Tuesday, October 9, 2018

ROAD RITUALS



The road from Lake Payette to Boise, Idaho
November 2014


Looking back four-and-half years, to soon after this blog was born, I discover in my notes (after the first three road trips) that I wrote some basic "guidelines" (not "rules") for Clubhouse on Wheels road-tripping.



Road trip departure is preferably a Sunday or Monday, depending on the destination a) to alleviate road traffic and b) assure vacancy in hostelries and available tables in restaurants of choice. 

We do not book ahead thus allowing for the spontaneity and flexibility to alter our destiny at whim.  

We do not necessarily aim for the finest hotel in town, but often the most historic or interesting, say, those haunted by ghosts, thereby adding a pinch of the past to our experience.  

Jerome, AZ, March 2014

We eschew chain motels and hotels, and bed bugs, and will drive many extra miles to avoid them.

Departure time is 9:33 a.m.  This precludes rushing about and provides time for coffee and breakfast before setting off.  

Thereafter, departure from destination to destination is no later than 9:33, but earlier if possible, because it allows for an easy seven hours on the road, or 300-400 miles, arriving at an overnight destination no later than 4:33, allowing time to assess hotel options and immediate occupation.

Rarely two nights in the same place, it’s a road trip, not a vacation.

Once checked in, a walk to stretch legs and breathe fresh air.  In my case, a stroll through galleries and vintage shops in search of talismans and artifacts.

By 5:33, we will have discovered the best saloon in town. This being a club, it is about enjoying the finer things in life, especially with regard to libations.  My aperitif of choice, most evenings, is a gin martini.

Kate's Big Nose Saloon
Tombstone, AZ, January 2016

If my stomach is queasy from motion or road food: Fernet Branca.  The Italians invented this multi-herb potion as a digestif to be taken at the end of a rich or abundant meal to assist digestion.  But it works even better as a stomach settler, even if Big Pharma would rather sell you Zantac. 

The choice of restaurant is likely to be the best one likely to serve dishes indigenous to the region: local delights, new flavors, innovative preparation and presentation.

Ideally, a local wine will accompany the fare, but if no such thing exists, our fallback is a pinot noir from California or Oregon, as good with seafood as beef.

If in the desert, maybe tequila, but it must be the sipping kind, as smooth as cognac, say, Don Julio Anejo.  Never shots.  The idea is to make a few drinks last as long as possible, and shot of something—anything—defeats that purpose.

As for a dress code:  One dresses for comfort in the COW.  For me it means linen bush shirts by day and cotton button-downs by night, blue jeans and a pair of suede boots; a lightweight wrinkle-resistant safari jacket that can scrunch into a pillow, add a sun-and-water-resistant Tilly Air-Flo hat.

Historic Route 66

Various tools to record my ongoing travelogue: a Mac laptop, Leica C camera, leather notebook and pens. 

In my toilet kit I carry a spray of vodka.  Not to drink but for its versatility as a cleanser.  Use it on cuts and stings, clean your eyeglasses and sunglasses, kill germs on the hotel TV remote. 
          

Close to hand (on bedside table):  a high-powered pocket-size flashlight and tactical pen.