Kerouac Was a Crappy Writer, But He Sure Knew How to Take Road Trips

There is nothing quite like being on the road.

The romanticism of endless opportunities.
You may be behind the wheel, but you are purposely putting yourself out there for anything to happen.
You need it to.
Tomorrow I embark on another. Through Western Texas and all of New Mexico along with my traveling companion, my mother.
Below are some snippets from angsty journal entries I kept during hopeful self-discovery road trips where I needed answers to plop down on the road in front of me.
*Warning– I sound like a typical 24 year-old whiny little bitch.

-San Francisco to Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway, April 2008
I had left my job in LA and had become completely lost and disillusioned with the city, my age, and my goals. I thought that a spontaneous solo drive up the coast might give me some answers:
“With the 101 came assurance that I would get to my destination in a timely manner. But on the Pacific Coast Highway, after every stretch of nothingness came another stretch of nothingness, and the sight no longer was beautiful to me. It made me angry. Relief came when I got to Monterey and I sped back to the 101 as fast as I could. Having extended my journey to San Francisco by another three hours because of the PCH, I arrived into town just as the sun was going down. Five minutes in, my child-like wonderment dissipated when I realized that I had no idea where I was going to stay or why I was even there in the first place. It was Saturday night and at the red lights I watched from my car window all the happy people exiting restaurants and walking in groups down the street. Laughing, holding hands, pissing in alleyways. I wanted to be a part of that. I imagined rolling down the window and saying, “Excuse me guys, can you please tell me where I’m gong?” I spent four hours wandering the city then left. I was rattled with angst and frustration. At myself, at the city, at the ocean, at the happy people walking down the street, and at the damn bellied up seals lazily laying in the sun earlier that afternoon. What was I looking for and why I did I waste so much time and money trying to find it?

That about sums up my early 20’s right there.

As I made my way back down the 101 less than 4 hours from the last time I saw it, I concentrated on what I could have possibly gotten out that trip. No answers rolled down from the cliff sides, came in the form of talk radio, or splayed across the road signs. Instead, I was stuck with the endless road that will bring me back to square one.”

-Grand Canyon to the Salton Sea on Route 10, June 2008-
I love ruin porn?
“You know the days when you hate everything? When you want to run away from it all? Run to a toxic wasteland hidden in the deserts of Southern California where the beaches are made of fish bones and the air smells of decaying wildlife? Where houses and public spaces have been abandoned and the only sign of life is the occasional farm truck that kicks up dust in the empty streets?

I know I do.

However, I quickly learned after visiting such a place, The Salton Sea, that 110 degree California desert + dead fish = millions of flies and a smell unlike anything you’ve ever smelled in your life. Plus living amongst self-governed meth manufactures without running water is kind of a huge turn-off.”

-Los Angeles to Austin on Route 10, September 2008
One day I put what I could in my car and left Los Angeles, a town I had worked and lived in for five years, and moved to a city I had never been to nor knew anyone who lived there:

“As I watch the sights that I’ve seen a million times before grow smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror, I think about all my failures in this city. And a boy.

My failures in Los Angeles and failure with the boy are insignificant to the greater picture of this move, yet they’re all I can think about…

…It’s 7PM and I haven’t eaten all day save for some Doritos and a Vitamin Water. The lights of downtown Phoenix begin to blur, not because of tears but because of hunger on all accounts.

I need to pull over.

I turn off of the next exit. It’s dark. It doesn’t look promising. A Holiday Inn, a Love’s, and a Flying J. Then like a guiding flare- the white and yellow sign of a Cracker Barrel appears. For the first time on this trip, I smile. I scream. I cheer. I pound the steering wheel. My shaky hands turn the wheel into the parking lot and I’m so overwhelmed with emotion, I can’t get out of the car.

I float into the restaurant feeling complete disconnect from everything. I stare, open-mouthed at the Christmas ornaments adorning the wall as I wait to be seated. I’m lead to a table where I write this and anxiously wait to purge my food and my thoughts.”

-Los Angeles to Austin on Route 10, September 2008

Same drive as before, stopped at truck stop motel in New Mexico:
“I slept in Lordsburg, New Mexico last night. A railroad town, a border town. Not a ghost walked the lone sidewalk. I drove down the main drag to one cheap motel after another. Neglected and outdated signs guiding the way. They all looked the same. Midnight and stucco. Cream and rot. Somewhere in the dark, I spotted a florescent beacon that told me that was where I was to sleep.
It takes a lot to work up my nerves, but I felt as if I’d seen my motel room before. In a movie where cops discover the body of a young woman lying on the floor. I checked underneath the bed but turned up only black beetles and locusts. The room had a distinct smell, one I couldn’t quite pinpoint. It would be easy to say it smelled musty, but it didn’t. It smelled frightening. Like sex and death. And I longed for someone to be here with me. Dangerous, macabre motel rooms should not be experienced alone, but with cheap liquor and some else to feel the scratch of polyester comforters on bare skin.”

Do you enjoy road trips? What is your favorite memory?

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply IT September 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    As a kid, back in the days before seat belts were even invented, road trips were a ball. For one thing we didn't have our a$$e$ planted in one spot so we'd get monkey butt. Every restaurant was a new adventure because they weren't cookie cutter franchise or chain restaurants and most used real ice cream to make milkshakes. Oh, and there were the Burma Shave signs.

  • Reply Hipstercrite September 24, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    @IT- I can only imagine what road trips were like each year previous to the next. More nature, less commercial. What is a Burma Shave?!

  • Reply theTsaritsa September 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I like road trips– the most recent one I went on was with my parents while they were out here visiting me. We drove down from SF to Big Sur on that two-lane winding highway over the ocean. It was beautiful, but the trip was funny. I felt like I was a kid again sitting in the back seat, except I was the one breaking up the arguments between my parents.

  • Reply WILDasaMINK September 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    YUM Cracker Barrel! Cracker Barrel is what all good road trips are made of! That's all I'm saying.
    As for your comment on my blog–thanks so much, I do like my prints. And I have no one (save for a trusty friend or someone when we're out on the weekends) to snap my pics, the BF is now the EX-BF (and he really wasn't all that great at taking picture anyhow)…so its just me and my friend, Mr. Tripod, taking the pics.

  • Reply Tom September 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    (Note to self. Burn old journals when I get home)

    Best road trip ever was when I flew to San Francisco in 1992, and helped a friend drive an Alfa Romeo spider back to Chicago. And by "helped" I mean, sat in the passenger seat, watching the scenery, and getting a sunburn. We drove down the coast, then across the old Route 66 route. We had to put the top up in Needles when it hit 120 degrees. Later that night we had the heater on, with teeth chattering as we pulled into Flagstaff in 40 degree temps.

  • Reply SCOTTTAMMARO September 24, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Reading this reminded me of our February 1982 road trip from Concord, CA to Los Angeles. Inspired from a derangement of the senses, our then psychedelic crew, down Highway One darkness, the 4 of us screamingmad. Taking a piss at Pismo Beach (grey skies) in the morning, grocery store in Beverly Hills, Universal Studio tour (that shark), drank drink drunk, sleeping in the car somewhere…thought we saw a drifter hiding behind the cacti, but could be wrong…

  • Reply Rob September 25, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Morro Bay to Monterey on a sunny July Sunday. The most fun, intense drive of my life.

  • Reply Emily September 25, 2010 at 1:24 am

    I need to travel, now that I have a job I want to visit America asap. I think you're LA to Austin writing is the best, you can really feel the emotion in it.

  • Reply William September 25, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    My favourite road trip would be from Seattle to Anchorage. Five solitary days driving through true wilderness, with only me, caribou, bear, and other wild creatures. Places that rarely see outsiders. Silence unlike anything I've ever experienced before or since.
    Simply amazing.

  • Reply Benny September 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I feel like road trips are more epic in the southwest. The few times I've been to that part of the country, I remember feeling like the endless open space was awe-inspiring in a way that lush green mountains have never been for me. There's also something comforting about the little towns that clearly came into being because of the road that you're on. It made me appreciate why everyone talks about driving "out west." It really is that cool!

  • Reply Annabell September 29, 2010 at 3:18 am

    lol i love jack, but your title cracked me up

  • Reply cj Schlottman September 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Hey Lauren! I'm, baa-ack!

    Sorry to be gone so long, but my life has not been by own for a couple of months. I think I have a loose grip on things now, though, so here I am.

    As usual, I am amazed at your talent. Even your journals read like poetry.

    I like a good road trip, myself. The last one I took was to Baton Rouge back in April. I took a bunch of photos and did interviews at yard sales with the idea of publishing a blog post about the trip. Alas, I only had my phone camera, and the photos were crappy and wouldn't sync to my Mac. Now I keep my good camera in my purse at all times. No more missed opportunities.

  • Reply melanie December 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    lordsburg! i stopped in this town for lunch and a trip into a weird antique shop…you are right. ghost. town. nice to think of that memory.

  • Reply Anonymous January 21, 2011 at 8:02 am


    Recent year has been for a lot of of us very hard. A lot of problems, few leisure. So I wish you all the best in new year. Don't miss [url=http://www.xn--porednictwo-wizowe-7nd.nowaruda.pl/wizy-do-kazachstanu]do kazachstanu wizy[/url] this year!


  • Leave a Reply