GOTH 2023 Part I: I’m Doing This Shit Again

Greetings ghosting, friends and strangers.

It’s been almost five years since the last iteration of this project. Don’t get me wrong, my passion for road travel has not waned since then. In the intervening years I’ve embarked on a few long, region-spanning auto adventures, most of which were quite eventful and endearing (I’m thinking particularly of a 12-hour drive from Wisconsin to Ontario, driven on tires that were nearly bald and I’m lucky didn’t blow up in the middle of some desolate Canadian highway).

Yet somehow none of these micro-trips felt worthy of the Ghost on the Highway treatment, or perhaps I was too lazy or cowardly to think of them that way. In any case it’s been a long time since I had the opportunity for a true, extended journey into the unknown, to fuck off from social responsibility and experience the unique jou of being a privileged, untethered vagabond.

But now I have that opportunity again and something within me knew it would be a shame to waste it. The circumstances under which this opportunity arose weren’t exactly pleasant. This spring I quit my job after experiencing burnout, and then experienced the dissolution of a relationship before I could quite get back on my feet again. I don’t mean to dwell on my own sob story, only to provide some context as to why the hell I would want to do this again.

My stash of Road Food, including 5 bags of homemade trail mix.

I don’t even have the route fully formed this time. I know I’m going to start out headed West toward Nebraska, then dip down to New Mexico and California to visit family and friends. Beyond that, however, I’m keeping things deliberately loose. I want to give myself the freedom to call an audible, to do what feels right at the moment. This adventure will be half-improvised; I don’t know exactly how long it’ll run or what shape it’ll take.

I did give myself one rule, however: I’m going to choose hotels and motels over Airbnbs as often as possible. Nothing against any of the Airbnb hosts I’ve had in the past (well, for the most part) but whether it’s defiance or a weird nostalgia I feel compelled to patronize this archaic and sadly disrespected institution of American culture. So yeah, expect a lot of comments about grimy wallpaper and shady meth-happy neighbors. I personally can’t wait.

My new weapon of choice: a 2016 Toyota Camry with just under 100k miles. Sadly my trusty Impala from previous ventures bit the dust last winter.

There are a lot of reasons I’m doing thus. I want some fun, I want to see some friends, I want to clear my head after an especially difficult year. But most of all I think I want to prove to myself that I still can. The older I get (I’m 35 now) the more I look at something like this and feel conscious of all the things that can go wrong, all the reasons I should hold back and curtail my own animus.

But I have to fight that. It’s not healthy, not good for one’s creativity. So yeah, I’m hitting the road again and I’m going to blog about all the random strange bullshit I find. This is the unnecessary sequel that no one asked for but gets forced down the production line anyway.

I hope we’ll both get something out of it.

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