The Hard Truth About Life on the Road

Cruising in Idaho through a canola field.

Every year we get hundreds of emails from our readers asking how they, too, can live a romantic life on the road without really knowing what they’re doing.  But the unfortunate hard truth we’re required to respond with is that it is neither romantic nor for the faint at heart.  In fact, it’s actually hard work.

This morning, after leaving our camp ground cleaner than we found it, we began to navigate through the southeast corner of Idaho from Holbrook, near the Utah border up to Ashton, near the Wyoming border.  On the face of it, that’s pretty easy to do and many people actually do that every year.  But unless you’re a cartographer and a topographer, to do that same trip in an old car can be quite challenging, with only the appearance of  being easy.  Wrong turns or steep hills can spell disaster for an antique car tourist, and quite frankly the novelty of rolling into our destination just as the sun is setting and the restaurants are closing is wearing off.

Once again we were racing daylight.

Another useful skill set is the ability to understand music.  Just like an experienced harmonica player who has to study the notes he’s playing, we drivers, too, must listen and study the notes that our cars are making.  The engine sings a song of hopefully only a few, constant notes, but which can vary in pitch or tempo depending on the mood of the driver.  It’s actually quite a simple but lovely song,  But when other, unexpected engine notes start playing, the driver must carefully study those notes and instantly identify and ponder every possible catastrophic meaning of these new notes.  Even when the correct remedy has been identified and the unwanted notes have been removed, it is the driver’s responsibility to continue thinking about the interruption and consider that perhaps there was more to the music than was originally thought and the next time he hears those notes again it might be at a traffic light with a line of cars behind him, or in the middle of a remote valley with nary a soul around.

The Goldilocks sweet spot for cruising in the T.

Finally, there are the annoyances of nature.  Modern-day drivers can isolate themselves from nature simply by rolling up the windows (which aren’t really “rolled up” anymore) and hanging a little tree on the rear-view mirror.  But it is not unheard of for an antique car motorist to be, say, stung by an angry bee which couldn’t see fit to avoid bouncing off the driver’s seat and then flying up the back of his shirt as if the driver meant to hit the bee in the first place.  Or to witness other animals extend their authority beyond their assigned habitat simply because it takes us quite some time to get where we’re going and sometimes we need stop and relieve ourselves by stretching our legs or other such activities.

Fortunately there was a fence between the two.

In summary, the idea the just anyone could, or should, spend their productive years living on the road is truly misguided and should only be attempted by professionals.  Everyone else is much better off watching from afar.

2 thoughts on “The Hard Truth About Life on the Road”

  1. So beautifully written! I’m hoping you’ll gather and publish this sometime! The musical analogy is great, and the tone/voice delightful!


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