Road trips are not just a way of getting around airport security

Let me say at the outset that the TSA’s new methods of keeping terrorists off of airplanes don’t bother me in the least. I’m not sure what it is about Americans these days, but for some reason somebody has to make a big deal out of everything, and maybe since it’s a slow news week, this week’s issue of earth-shaking consequence is the TSA’s new body-scanning technology.

To some wag who commented on a Daily Sentinel story this week about the TSA’s plans for the Grand Junction Regional Airport by proclaiming the terrorist the winners, I can only say: Good grief! Yes, some of us do need lives.

We are coming up on a big travel season. By the time you read this I will have experienced first-hand (pun intended, I guess) the TSA’s new procedures. Thanksgiving this year involved a quick flight to Wyoming to see the daughter and son-in-law. That means I got to go through the TSA’s new procedures. I’m pretty sure the Earth will continue to spin on its axis.

The whole brouhaha got me to thinking about travel in general and road trips in particular. A road trip, by the way, is the option for all of you folks who are hyperventilating about the new procedures. I, and most air travelers, recommend you travel by car rather than inconvenience those of us who opt not to work ourselves into a dither about airport security.

A road trip is also something on my agenda. Not because the terrorists won. I refuse to give them anything. But because at this ripe old age at which Kathy and I have arrived we still are intrigued by the romance of the open road and all that Kerouacishness.

The son of a friend is getting married on the West Coast early next year. It’s been a while since the Herzogs have traveled much farther than the Front Range or a neighboring state by car. Since vacation time isn’t as precious for retirees as it is for those in the workforce, we’ve decided to drive.

Road trips in the days of my youth went something like this. Remember, these were the days of no seatbelts, no heated seats, no fuel injection (beware of high mountain roads), no lumbar support, no GPS, no Weather Channel, no air-conditioning, no $3-a-gallon gasoline, no cell phones to call ahead and order pizza, no money for rooms and not a lot of common sense.

It was a simple procedure. We’d just pile as many buddies as possible into a car and drive all night listening to AM radio. The destination was usually a football game, or a cheesy resort, or the nearest major metropolis. We survived on convenience-store food, if anything. Then we’d drive back. All of that was usually accomplished between the end of classes on Friday and the beginning of classes on Monday. There are plenty of anecdotes to be told about such trips, but it is probably best not to do so.

Let’s just write them off to the excesses of youth, inspired by “On the Road” and best left there.

Which is to say the road trip circa 2011 is more likely to be filled with easy days of driving no more than a (very) few hundred miles, followed by dinner in establishments that were well outside the realm of possibilities 40 years ago. Then off to a little cable television in a good hotel room and a good night’s sleep. There will be no Dean Moriarty in our story.

There will be the lure of the open road and the splendor of the landscape, and, we hope, some kind of new adventure every day. Even if it’s only a hotel we’ve never stayed in before.

While we’re busy consulting our GPS to make sure we’re not lost, hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow travelers will leave contrails overhead. They will have survived the body-screening scanners of the TSA and will arrive at their destinations long before we do. I hope when we return home we can say to those airborne brothers and sisters that they missed something. We’ll see.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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