This weekend we were going to go on a road trip to California, it being a long weekend and all, but we ended up not going due to family obligations that came up.  However, we scaled back our trip and ended up doing a day trip, driving less than 200 miles in all, going to Sonoita and then Fort Huachuca, both places where I had never been before, so that was cool!

Photo from Laurent Baig…sadly, I have no photos of my own from this trip, as I forgot my phone.  It’s too bad, because it was so beautiful out there!
I’ve always liked road trips, since I was a little kid…sure, they sometimes involve long stretches of boring terrain (Texas, I AM LOOKING AT YOU), but you can see things you otherwise wouldn’t, and find interesting experiences everywhere.  So this week’s Inspired Monday is about that great American institution, road trips.

In college, at the beginning and end of every summer, I would take a road trip from my hometown of Tucson to my college town of Sarasota, with one or the other of my parental units.  I loved this ritual…it marked either the beginning or end of a school year, it gave me four or five days of driving and listening to music to reflect on the year I had just finished or my goals for the year I was about to start.  It was like a mini-retreat…or a nice palate cleanser after a demanding semester.

Santa Fe was always a good place to palate-cleanse…
Plus, I got to drive through some cool places…
Best Mexican restaurant EVER near Las Cruces, New Mexico.
the Mississippi River Bridge.  Forgive the terrible photo, it was taken on my Palm Pilot (!) which only had a 1 megapixel camera (!!!).  Hey, it was 2004…
Obligatory Grand Canyon pic!
Why are Americans so fascinated with road trips?  Because we can, I think.  Living here, a country that’s so huge in area, yet all fairly accessible via the highway system, makes us feel like there’s so much freedom.  You can get on the road and go anywhere!  When I get on I-10 in Tucson, even if I’m just driving across town, the signs remind me that if I stick with that highway, I can go to either Phoenix or El Paso.  And beyond that, all the way to either Los Angeles or Jacksonville, on opposite coasts of the country!  It’s kind of exhilarating to think about, isn’t it?
Maxfield!  He went on lots of road trips with me.  He looks less than exhilarated here, but he definitely had fun most of the time on our trips.
Yet our country isn’t homogenous either, there are several distinct regions, and if you live most of your life in one area, going to another can feel like a whole other country.  Moving from Arizona to Florida I really felt this (what do you mean there are GATORS at a MINI GOLF COURSE?  And what on earth is this Publix that everyone keeps going to?).  And moving from Florida to Idaho, same (why does everyone own so much camping gear?  What’s this cold, white stuff falling from the sky?!!).  We may not be able to drive for an hour and be in another country like Europeans can, but there’s still plenty of diversity to explore in America.
Heck, even driving from Tucson to Sonoita felt like much longer than 50 miles, given how much the landscape changed…and there are even more exotic locales within a couple hours’ driving distance, like Mount Lemmon:
Pine trees?!?  Holy crap.  You can even SKI on this mountain, whenever enough of that mysterious white stuff falls from the sky.  We Tucsonans still haven’t figured out what that is.
I bet you that wherever you live (in America or elsewhere), if you drive for a short while in the right direction, you can find someplace cool and totally different from where you started.  Take a road trip!  Your region might surprise you.