Later this morning I am driving up the California coast to San Francisco to spend some time with Jackie!. I am going again in two weeks for an epic girls’ weekend, but timing and circumstance worked together to allow me this extra bit of time with her. I am desperately looking forward to holding that girl in a tight hug.
Mike has made this drive countless times without me, and countless times with me, but I have never made it alone. In fact, I’ve never made such a long drive alone ever. It’s a very easy drive (get on the 101 freeway, drive 375 miles, say hi to San Francisco) so I’m not worried about the technical aspects of it. It’s an eight-hour drive, and the only time I normally get eight hours alone is when I’m sleeping. And I haven’t slept for eight hours straight in…well, probably not in years.
The thing that worries me the most about being alone for eight hours is where my mind might go. I have only recently gotten better at being alone in the car, but that’s never more than a forty-five minute drive, tops. With the heavier nature of this trip and the upcoming milestones in my life, I’m worried I’ll get bogged down by the morose and just cry behind the wheel for the entire length of the coast.
When I told Mike my worries, he told me to look at it from a different angle. Normally when we make this drive we have a child in the car, so we are always very focused on getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Also, we have to play annoying amounts of kid music. This time I can stop when I want to (I might want ice cream! Or a crab cake! Or maybe I can even pee in private!), or take pictures at scenic overlooks. I can listen to whatever I want to on the radio. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to my music on a car stereo. I might even download an audio book, although I have no idea what I would get.
Basically, I am going to focus on the unique opportunities this trip will afford me – most importantly, time with one of my favorite people in the whole world. I can’t wait until this evening, when we’re camped out on the couch eating junk and watching junk, talking and laughing and doing our best to pretend that we are still the carefree girls we once were only four short years ago.
Safe travels, Heather. I hope this weekend (and your upcoming epic weekend!!) are everything you hope they will be!
I’m sorry you and Jackie! aren’t still carefree. Big hugs to you all. I used to hate to drive alone. It is now one of the only times for quiet. Wishing you a peaceful and safe drive.
My unsolicited advice is the same as Mike’s. Make a long road-trip playlist, knowing that those songs will forever have a special significance and association for you (huh, like you don’t already know that). Have a safe trip, and pls. tell Jackie! that we are thinking of her.
Have a wonderful time – you both deserve it!
I’ve done that drive by myself a few times and always found it to be a great chance to just be me- sing at the top of your lungs, stop to potty whenever you need, stop in San Luis Obispo for a stretch and food. I hope you find enjoyment in your drive like I always do. And drive safe- t raining here in Sf and another rain is coming later today. Have a wonderful visit with Jackie!
Have a wonderful trip. I get that way sometimes when it’s just me and my thoughts, but focus on the beautiful trip and the reward at the end–Jackie!
If it wouldn’t make driving the rest of the way a little more risky I would recommend stopping in SLO for some wine tasting. I love that drive up north, safe travels to you!
cindy w says:
I’m sure the drive will be good for your soul. And so will the extra time with Jackie! Hope you have a fantastic weekend. xoxo
Have a safe and fun trip. Play some up upbeat favorites and if you start finding yourself having thoughts you’d rather not and you have bluetooth, call someone to chat with. I do this on long trips (I make 13 hour drives solo more often than I’d like) and it does help break up the monotony.
Just think of all the “top of your lungs” singing you can do
Enjoy the roadtrip, enjoy your time with Jackie!.
enjoy your time with jackie! and consider audiobooks. I know it sounds dorky, but 8 hours is about the length of a book. I have taken a lot of long car trips by myself and have found that an audiobook keeps me awake and focused more than music (your mind can wander too easily).
Lisa F. says:
Safe travels, Heather! I hope you have a wonderful, EPIC, unforgettable visit with your dear friend.
Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts says:
I understand your concerns – esp. given this time of year – but I really like Mike’s approach. Sounds like heaven to me. Crab cakes, ice cream, and scenic vistas? Enjoy it!
I’ve been booking it on tape for a few months now (ever since my solo road trip sans children in November). Let me recomend the Janet Evanovich series of Stephanie Plum novels (if you haven’t read them). Very light hearted and interesting. The drive will fly by and they don’t have heavy plots so your mind should keep from wondering to the dark moments. Have safe travels.
Susan C. says:
And some of those books will have you absolutely laughing so hard you cry!
Heather, I treasure my solo car trips because it is “my” time to clear my head, listen to all of the music that Hubby doesn’t like and know that I can stop/not stop on my schedule. It’s a selfish indulgence and at the end of your trip, you get to see Jackie!.
Enjoy your trip, but promise us you’ll stop along the way and do something absolutely fun – like cake for lunch.
Yes — funny audiobooks is such a good idea. Is there an audiobook for Tinay Fey’s Bossypants yet? I’ve heard it is laugh out loud funny…
Yes, and it is so funny. I listened to it in the car and I’m sure other drivers thought I was crazy. It is narrated by Tina herself so you can imagine how great it is.
Amanda C says:
Safe travels! And download Rob Lowe’s Autobiography, you wont regret it!
Have a great trip! I remember my first solo trip that was long, I was nervous, but it was truly wonderful.
Tammy M. says:
Have fun and give Jackie! a hug from a virtual friend she and you have never met. Seriously, I want you to hug her for me. That way, you both get a hug from me.
I agree with this totally. An enjoyable road trip + 2 virtual hugs for you!
So glad to hear that you get this extra time with Jackie! Enjoy the road trip — Mike had some great advice
Audiobook recommendation – Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Take care and hope your visit with Jackie! is special.
Sonya aka Glam-O-Mommy says:
Heather, I hope you have a safe trip and a special visit with Jackie! I don’t know if you like listening to comedy albums, but I have several downloaded on my iPod and when I need to lift my mood, I put those on. I also listen to them in the dentist chair to take my mind off whatever terror the dentist is inflicting on me that day. Jim Gaffigan, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall…light, funny comedy, you know? Audiobooks are a great idea too…maybe there’s one for Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling’s recent books? Those would be super funny!
Have a great time.
I second the vote for Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. The audio books are good for long rides and you will burst out laughing.
Have a safe drive! And I’d recommend Bossypants, if you’re a Tina Fey fan. I just started it, and it’s pretty funny. Enjoy your weekend with your friend, and take good care.
I’m sure it will be a great hug. Enjoy your time with Jackie!
Nancy Smego says:
I hear you on that drive. I’ve made it countless times, but never alone either. Mike’s right — try to just focus on what a great time you and Jackie! will have and enjoy the beautiful scenery. I love that coast. Are you doing PCH or going up I-5? I-5 is quicker but uglier, as you know. Don’t forget to stop at the Madonna Inn for some truffles. My favorite part of that trip.
Nancy Smego says:
In fact, that just reminded me. In need to Pin that place on Pintrest. Thanks to you I am obsessed with it.
I road-trip solo about once a year, and it is great. Total control of the radio and your decisions about when and where to stop is a glorious thing. I’m sorry this trip will also be sad, the kind of sad that something trivial like control of the radio dial can’t overcome, but do enjoy this space to be you, without obligations to other (besides, you know, being a safe driver). It’s healing, and refreshing, and makes you appreciate the destination so much more.
Amy Collen says:
I love love love that drive and I took the 5! LOL! Books on Tape are always necessary when traveling alone :). Yes, DEFINITELY go to the Madonna Inn, if you haven’t been there before it is a real treat!
If you take the 5 back (lot lot faster) then stop at Harris Ranch. They have a nice little restaurant, store, and candy shop :).
Take care! I am thinking good thoughts for Jackie!
I highly suggest an audio book. The drive up and down will fly by while you enjoy a good story. Best way to distract a brain EVER. Have a good trip!
My dad and most of his side of the family live 8 hours away. I made the trip twice last summer (once alone, once with a cat- not much company). I listened to music CDs and the radio but it got a little old. Next time I’m definitely indulging in some of the audiobooks on my Amazon wish list! I hope you have a wonderful time with Jackie!
Have a safe trip & enjoy your time together.
I RELISH time like that alone, especially because I like to drive (and sing.) PLEASE do the same and keep Mike’s approach in the forefront of your thoughts. Safe travels and much love to you and Jackie!
Jessica Makuh says:
What a great post! I hope you have a wonderful time! I’m glad Mike reminded you of the good things about being in the car alone. When I’m in the car alone, I love being able to play my own music instead of Laurie Berkner, even though I like her kid songs. It’s great to be able to eat a snack like an ice cream cone since you can’t do that with your toddler in the car. I look forward to the day when my kids are old enough to eat ice cream in the car. And it is such a pain to stop to go to the bathroom on a long trip when you have to get a child out of the car! Ugh!
I also related to your feelings about being alone in the car. My daughter, Lauren, has a heart defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. She is 3. I started reading your blog 2 years ago because I have a medically fragile child. Lauren is having her third heart surgery in June, her first since April 2009. I am terrified. It will be so much harder then when she was an infant. This surgery, the Fontan, has a good success rate, but so many things can go wrong: stroke, plastic bronchitis, excessive fluid drainage, liver or kidney damage, heart failure, not to mention I could lose my baby. The anxiety, depression, and panic attacks have begun. I often cry in the car when I’m alone and lately, since 2012 began, it’s happening more often. What is it about driving alone that makes me cry? I think it’s because you can drive without having to think and then your mind can wander. I am amazed at how much my mind wanders to Lauren. I am also not alone to cry very often, usually only when in the car. Sometimes I think that crying session is good for me. I get it over with and I feel better, I have released some frustrations. Other times, I think it’s detrimental to my mental health to allow myself to wallow. I hope you don’t cry in the car. We should make the car a place where we think only happy thoughts, not bad ones that make us cry.
You mentioned liking Harry Potter a couple times before – download one those books for the drive! Get lost in that world.
Enjoy the time alone. Make a playlist of your favorite tunes, put the AC (or heat, but you probably don’t need that) to the way YOU like it, and just enjoy.
And also give Jackie!(!!) extra hugs from all of us
Safe travels Heather!
Enjoy your time with Jackie!!!
I used to make the drive from Denver to Texas pretty frequently and I highly recommend downloading an audiobook (even if that makes me sound really nerdy). I’m a murder mystery junkie and there are lots available through Itunes. I really liked listening to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books (even though I’d read them twice before). Not exactly “light-hearted” but it will keep your interest for the 8 hours. Good luck and enjoy your time with Jackie!.
Amy Stone says:
Pismo Beach is one of my most favorite places in the world! How about a stop there for that crab cake and beautiful views of the Pacific! Drive safe and enjoy your time with Jackie!
I love road trips. Whenever I needed to clear my head when I was single I would hop in the car and go. Drove from San Diego to Washington state to visit friends one year and it was great. You can stop where you want to stop, eat whatever you want and like you said…pee alone!!! Put some music one, relax and enjoy the views of the ocean.
I wanted to suggest books to listen to but while excellent, they are dark. I would get something silly but fun, like the Twilight series. Or The Host by Stephanie Meyer. Probably too late as you are on road but maybe for the trip back.
I read the blog a lot and comment little. I want to reach through the computer and hug you and Jackie. Please have fun. Please don’t dwell too much. Some is healthy and allowed. Then do as Mike suggested.
Sending lots of love and hopes for a beautiful ride, your way. I know I don’t know you or your friend personally but you both have a special place in my heart and are always in my prayers. When I think of the song “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, I can’t help but think of your friend Jackie — she is a one in a million kind of gal — you get to treasure that so fully and so unconditionally.
Enjoy your surroundings and know that you and your friend Jackie will forever be surrounded by our love, support and prayers, especially when you need them most.
Hugs to you and Jackie!
Has Mike been reading The Power of Now? Hope you enjoyed your road trip and most of all that you and Jackie enjoy your time together.
Mike is a wise man. Try to look for the good in it all. I hope you didn’t get caught in that horrid downpour that we had here in Sacramento. I spent last weekend in San Francisco. The weather was great. Make the most of your visit with Jackie! and let her know we’re praying for her.
The car and the shower were/are the hardest times for me since my sons died. Like you I fear for where my thoughts will go.
I always have an audio book in the car. The Harry Potter books are great to listen to. Jennifer Weiner books (in her shoes, good in bed, etc.) are also good.
Safe travels. Enjoy peeing by yourself :-). Sending peace and hugs to you and Jackie!. Take care.
I know this isn’t an easy trip but I hope you can make the most of the time with Jackie and time alone.
Don’t come home without at least one totally decadent, self indulgent pictured. You’ve earned it, lady. And be safe.
Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] says:
I’m not a big fan of driving long distances, but when I have to do it, I listen to a book on tape. It’s totally easy to get lost in a book and not even realize you’re there.
safe travels! i too am prone to obsessing about sad things in my life on long drives, which tends to turn me into a wreck behind the wheel! what helps me is listening to the NPR show This American Life. I think that listening to any kind of spoken radio show or book on tape that interests you will help you keep your mind off of the sad stuff and focused on the drive. i hope that helps!
Have a safe trip, friend. Give Jackie! a hug from me!!
I hope you have a safe drive to and from San Francisco. Enjoy your visit with Jackie!, I am sure there will be a lot of smiles and laughter. Just you being there for her will be a major boost for you both. Keeping you both in my thoughts.