Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weekend Assignment #358: Zoom Zoom

Ack! Forgot it was Wednesday!

Weekend Assignment # 358: Drive
Is driving something you actually enjoy doing, or is it merely a means to an end? Do you ever go for a drive for fun, or revel in certain kinds of driving? 
Extra Credit: If time and money were not at issue, and you wanted to go somewhere 500 miles away, would you prefer to drive, be driven, take a train or fly? (Okay, you can also choose to go by boat.)

This topic came about because a) my commute to my new job is 38.2 to 41.3 miles each way, depending on the route, and b) I was about to drive to Los Angeles solo on Friday night, stay over Saturday night and drive back Sunday night. The distance from home to the LAX Marriott was 510 miles, but I was leaving directly from work and stopping off near work on the way back. That's just 475 miles each way.

So how do I feel about that long morning drive? Well, if I could get a full night's sleep first, and if gas weren't going up in price almost daily, I wouldn't mind it at all. In fact I kind of enjoy it. Driving is a game, in which the object is to arrive safely but also quickly, and without drawing a traffic ticket by going too fast or doing anything stupid.

And sometimes there are fun things to see, and possibly even photograph, sticking a camera out the window while keeping eyes firmly on the road. Sometimes it's a sunrise or sunset, mountains or desert, a blimp or a hot air balloon.

Other times it's about the vehicles, like this Breast Cancer Awareness cement mixer. Amazing!

I am having trouble wrenching my sleep schedule toward early to bed and early to rise, but yes, for now I'm mostly enjoying the drive.

And I pretty much actively chose to drive the 1,000+ miles (actually over 1,100 on the trip counter) last weekend. It's true there weren't many options, though. Airfare would have been over $200, and would have meant getting another night's hotel stay. It also would have required me to procure transportation between the Marriott, where the convention was held, and the Travelodge a mile or two away. Rooms at the Marriott, if available at all, would have cost more than twice what I paid. Rail service between Tucson and Los Angeles is only a few times a week, and completely incompatible with a weekend trip west.

But it doesn't matter, because I like the drive. I have my traditional stops and landmarks: Picacho Peak, with a choice of old and new truck stops; Toltec Road, about a third of the way to Phoenix and site of a Carl;s Jr.; The option to take the "southern route" on I-8 between Casa Grande and San Diego, or maybe just to Gila Bend; the IKEA in Guadalupe AZ outside Phoenix; the nuclear power plant and the state prison;  mountains that look like piled rocks, sometimes topped by windmills; and the Wheel Inn in Cabezon, home of a brontosaurus, a T-Rex and now a robot dinosaur museum. Depending on which route I choose, I either stop at a rest area where I once saw a bobcat at dawn, or drive past the city where the transmission on my Capri died en route to an interview with Scott Bakula. I love it.

Mind you, I didn't love going to work on one hour's sleep on Monday morning!


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