Off to Syracuse. Mood I’m in, I might drive right on by. I’m feeling the pull of the open road. Paul Theroux’s no help. He’s the devil:
Traveling without a specific destination, I had left home on Cape Cod, early on a morning autumnal and damp, steering my car south, dropped down past New York City and skirted Washington, D.C., keeping on until way past sunset, and drove into Front Royal, Vi
rginia, in the dark. It was October. I was headed for the Deep South, so I still had a way to go. But already I knew the pleasant trance-like state of long distance driving, the onset of highway hypnosis and white line fever in the long empty stretches; the satori of the open road, the ordinary experience of driving transformed into a higher spiritual path.
Normally I felt a tremor of anxiety before I set out on a long trip. This time I felt only joy, an eagerness to start, no passport, no security check, no plane to catch, no crowds. I felt a thrill throwing a jackknife into my bag. I loaded up with books; I had a tent and a sleeping bag just in case. I emptied out the refrigerator and had a bag of food too---juice and hardboiled eggs, a container of homemade chili, cheese, fruit, and bottles of wine.
I was in the Deep South and I hardly knew it, and for the sheer pleasure of driving my own car, for the freedom of not having to make onward plans, because only in America can you travel in confidence without a destination: the humblest town has a place to stay, probably on its outskirts, probably a beat-up motel; and a place to eat, at best a soul food diner, but probably a Hardee’s, an Arby’s, a Zaxby’s, a Lizard’s Ticket, or a disenfranchised chicken place reeking of hot oil, but friendly…
---from Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux.
I’ve packed a sandwich. a bottle of water, an apple, and a candy bar. I’m ready to roll.