Two weekends ago I experienced a strange, almost extraterrestrial circumstance. A hundred bright red eyes kept blinking at me, in unison, as I took a highway off-ramp.
Blink. Blink. Blink. At exact intervals, for equal amounts of time, the sky lit up with the gaze of a hundred stationary Cyclops.
I mean, windmills. Or whatever they call those monuments to Energy 2.0.
The highway off-ramp was a byproduct of an impromptu visit I made to my cousins in Indiana. These are the same cousins to whom I’ve only grown closer as we’ve matured into adulthood, and some of the few people on earth I’m completely comfortable around. So even though they live almost four hours away (by car), it’s worth the eight-hour round trip to see them more than the minimum four times a year. And now that most of us are of driving age, we can exercise our free will to make that happen. Three cheers for Wesleyan Arminianism!
Partly because the visit was relatively unpremeditated, I could not take either of my siblings, or my parents for that matter. No biggie—there are just two bad things about taking a road trip by myself. One is that I have to drive the whole way. I’d much rather be chauffered around my whole life. In fact, one of the absolutely-imperative-non-negotiables on my “perfect husband” checklist is that he must enjoy driving. And filling up the tank.
The other thing about road tripping alone is that I have to entertain myself. My sister can’t sit in the side seat and tell me silly stories if she’s stuck back home in clinicals or wherever. But the CD player really saves the day here.
First came the Billy Joel CD. I’ve probably listened to this thing enough to sing the lyrics to all the songs on it, except for the first track, which isn’t so much my style. (Why do we still call songs on CDs or mp3 albums “tracks”? Audio hasn’t been played from physical tracks since, like, the 1980s.) I thought, later, that it might not have been the smartest thing to sing along to everything I heard from my CD player on this road trip. I could’ve ended up with a raspy voice the whole weekend.
But that didn’t stop me from popping in a Rich Mullins CD or one from The Association. Probably a Stephen Curtis Chapman compilation too. He sounds overproduced though. (See how audio-savvy I am? tossing around the technical jargon like I know what it means!)
Almost an hour and a half before my journey’s end, I decided to quit the CD kick and catch up on my podcasts. This one podcast I follow has episodes over an hour long, so the only other time I listen to them is when I’m washing a week’s worth of dishes or trying (and failing) to go to sleep.
No headphones allowed on the driver when she’s driving, you know, so I’ve learned to prop my iPhone-cum-iPod on my shoulder, sometimes anchored by the seatbelt, sometimes in my collar. That way the speaker is close enough to my ear to be heard above the 3,000-plus revolutions per minute.
I wish I had one of those doohickeys that plugs your iPod into the cigarette lighter and broadcasts its signal on a short-range FM channel. (The range? Probably about six inches. You don’t even need a ham radio license.) I could listen to podcasts over the car’s audio system and spare myself a shoulder ache from balancing the iPod. Go-go-gadget personal audio haven! But you know what? Being creative is cheaper than buying gadgets.
I might even be able to wait until iPod Doohickey 2.0 is released before my shoulder locks up. It’ll be the green version—getting its power from miniature windmills propelled by your car’s heat/AC system.
It’ll even have a little red light so the miniature planes don’t smash into it.