Saturday, 13 September 2014

The View from the Passenger Seat.

When we go on long trips, we have a rule of thumb : one day of travel, one day of staying put. But we were already behind schedule, so we spent four straight 10 hour days on the road.

Day one is always a shake-down day, when we adjust to how travelling works, and what our respective jobs are. For the resident sweetie, that's a given: he's the driver. End of story. I've never wanted to drive a big diesel truck pulling a 5th wheel, so he gets the job by default. My job is being the good supportive little wife, and I'll admit it is not my best role. After spending a second day in the passenger seat watching him compulsively check oil and fuel gages, furrow his brow, cock his ear to listen for any noises that shouldn’t be there,  purse his lips and spout raspberries to relieve his tension, I was just a mite titchy.

Clearly, I needed an attitude adjustment. I would find things to do that enhanced the journey, or we would become road warriors in the real sense. In a spirit of generosity, I hereby share my list of top 10 things to do when you’re the one in the passenger seat.

1. Listen to the radio. Except, in our beast of a diesel truck, the volume would have had to be so cranked, the RS wouldn’t have been able to hear any of those supposed noises he was listening for. Ditch that.

2. Read the newspaper. We often buy a newspaper on our first stop of the day so I can read it aloud to Al. The miles zoom by, and there are lots of conversation starters, ranging from the deep issues (“Will wars ever end?) to frothy stories about movie stars that make us shake our heads. After that, we work on the crossword. A good newspaper can give us about 150 miles worth of entertainment. But on day 3, when I walked into one of the big truck stops, it turned out that they don’t sell newspapers. Not even News of the World. You can buy 32 oz. Slurpees and corn dogs galore, but not a stitch of news. What is this world coming to? Hey, there’s a conversation starter!

3. Well, okay then. No newspapers? Read billboards. May the floss be with you (dental clinics); Buy Used Without Feeling that Way (car sales); Our Kool-aid is better than your Kool-aid (???); Fat City fireworks – bottle rockets and mortars, open 24 hours a day (yeah, I hate it when I run out of bottle rockets and mortars at 11 o’clock at night; so glad someone has that covered.) On the side of grain elevator: Desert Mill Grains and Pasta Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. In front of an abandoned church: Living Waters...For Sale. After passing an area with lots of wind turbines on rocky ridges, this one caught our eye: Caution – Red Light District. Wind Development, not the world’s oldest profession, but the results are the same.

4. Get Creative. “40 Miles to Boise,” said the RS, and I thought that sounded like the beginning of a good song or poem. So when I saw a sign that read “Stinker’s Truck Stop,” I couldn’t resist.

The Stinker’s Truck Stop close to Nampa,
Is just the ticket for gran and grampa.
They fuel up their bellies,
Get rid of their smellies,
Without setting foot in the campah. 

Al was tickled by a billboard that read Report Wildlife Crime. His poem: “If a bear steals bread, he’s dead.” Short, funny, gets the point across. Perhaps I should get him to guest for me on this blog.

5. Count Fed-Ex and UPS trucks. There were so many on the road, we were sad we hadn't bought stock in courier companies about 10 years ago.

6. Play word games. We decided to see how many words we could make out of the letters in  the word “frontage.” We got 110, including 5 six-letter words and 13 five-letter words. We welcome challenges to that.

7. Check the map. Check the GPS. Check the map again. No, we’re not there yet. Sigh.

8. Visit rest areas. Take pit stops. Did you know that in Canada, we call those biffies pit toilets, and in the US they seem to go by the name of vault toilets. Hmmm.

9. Do housecleaning. I took along a rag and some cleaners and wiped down all the vinyl surfaces I could reach. That took care of 10 minutes. But it made me feel better for a long time.

10. Engage in gas wars. Okay, not those kinds of gas wars, although the RS did have some good lines which he declared off the record. However, he said I could use “Well, I never have run out of gas yet.” (So true.) This was said in response to my expressed exasperation  that his idea of when to refuel is vastly different than mine. His is when the low fuel light comes on. Mine is when the gage says there’s 1/3 of a tank left. I don’t think there will be a winner in these gas wars, since we are both stubborn.

However, we have arrived here in Southern Utah, and we are still talking to each other. So far, the trip is a success!
Bryce Canyon was gorgeous. We were happy. What more can you want?

Yes, I did take my sewing machine and a small stash of fabrics along. Here's my attempt at a postcard-sized piece depicting Bryce Canyon, which goes to show that you really can't improve on nature. But it was fun trying. I hope to produce a few more "postcards" and send them to you on this blog in the next few weeks.

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