I’ve never been afraid of a long drive and I think it’s in my genes.
Growing up, my family and I would crisscross the state of New York several times a year, visiting relatives near Albany and in the Adirondack mountains and becoming well-acquainted with places like Corning, Elmira and Horseheads.
Some of the fondest moments from my childhood are the hours spent in the backseat of our family minivan, my imagination running wild as we barreled through the night toward Glens Falls.
If nothing else, those six- and seven-hour drives, which often began in the wee hours of the morning at my father’s behest, taught me that no amount of mileage or distance should keep you from your family or keep you from the good time that awaits you at the end of the highway.
My genetic predisposition for driving distances that might keep lesser men homebound notwithstanding, road trips are good for your soul.
They can be revealing, life-affirming and give you a chance to call all of those people you meant to catch up with but got distracted by a “Real Housewives of Orange County” marathon. We’re on to you, bored dialers.
More than that, a fascination with road trips is ingrained into our national psyche. They are a chance to revisit the romance of our pioneering past.
We load up our modern-day covered wagons with our loved ones and provisions and blaze a trail toward parts unknown, unsure of the sights and experiences that await us.
As if that weren’t enough, there’s virtually no chance you’ll have to fend off hostile natives, ford a river or combat dysentery — unless you drink from a water fountain at a truck stop, then you’re on your own. That’s just gross.
There’s something so peacefully isolating about a morning, an afternoon or an entire day of car travel. It is a pursuit that requires a kind of single-mindedness so rarely exercised in our increasingly multitasking world.
For the hours that you’re in the car, the world, its joys and its hassles feel thousands of miles away.
Besides the landscape and scenery whipping into and out of sight, little else seems of any consequence as each mile ticks past on the odometer.
There’s an undeniable serenity to the road.
This week, in honor of that great American tradition, eight songs for your next road trip.
Road trips are the only acceptable venue for consuming Fritos, cheese puffs and Andy Capp’s cheddar fries.
• Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again” — Classics never die.
• Butterfly Boucher, “Another White Dash” — Not sure another song has so perfectly captured the euphoria of striking out for parts unknown.
• Kanye West, “Drive Slow” — The only song that ever made anyone want to drive slow.
• Jimi Hendrix, “Crosstown Traffic” — Never has traffic seemed so cool.
• Bruce Springsteen, “Thunder Road” — A lyrical masterpiece.
• Wilco, “Passenger Side” — A song that feels like truck stops and rest areas.
• Arcade Fire, “In the Backseat” — A soaring and surreal road trip anthem.
• Death Cab for Cutie, “405” — The song always plays in my head as the sun sinks below the horizon in my rearview mirror.