Road Tripping with Janna (by Braden)

This adventure is going to be exciting, and great, and we’re going to see so many new places, and meet so many new people, and every once in a while, we’ll probably still have McDonald’s anyway, just because. But to see those new places, and meet those new people, and jam those Big Macs with a side of McNuggets, we’re going to have to get to those places.

And that, my friends, will be the first potential stress-point in this great adventure we’re going on.

Over the next 13 months, we’re going to be spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 hours ‘on the road.’ Sure, that’s about half of the time that we spend in an equivalent period sitting in Houston traffic, but it’s different when it’s a road trip. That’s because the drives are longer, the destinations are more nebulous, and the temptation to Pull Over Here (branding opportunity) are through-the-roof.

We’ve already agreed to more-or-less split driving duties, which is especially important given that we’ll both be working from the road (hotspots FTW).

When Janna is driving, I’m good. I can work, I can Google, I can learn, I can keep my brain occupied. But, when I’m driving, things get a little….trickier.

That’s because I like to know things about things. And Janna sometimes needs some peace and quiet to read, or play Boom Beach. And, since safety is first, when I want to know something, I can’t drive and Google it myself.

So, obviously, I ask Siri. And by Siri I mean Janna. And I usually get about 2 questions per road trip, before the gloves come off. After 13 months of this, I’m afraid I might find myself left on the road-side next to the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois.

They’re usually along the lines of “I can’t see a building in either direction, what’s the name of this place that we’re in?” or “hey that town looks interesting, how many people live there?” or “that town is named WHAT? What’s the etymology of that name?”

But, that’s part of the fun of exploring new places. It’s a little bit idealistic. I’m always hoping to find the “world’s biggest ball of yarn” or the “best fried chicken in a town with a population of 1,000.” And, sometimes we do (all you can eat at Bottoms Up Family Bar & Grill in Jacob, Illinois).

For a moment in college, I considered the field of anthropology. The problem was, that at the time, I hated travelling (if you didn’t know me until the last 5 years, this will probably shock you to learn). I also wasn’t so sure about people (this probably won’t shock anybody to learn). I wound up majoring in Finance, but as a free-willed adult, I’ve become a little obsessed with the interplay of geography and anthropology (Pitcairn Islands, Google it). And that’s the part of this trip that I’m most excited about. I want to see how every corner of the country lives, what and where makes the locals tick. Our country and world are becoming more-and-more homogenized, and while that loses a modicum of regional identity, it brings something else that’s fantastic: it cuts away the fat and reveals what local peoples are truly proud of, what is the real essence of a place, because the also-rans get cut away by cultural diffusion.

Examples where this curiosity has paid off for us on past adventures:

  • Most fun we’ve ever had at roller derby: Hood River Oregon, population 7,700, high school gym packed to the rafters, attended on a whim after seeing a flyer on a billboard in a grocery store in a neighboring town.
  • Where did the name of the town Covert, Michigan come from? When it was founded in the 1860s, during the American civil war, it was a town that was already racially integrated. The covert cemetery is a rare example where both black and white Civil War veterans are buried. The local school was integrated in the 1860s, 100 years before Little Rock caught up.
  • The most fantastic motor sport that you’ve never heard of? Why, that would be a “burnout competition,” where you chain the axel of your car to a concrete slab in a custom-made stadium in Augusta, Wisconsin, and compete to see who can make the biggest and baddest cloud of smoke by revving their tires. This is absolutely real, not in your guide books, and a memory that I will never forget.

The purpose of this trip is to seek adventure and experience. I’m naturally inclined to be curious, and Janna is naturally inclined to stay in her lane.

If we are going to fulfill our mission and live up to our name and Pull Over Here (and also not kill each other), we’re going to have to come to an understanding. I see the compromise being somewhere along the lines of Janna declaring designated “leave me the eff alone” times, and having blocks where I can ask all of the questions I want. We’ll see how that works out.

2 Replies to “Road Tripping with Janna (by Braden)

  1. Maybe you crowd source it. An interactive Google map where people can add notes, tag locations, their own “burnout competitions” if you will. You can read before or after the drive, then go down the wiki hole sprouting your own factoids.

    1. That’s a great idea!!! Now I have a new project – definitely going to set this up. I expect you to make some adds.

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