Have you ever daydreamed when riding in a car on a long road trip?

You know what I mean? It’s one of those quiet stretches. You have the radio playing some local station you picked up while passing through a small town. The driver is fixed on the road ahead while you stare out the passenger window, watching the trees and fields, the empty side roads and dilapidated barns. There are billboards advertising nearby restaurants, gas stations, and museums of specific themes: stock cars, Indian pottery, ceramic dolls. There’s also the weird signs, put up by some rancher or hermit living on the fringes of a rural town decreeing the evils of circumcision and Sharia law overtaking the US. Oh, and immigrants.

I always get caught up on those side roads, those isolated tracks of dirt or pavement that run off into some distant patch of woods or parallel the highway for miles, then end abruptly at a river’s edge.

I wonder where they would lead to. Someone’s house? A secret hideout? Maybe the lair of a madman plotting world domination. Or maybe it leads to another world, another dimension. I sometimes see it as leading to an alternate reality, a world like this one, but slightly different. You’d really have to pay attention to notice the difference. That would make an interesting story. Twilight Zone material.

You know, some guy on a road trip, decides to maybe check out a side road to break up the boredom of the trip. He ventures too far, ends up passing through some ripple in space/time, finds himself lost and tries to find his way back.

Or maybe there’s some forgotten small town, isolated since the highway diverted traffic from the old road. A town of suspicious isolationists who haven’t seen a stranger in too many years and now feel their secrets are going to be exposed.

What about the traveler stumbling upon some secret lair – maybe a mad scientist or a secret government agency up to no good? They aren’t sure if he’s a spy or just a guy who got lost, but they can’t let him leave because he might reveal their plans.

So many possibilities pop into my head when I’m on the road. What about all those fields, the manicured ones that stretch on seemingly forever without any civilization in sight? Or the huge tracts of undeveloped forest or swamp…has anyone ever set foot in there? Is this piece of land unexplored or did some forgotten tribe once call this home? What secrets lay there?

You know how it is on road trips when you aren’t the one driving. I’m not one to play mindless games on my phone or constantly change the radio stations trying to find one playing a song I like. I’d rather daydream, explore possibilities, wonder at the unknown. Rainy days only make it better, setting the mood with gray skies, raindrops streaking the windows, and deepening the shadows.

It’s been a while. I may need to get on the road again soon.

RB


Raymond Carver Hunter S. Thompson

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