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Nathan's column: Ill prepared for the road ahead

By the time this issue of the Independent Town Pages reaches mailboxes I will be somewhere west of Nebraska and east of San Francisco. I’m taking a road trip to deliver my dad’s car to California so he and my step-mom will have it available to them when they spend three months in the land of sunshine, wine and earthquakes.

As I write this, though, it’s two days before my departure and I’m sitting on my couch having done pretty much nothing to prepare.

I’m pretty sure my dad has given more thought than I have to the drive I have ahead of me. It’s a pretty low bar to clear if I’m honest.

I’m not a planner. At least when it comes to trips. I’ve been warned I’ll forget something important when I make one of my last-minute packing efforts, but I never really have. Besides, you can buy underwear pretty much anywhere.

This doesn’t seem like a trip that requires much planning anyway. The route is simple. I go to Des Moines, take a right and stop when I hit the ocean. I might even turn off the GPS.

That’s kind of the way I do road trips. Not the GPS part. I didn’t even have GPS the last time I took a long drive on my own. I drove to Denver to attend the National Newspaper Association convention, then took a week of vacation. I had a reservation in Las Vegas at the end of the week,, but nothing specific planned in between. So, I wandered west through Colorado and wound up on an iffy gravel road in rural Utah. Which, so far as I can tell, is pretty much all of Utah outside of Salt Lake City. I stopped at national parks and stayed in a cabin that didn’t have nearly the insulation a person might have liked. I slept in all of my clothes that night and still shivered.

There were some other questionable motels on that trip. One I stopped at in eastern Colorado felt it necessary to post a sign specifically banning the cleaning of fowl in the room. That made my dinner preparations a little difficult, but the place was pretty OK otherwise.

I suppose I could have avoided issues like that with a little more planning. But far be it from me to learn a lesson. My dad offered to make hotel reservations for me along the way. He’s made the trip before, and he’s got the route broken into manageable segments. That seems awfully limiting, though. It’s not a real adventure until it’s starting to get late, I’m starting to get tired and some lingering doubts enter my mind about just how much farther you have to go to find a motel where you don’t have to worry about the other occupants stealing your stuff to pay for meth. Or investment-grade Beanie Babies.

People still buy Beanie Babies, right? Or have I made a terrible mistake with my retirement planning?

Maybe I’ll leave the GPS on after all.

There are dangers on this trip beyond iffy lodging, too. I might drive through some snowy weather. I have to cross the mountains, too. I will go through the Donner Pass, and since I’m driving alone I won’t have anyone else there to take over if I get tired. Or to be a snack if I get stranded.

I’m not too concerned, though. I should have plenty of time. I learned over the weekend how to put chains on the car. And I’m almost positive I’ll remember to pack enough underwear.

It’s going to be great.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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