The drive. For many, a miserable and taxing transition from journey’s start to end. A grueling, arduous task whose only redemption is found in the destination. But I love it. Yes, I struggle with this overweight, underpowered, green hatchback, with its anachronistic third pedal, climbing mountains through nothing but sheer will. Even so, get an open road in front of us and listen to this go-kart rip through the desert. There’s a wide-eyed glee, probably not too far from that of a serial maniac, that takes over my face on a good drive. So it’s appropriate that most of this adventure is behind a steering wheel.

I can’t even imagine the forest colors when I am not seeing them

Mother Nature is one hot dame. At some point or another, everyone has been awe-stricken; completely floored by her beauty. And yet, it’s always a surprise – as if memory won’t grasp the fullness of her majesty. Maybe that’s good. My puny mind would only ponder its mortality compared to this endless goddess, drooling in front of a blank wall.

The trip has shown her magnificent scale and colour. The infinite ocean, waves eternally crashing against rock, perpetually chiseling a new landscape. The west-coast cliffs, towering, ever-watching titans, tinged with the sunset’s tangerine. Colossal blue mountains on the horizon, overlooking limitless muted desert fields. Massive clouds, gun-metal grey, streaked with flamingo from the twilight. And, by far the biggest surprise, the Grand Canyon: cliffs from pale white at the top, to deep, rusted red ochre near the bottom, all dotted with the vibrant greens of constant fauna. Isn’t this supposed to be a drive through the colourless, boring, dry desert? Doesn’t feel that way from this angle.

I wonder if we can emulate these epic landscapes in games.

They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored… I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere

Every local encountered, from diner waitress to gas station owner, has lived up to their warm hospitality stereotype. We’ve been met by only kind smiles and warm y’alls. I love the southern drawl and my expectation has not been disappointed. But I didn’t expect their reaction to our trip. Quit our jobs to drift across America? Those capitalist conservatives would be horrified, masked with a sympathetic smile followed by a quick turn of the heel – weirdos!

That couldn’t be further from the truth. “Take me with you!” is the usual, only half-joking retort, followed by wistful sighs as we’re asked every detail of our trip. Seems that every American, from Bay-Area granola hippy to New Mexican good ol’ boy, share one basic tenant: the love of exploration.

Maybe a good theme for future games.

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us

My descent into bum-hood has thus far been wondrous. The American road trip off to a great start. Fueled by gorgeous inspirations, I yearn to keep going. Let’s eat some ribs!

Quotes from Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

Image by PhotoEverywhere