best of 2009: car ride

I'm in the car a lot, probably more than your average person, because I commute about 45 minutes to work. I drive a lot in town, also, taking M to work, picking her up, running errands. It feels like I'm in the car at least equal to the time I'm out of it some days.

And yet, I still love a road trip. There's something wonderfully unpredictable about it despite the amount of planning and preparing that accompanies it. In 2008, there were some incredibly fun road trips with friends and family. We took M's brother to New Orleans for the first time; we went to Graceland. We drove to Alabama for Matt's wedding and to Athens, Georgia for a conference where we stopped by Ruby Falls on the way. 2009, however, brought us the foodie road trip, our trek to Michigan and several drives back and forth to Bloomington, Indy and Chicago. I've written about my affinity for road tripping before, especially trips with M.

But the best car rides, for me, are the ones where there's great conversations and great music. We don't have to be going anywhere in particular. I love driving across the country and watching the landscape change but I also like the familiar drives, the openness of the midwest. I remember one beautiful drive this summer from Indianapolis where I'd said goodbye to my friend, Maria. I was maybe halfway home, listening to Band of Horses and as I drove the sun began to set and I was able to watch the amazingly gorgeous colors fade throughout my drive. In the wide open spaces, the colors filled the sky. It was breathtaking. By the time I reached Champaign, the sun had disappeared completely and the experience remained a metaphor for wishing good luck to one of my best friends about to move around the world. It was an emotional and lovely car ride, one that I spent alone with my thoughts and music.