Road Trip Day 3: Panoramas & Paranoias

For the full 700+ miles I’ve traveled I’ve continued my experiment of no auditory input and treating driving as a mediation practice. I’m getting better at letting the thoughts about things I can’t do anything abut at that moment go. Barreling down Oregon mountain highways at 65 miles per hour, there’s not much you can do about much of anything.

My windshield is filled with one amazing panorama after another. Bright green fields fading to dark hills and snow capped mountains presiding over the whole valley. Snaking through winding roads with cathedral trees towering on either side. Hillsides scared from wildfire, the very first seeds of recover just starting to sprout.

My inner photographer is waking up. These vistas make me want a big girl camera again. Or at least a place to safely pull over to snap what I can on the phone.

And I’m realizing how accustomed my mind has become to worrying and figuring out survival. People will try to tell you freelance life is all glamour, but rally it is a challenging, eat what you kill existence with great deal of uncertainty that isn’t for the faint of heart.

Deprived of getting to worry about all that for a minute my inner worry wart is finding more immediate things to fret about. Worrying about the present, that’s progress towards being in the now, right?

 Do I have enough gas?

On this trip I’m treating half a tank of gas as empty. I can do that with the Fit because it gets such amazing mileage I get pretty far on half a tank.

Is it generating unnecessary anxiety? As I approach the half way mark on the fuel gauge my mind starts doing the calculations. How many cars are going by? I’m ok, If I get really stuck I have a tent & sleeping bag. I have my peanut butter, bananas & rice cake food stores. I have a little over a gallon of water.

That little worry wart! Always finding something. It was a real opportunity to practice letting those thoughts go between Klamath Falls and Crater Lake and the lake and Bend there were long intervals where I couldn’t see a car in front or behind. How often do I have that in my life? Wide open space where there’s just me. Even in the car that felt kinda cool and expansive.

And treating half a tank as empty isn’t completely absurd traveling the mountain roads of Oregon. There were loooong stretches between gas stations. And I had no idea how long until the next.

How do those guys speeding in those huge gas guzzling trucks do it? They must be carrying reserves. Or there must be secret fueling stations that only revel themselves to cars with Oregon license plates.

Feeling like small furry prey

To all you dudes in ginormous pick up trucks I’m really not trying to be an asshole driving your roads’ speed limits. One, I’m trying to be respectful of the little towns we’re going through. Two, I don’t know if or where the sheriff hangs out to ping speeders. You know he’d be all over my California plates.

I would have totally turned off in that little pull out if I had known before we passed it that it was there.

And I know how much those guys hate California plates. I’ve met Oregon back country big truck guys before. They’ve ranted to my face their disdain for Californians and what they think when they see California license plates on their roads – It ain’t pretty.

New rule: when a Ford grill fills my rearview mirror it’s ok to give up the meditative driving state and focus on getting out from under their front bumper.

Do you realize how far away we are from the couch?!?

I have these moments in the long stretches between stops of how far away from home I really am. If I turned around now it would take me a good few days to get back to the safety of the couch.

While the whole point of this trip is to escape the clutches of the couch, the little lizard part of my brain that is bent on keeping me safe and alive has moments of freak out about this whole thing.

And with each day on the road the more my little lizard brain friend gets comfortable with the whole idea of where ever we are is where we are.

cathedral trees Oregon