An important planning detail for road trips is setting the right goals. Ideally, the goal should be something you can accomplish early on, so that you can relax for the rest of the trip. Secondly, it's always fun to make that goal utterly ludicrous. With those two details in mind, my only goal for the Yellowknife trip was this:
Arrive at Edmonton by 8:00.
Insane, I know. Depending on not one, not two, but three friends to be awake and ready for pick-up in the early morning? I was anticipating the experience to be much like herding cats -- drunken, belligerent cats that knew they'd be stuffed into a car for eighteen hours. By grace and by gas pedal, however, we pulled into Devon (just outside Ed. -Ed.) at 8h30, well within acceptable limits of a successful start.
In planning this trip, I'd felt much like the host of a dinner party... at least, how'd I'd imagine a dinner party host would feel. Now that the guests were assembled and seated, all I had left to do was drive, and the trip would take care of itself. Well, there were one or two side quests for the sake of my ego (Swan Hills! I'm back!), but aside from that, the first day of driving was just that -- a day of driving.
I suppose it's somewhat hypocritical of me to say this, but there's not a lot of magic to be found in road trips. It's not a quest, it's not exciting, and you don't discover anything that hasn't literally been paved over by humanity years ago. Really, the only things you have for entertainment are music and conversation -- and even those are hard to come by when the wind's roaring in your ears. There's merit to the contemplation it encourages, true -- but after eighteen hours, it isn't contemplation. It isn't even meditation. It's hibernation.
That sounds a little harsh, I know. Could it be that I'm making the drive sound worse than it really was, to better contrast it with the adventures that follow?
You bet I am.
(to be continued)