A solo road trip is all the therapy a real car nerd needs. Don't pay some shrink to clear your head, and forget about those yoga classes, too. Just ask your inner 16-year old what nirvana is and you'll quickly find yourself plotting long routes to the middle of nowhere.
It's a simple concept, really. Pick a destination hundreds of miles away from home and map a ridiculously indirect way to actually get there. Load up on caffeine, junk food and a tank full of premium, and hit the road.
It doesn't really matter where you're headed-just as long as it's going to take a tank or two of gas to get there. No, gas isn't cheap anymore. But, it's not going to get any cheaper over time, and it costs a lot less than anything else offering the same level of sanctity. So, make sure your voyage is long enough that you become immersed in thought and highway-with a great CD creating your soundtrack.
My most recent solo trip took me through the snaking roads that trace a path through Southern Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. It's easy to become immersed in the driving experience on roads like these; the seamless chain of long, sweeping corners ensure the steering wheel never sees center, and fluid arcs are drawn from apex to apex in one cursive movement.
I was driving in a special seasonal window. A peek down the rolling mountainside revealed a spectrum of color in the trees that signaled the brief gap between a warm summer and an icy winter. Within less than an hour, I found myself entranced by the meandering highway. Life's little problems brushed past like the Technicolor leaves gliding over the windshield on invisible pockets of air.
The physics of the drive make it an engaging experience, but it's a combination of natural beauty, a familiar car and fluid roads that create a flow state in the driver in which everything seems to happen unconsciously. It's hard to walk away from such a drive without feeling relieved-like waking leisurely from a ten-hour sleep with no agenda for the day ahead.
Most people don't think they have the time for a road trip. As we get older, more responsibility is placed on our shoulders and our schedules quickly become even more cluttered. But you're not going to get any younger, and your schedule isn't going to get freer in the future, either. Ten years from now, you may ask yourself why you didn't get more alone time when the planner was so empty.
The solo road trip has to be impulsive and it has to take priority over the daily grind. Don't take any calls today. Skip the yoga classes and pick a destination in the middle of nowhere and go there with yourself. Encapsulated in the cockpit of an intimately familiar car, your biggest worry will be choosing the right CD to pop in.