Friday, June 09, 2006

Road trip

I had a hard time sleeping last night and developed a killer headache, so I got up without bothering to turn on the light or fumble for my glasses to grab some Tylenol. I don't often take pain relievers, but I'm fairly resistant to them when I do, so I tend to take more than the person who writes the dosage instructions would be comfortable with. I gulped down four, went back to bed, and woke up this morning to find a rarely-used bottle of multivitamins next to the sink. The Tylenol was still tucked away in a corner of the medicine cabinet. Oops.

I don't know if I feel four times better today, but I do feel pretty good (but remember, kids, overdosing on vitamins isn't actually good for you. Just say no to grabbing pills in the dark.) The reason I feel good isn't really the vitamins, however – I'm now officially on holidays from the day job.

I'm off on a road trip whose main purpose is to end up in Banff to cover the television festival, which will be a little frantic and a little exhausting and not exactly a relaxing vacation on the beach, but it's my idea of fun and that's all that counts. My pasty white self doesn't do well on the beach, anyway.

The drive will take me through the Okanagan to pick up a friend who's coming along for the ride, even though she'll have to fend for herself in Banff while I'm busy geeking out on the TV industry. She doesn't have her drivers license yet, so she won't be helping with the driving, but she does help my ego to know I'm not the only freak who waited so long to get behind the wheel.

I've written before about my brilliant strategy to avoid it until I was forced to get a car for my job. I now have the driving experience of your average 18 year old. I am not 18. I haven't been 18 for, oh god, almost 18 years. Anticipating the trip, I realized I've finally gotten to the point where I kind of enjoy driving.

I don't enjoy driving in traffic, though, and most of my accumulated driving time has been commuting in intercity traffic. That commute is now over the so-called Bridge of Death – an old bridge whose lanes are narrower than they should be by today's standards. They installed skinny pylons along the centre lane to try to reduce head-on collisions (with plastic pylons? Seriously?). I used to amuse myself by counting how many had been flattened. Now it's almost easier to count how many are left. I always lose count at the curve in the road, when I realize I should pay more attention to where I'm going instead of where vehicles shouldn't have gone.

But what I do enjoy is the enforced downtime. There's nothing else I can be doing that's more important than making sure I stay on the road, between the lines, away from the other cars. In the car, I'm just driving. Just thinking random thoughts. Just singing at the top of my lungs if I feel like it. It's where what seem like brilliant ideas at the time hit me. Where I compose articles, or stories, or blog entries in my head, and even scribble them down if I'm stuck in traffic. It's isolated, and comforting, and peaceful ... until that idiot turns left right in front of me.

But highway driving is pretty much all peace. It'll be just me and my thoughts and my music for the first half of this road trip (including a homemade mixed CD titled "The Road to Banff" that just arrived in the mail - thanks E!). Then it'll be just me and my friend, who I've known long enough that we can talk about anything or nothing with equal comfort, and our music. So I'm feeling good, even though the vitamins must be out of my system by now. As long as some idiot deer doesn't dart in front of the car, it's going to be great.