice, small, simple, fuel-efficient camper van, but I’m not seeing anything like that, at least in the US. We spent a bunch of time in the mountains on some extremely skinny winding mountain roads with no guardrails, so I’m glad for that part of the trip that we were in a small car! We never would have been able to do those roads in anything big. But we may need something a tad larger for traveling with Ms. Lola Cat. We’ll see….

  • A mystery! Maybe your mystery coin is representative of something deep like a misplaced memory or a secretive double life. Run with it!

    I completely understand that feeling when you get home from a road trip and find that the comfort of home feels secondary to the escape from everyday reality. Our last road trip started in Florida, went through Alabama, then Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and back into Florida. Five minutes after being home, I wanted to throw clean clothes in the rented car and head back out again. I think it was because I appreciated the freedom from my daily responsibilities and the routine that is a part of my orderly life.

    My husband and I plan to do a lot of traveling once the boy is grown. Maybe by then I’ll be a published poet or author and we can use appearances, lectures and signings as our excuse to hit the road and write every bit of our travel off our taxes!

    • Natasha

      You nailed it, DS — I love the freedom from routine that a road trip brings. We’re pretty free-form with our trips and don’t have much of a pre-planned agenda so it feels especially freeing. And, yeah, the clothes are clean now and I’m ready to head right back out the door.

      Well, I will most certainly be at your guest appearances and book signings in North Carolina! Looking forward to them!

  • I’m glad to hear of your fine trip. My goodness, you covered a lot of ground in your time away. All the way to Maine and back!

    I think it’s great that you emptied your brain. I imagine it’s similar to cleaning house and I love the feeling I have when that’s accomplished. Now you can refill it with fresh, new thoughts and ideas.

    I truly enjoyed this post and surely hope you follow your instincts and “start writing.”

    • Natasha

      Thanks, Shaddy. Hmmm, cleaning house and emptying my brain. I’ll have to think on that one a bit, but I think I prefer the act of emptying my brain through a road trip to the act of cleaning my house. But I know what you mean about clearing out the old so there’s room for the new. It’s a good feeling.

  • Welcome back to the blogosphere! You were missed! Sounds like you had a great trip and experienced a true vacation of mind, body and soul. Plus there is a new a mystery to solve!
    I think it is protocol upon returning from a vacation (especially a wonderful one) to begin planning the next one. Perhaps it should be to Utah. There may be more to it than just a quart of milk.

    • Natasha

      Thanks! Yeah, I really need to think about this mysterious Wasatch Dairy Farm a bit…. This may be the start of something udderly new for me. (get it?)

      We’ll probably wait until after hurricane season for our next trip, but who knows?

  • Welcome back and if you do head out again, I hope you can check in once in awhile. You were missed.

    I’ve never taken a road trip. I’ve driven across country twice, but we were in a moving truck so we only drove, ate, slept, drove, ate, slept from one place to the other.

    I have to tell you, my imagination perked up at the tale of the mysterious milk token. What if … ?

    • Natasha

      Linda, let your imagination run wild with the Wasatch Dairy Farm! And if you come up with anything good, let us all know.

      Road trips are my absolute favorite kind of vacation. I love seeing mostly rural parts of the country and just talking with random people at the diner or gas station or at the Scenic Overlook along the road.

  • […] where am I with my Creativity Workshop goals, my One Story Per Week plan? I’ve already admitted that I didn’t write a single word during my vacation. My bad. But I do have a couple of […]

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