Random Notes and Observations from the Road

This article isn’t about anything specific, just some random notes and observations…

Wawa Trucks

The best convenience store is the one that is open when you need it. That said my favorites are: United Dairy Farmers, Quick Check, Circle K, 7-11 and Wawa.

Delaware might be the most boring state to drive though. Fortunately, it is small.

If you like history and/or war, I recommend Dan Carlin’s Harcore History podcast for long road trips. Particularly when you are stuck for 6 hours in Virginia traffic.

Everyone has unique tastes in music, so I hesitate to recommend any one band. That said, if you like metal or hard rock, Powerman 5000, Hatebreed, Ministry, System of a Down, Clutch, and Pantera make good “I have to drive for 15 hours straight through the night” music.

On that topic, most people’s preference for music seems to be based on 1) the culmination of their own unique life experiences, 2) advice from their family, friends and peers, and 3) the urge to fit in with a group. People don’t choose the circumstances they are born into, so I don’t judge people on their taste in music. I might ask you to lower the volume though. Or turn it up!

North Carolina has the prettiest highways on the east coast. Every mile or so of the road seems to feature a new type of flowering plant. They also have a lot of fireworks supermarkets & adult book stores.

South Carolina’s highways are rough. Georgia’s roads are a mixed bag of bad and good. Mississippi’s roads are bizarre and lumpy (especially around Jackson). Louisiana’s roads seem to be made out of moon craters — did I miss the event when 5 Million meteorites struck the Louisiana road system?

Don’t risk a lukewarm shrimp po’boy.

Generally speaking people in the south are a lot more friendly and polite than people in the north. Arkansas seems to have a lot of nice, friendly people.

I personally think Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy drink are the best beverages of their kind. I always take some with me on a long trip. I also bring plenty of water.

Stay hydrated. Protein will dehydrate you. Caffeine will make you have to take many pee brakes. Sugar will give you a quick boost, but then drag you down physically and emotionally. Don’t eat anything risky, i.e., something that would send you scrambling for a toilet, e.g., cheese, milk products, fish, uncooked meat, etc.

Read a book on 72 hour survival like Cody Lundin’s 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive. The tips inside such a book could help keep you alive if you get stranded.

I live in New Jersey, where you’re not allowed to pump your own gas. When I travel, each gas pump & nozzle presents a new challenge. Some work as easy as a dream. Some are embarrassing nightmares — hopefully I give the locals a good laugh while I try to operate these infernal contraptions.

A Mild Obsession with Fireworks

When you live in a state where personal fireworks are illegal, traveling through states where they are legal can be painful, especially when you have a mild obsession with fireworks. Most males I know develop an obsession with fireworks around the age of 7. Your uncle shows up with a brown bag full of them at a barbecue, hands them out to you and your cousins, and that is when the obsession starts. The ruby red firecracker wrappers and bottle rocket sticks, the fantastic 4 color illustrations on the wrappers, the smell of gun powder, and even the crinkle of firecracker wrapper paper are an enchanting prelude to the glorious sounds and lights contained within each firework. Then you light the fuse and scramble to a safe distance, and then WHOOOOSHHHH, BOOOOOOM or CRACK CRACK POP CRACK BOOM CRACK CRAACK POP BOOOOOM begins. Each firework is an exquisitely wrapped gift with the present of LIGHT, SOUND and DANGER waiting inside. Even the red, white and blue confetti of discharged firecrackers are in their own small way, amazing.

Of course there are those not enchanted by DANGER, the folks who will project their own fears upon you, and tell you that you’ll blow your fingers off or set the roof on fire. So you end up with a state where personal fireworks are illegal. Cowards. Ben Franklin said “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.” Well, perhaps those who sacrifice fire crackers for 10 working fingers deserve neither… or maybe they just need to lighten up.

Every Phantom Fireworks I pass is a reminder of where I live and what I desire.

On this Independence Day, here’s to the States where you can still purchase and detonate even the smallest of fireworks.

Don’t worry too much about me — I still get to see some of the professional fireworks. I saw these across the street from my apartment a few years ago.

Fireworks in Sea Bright NJ on July 1st, 2013 from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.