By: Jeff Dunlap, Media Relations Assistant
I have been thinking about it, and Road Trips are like an art form. They need vision, hard work, and a little bit of luck. It’s like Nolan Ryan throwing a no-no or maybe Van Gogh painting one of his famous pieces of work like “Café Terrace at Night” (my personal favorite). You may think I’m being a little ridiculous when I compare a road trip to these things or even a no-hitter to a famous painting, but the truth of it is, anything that is done above and beyond the expected or standard should be considered an art form. Hitting a perfect drive down the center of the fairway… art. Filling out tax forms to make sure you get that perfect, giant return… art. Writing a children’s book that the old or young alike can enjoy… art. Or I suppose I can use a better known phrase to describe it; art is in the eye of the beholder.
I recently took such a trip when I drove from Hickory, NC to Waukesha, WI and then back, all in four and a half days. That is roughly 1,656 miles. This particular road trip I took had a little bit of what I’m talking about. First, I planned. I knew I only had four days to enjoy before I had to be back before work, so I mapped out how I would get from point A to point B and back. Pretty basic stuff since these days all you need to do is throw it into a GPS, but nonetheless I did that and decided if I wanted to use any highways to go along with the freeways I would be taking. Another important thing to plan is food. And I’m not talking about stopping at a fast food place for a bite to eat. I’m talking snacks for the ride. You need three types of snacks for a long road trip.
Snack 1: Hearty or meaty snacks that can sometimes substitute for meals. These are things like beef jerky, cheese sticks, or maybe something like a lunchable. The importance of having these snacks is simple, sometimes the decision needs to be made to “power through” and stopping is just not in the cards. Thank you for staying open 24/7 McDonald’s, but I’ve got half a tank, some beef sticks, and only 2 more hours to go.
Snack 2: These are your drinks. Drinks can serve two main purposes of road trips. The first is simple; drinks are delicious and can keep you hydrated. The second purpose is to keep you awake. These are your coffees and energy drinks. Drinks are dangerous as well though. Drinking too much can make for unwanted pit stops to the john so you need to plan around that.
Snack 3: Nuts and anything crunchy. Crunchy snacks don’t necessarily stop your hunger, but they keep you busy and help pass the time. It’s the action of going back into the bag again and again that keeps you as active as you can be within the limits of your car. My personal favorite of these types of snacks… pistachios. Not only are they delicious, but they make you work for it. You have to take it out of the container, crack the shell, eat the nut, and then get rid of the shell. It’s a whole process.
The next step is putting in the work. You’ve got to rack up the miles to make the most of the time you have. Whether you’re going the speed limit or 10 over, it doesn’t really matter. You just have to put some distance between your starting point and your finish line. The other aspect of putting in the work involves what you do when you get to where you’re going. It’s a waste of a road trip if you finally get to your destination and waste time in your hotel room or watch TV the whole time. If you are going to take the time to get there, make it worth it. Being tired from the road is not an excuse. Go out on the town, grill out, see the sights, do something. It’s all one big trip so if you don’t make the most of the time you have at your destination it’s a failed trip.
The last thing, and maybe most important part of the trip, is leaving some room for spontaneous decisions. Everyone has seen the movies; if everything goes to plan you didn’t make the most of your trip. Now, this aspect of the trip is different for everybody on every road trip. These are things like stopping to see the largest ball of yarn in the U.S., sleeping at a rest stop because you can’t afford a hotel room, or maybe your car breaks down in rural Indiana and you’re stranded for a while. These are only examples of the things that you don’t plan that make a road trip complete. It is important to embrace them and make the most of the situation. Staying positive and creating an adventure is much better than sitting on the side of the road feeling sorry for yourself.
Quick example of this from my recent trip was a little game I played with my roommate called, “how many Red Bulls does it take to make it from Indianapolis to Waukesha on virtually no sleep?” The answer, we found out, was four. But it didn’t stop there. We had the chance to hang out for another night in my hometown and probably take it easy. What did we do instead? Found out we had a buddy who could make it up for a Cubs game in Chicago, so we bought tickets and met him in Wrigleyville for the game and a night in the big city. The last mini adventure we experienced during this road trip was the last 100 miles home. I am not exaggerating when I say that for 100 miles I drove through monsoon rains at 2 a.m. in the morning going 20mph on a 70mph road to get home. It was both miserable and impressive.
Now, I’m not saying that I took the best road trip of all time or that I’m the Nolan Ryan or Van Gogh of road trips. What I am saying is that there is a way to do it and a way not to do it. I may not be Nolan Ryan or Van Gogh, but feel free to compare me to Zach Greinke or Grant Wood.
Jeff enters his first season as media relations assistant with the Crawdads. Born and raised in Waukesha, WI, Jeff graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Communications while also playing baseball for the Huskies during his time there. He has previously worked with 1250 Sports Radio in Milwaukee, WI as well as Comcast Cable at their Cambridge studio. He is an avid Wisconsin sports fan who stays busy playing sports, watching movies, and enjoying various outdoor activities.