My Predilection for Night-time Road Trips

From a random corner of my mind came the following fleeting thought: I have a thing for road trips undertaken at night. Exempli gratia:

Spring Break 2004. Washington DC to Key West FL, 23 hours, 1305 miles. Best Spring Break ever. The less adventurous of our cohort flew to Florida. My house and the twins’ house, however, decided to drive. We rented a Dodge Grand Caravan (can you imagine a hotter spring break-mobile?) and set out at 5 AM for our date with destiny. Because I like to get suffering over with and because I was most familiar with the DC/VA highways, I drove the first shift. We drove to the twins’ house to pick them up, and Paul was higher than a kite, having not slept (nor really packed) and having smoked more than your average Haight-Ashbury burnout. Logically of course, this means he’s the ideal front-seat passenger for me. I rather enjoyed it, though. Everyone passed out as soon as we got on 95, and I got to play my playlist of cheesy 80s crap without protest. Around 8 AM, Doug took over and dressed the part of the Southern caravan ringleader with bandanna and aviators, taking us past such luminary spots as Cafe Risqué in NC. From there my memory blurs because I passed out, but we did stop at South of the Border, the country’s most racist yet amusing rest stop just south (oddly enough) of the South Carolina Border. Also was had a trip to Subway, at Brendan’s insistence, whereupon the franchise ran out of bread when Brendan went to order. I should mention that Brendan was wearing his “party shirt,” a Ralph Lauren shirt styled with plaids and stripes that only a colorblind sadist could love. We stopped overnight at Cosgrave’s beachfront palace in northern Florida. Well, “stopped overnight” is pushing the term. We arrived at sunset, got chinese food for dinner, partook of the nectar of ethanol, went in the spa and generally made civilized mayhem until 2 AM, when we again set out for the ends of the earth. Sidenote: what wondrous souls are we that a boatload of college students willingly and successfully got up that early two days in a row? I rode shotgun with Justin, and the pre-dawn ride was uneventful, save for an ambulance siren causing Justin’s nuts to withdraw into his sinuses. Undaunted by the unholy hour, we paid a visit to the original Ron Jon surf shop in Cocoa Beach at 4:30 AM. Who knew the place was 24 hour? I bought a pair of sandals (that ended up dying spectacularly on Duval Street before the trip was over) and generally had a good time annoying the staff unused to alert yet senseless patrons at that hour. 7-Elven served as breakfast, with Brendan removing his “party shirt” so as not to dirty it (yes it was still on a day later). I again passed out, waking again at sunrise which left me eerily disoriented, as my brain insisted the sun must be setting since it was doing so over the ocean yet my eyes and the Caravan’s clock told me that it was not yet an hour suitable for life. Paul drove the last kick from Miami and on the Overseas Highway into Key West, which left him lopsidedly sunburnt, kind of like a trucker, but without the cool horn and salary paid on a per-mile basis. Paul drove this stretch despite an avowed aversion for bridges. Since the overseas highway has lots of bridges, one would assume that he had a panic attack and drove us into the Gulf of Mexico. However, said bridges being usually no more than 20 feet off the water, all was well and the caravan arrived unscathed. Throughout the trip there was swapping of reading materials, dares of flashing the “show us your boobs” sign, assorted video recordings, and my iPod got quite a workout, pumping out songs I didn’t even know I had. The actual break in Key West was a time and a half, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say that we more than once drank multiple 24 packs of Natty Light on a street corner without the local or state constabulatory so much as batting an eye. The return trip was quite like the trip down but in reverse: I drove the stint from Key West to Dade County, we stopped at Cosgrave’s again, this time sleeping in until 5 AM, and returned to DC in grand style. There’s just something about a road trip, particularly with people who are quite different from you but indescribably amusing and affable to put one in a Jack Kerouak/”Memory” from Cats mood.

Beach Week in South Carolina. DC to South Carolina, 9 hours, ~600 miles. In the time between the end of finals and graduation, Jen, Irma and I took a long weekend in South Carolina. It’s worth noting that Brent decided not to accompany us because he and I would have to share a bed, which led to Jen haranguing him and eventually dragging out the fact that one of his high school friends had gotten fresh with him one fateful summer night. What a crackhead. Good thing he didn’t come, as my learning of his (unfounded) fears would probably have incited me to fondle him repeatedly just out of spite. But I digress. Because Irma couldn’t leave until Wednesday and because I had to be back to entertain la famiglia on Sunday, we left on Wednesday night following the last of Irma’s meetings. Which ended around 9 PM. We had rested up and such and were quite ready for the saga about to unfold. We set out in my dearly belovèd Edna with me again driving the first stint. For some reason, no matter the hour, Virginians feel compelled to drive at 40 MPH on the Interstate. So I drove along merrily plotting the things I would do to the other drivers given a standard surgical kit and a backwoods setting. We stopped at a Waffle House for fuel and the depositing of nitrogen-based waste. Irma drove the middle stretch and I zonked out in the back seat, only to be awakened by the unexpectedly loud opening bars of Aventura’s “9:15”. Thus invigorated, we sang songs near and dear to our hearts like Aventura, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, and “Sweet Home Alabama” until it was time for Jen to take over. Jen drove us the last ways to Myrtle Beach, and I acted as copilot. Fat lot of good I did, since MapQuest’s directions and Jen’s dad’s directions were not at all alike, so we drove down a lonely county road in the dense fog wondering if we were going to become fodder for 20/20 or a badly made horror flick. Jen suggested that we stop and ask directions, to which I replied that in South Carolina, they’d love to hack the three of us apart cause we represented all that is evil to a Southerner: a fag, a feminist, and a “foreigner” and under no circumstance were we to slow below 30 MPH lest an insomniac local catch sight of our Yankee plates and decide to host a good old southern lynching. Thus was born the “F”-squad, fighters of injustice everywhere. As it turned out, we were on the right road all along and arrived at the Surfside Beach home of Mistah & Missus Hamilton exhausted, yet oddly triumphant. Our personal beach week was heaven. Food and alcohol and sun and sand and alcohol and fireworks and sleep and alcohol. Our return trip started at a more godly hour, and we were back in DC in enough time to catch the Saturday Night Party Circuit.

New Years 2005. L.A. to Vegas, ~300 miles. 10 hours. It’s a test of my patience to drive in any sort of traffic. Let alone new year’s traffic to Vegas. But we had the Jaguar, so Arturo, Dustin and I grinned and bore it. And passed the time playing catch-up with the gorgeous boys in the next lane who, infuriatingly, kept slipping just ahead of us as we caught a glimpse of tantalizing muscleboy flesh. But yeah. 10 hours to Vegas. Shoot me in the head. The way back was no different, although then we had the added joy of dense fog and driving rain while coming down the grapevine, saying hail marys and making the sign of the cross the whole way down.Well, I don’t know if you’ve enjoyed this romp down the annals of my neurons, but I certainly have. I love a road trip. I need to go on another road trip. And maybe one of these days it’ll take place during the day and I’ll get to see some scenery.

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