I love road trips. The longer they are, the better. And when the destination is not so important as the trip there, that’s even better.
I’ve taken many road trips, often in the search of good waves to surf. And several as a family of five, with the latest trip up the coast of Central California.
Time seems to stand still on these trips. My thoughts wander as I stare out the window, and I dream. Stories flood into my head for this blog and elsewhere.
And we talk and listen to music.
It’s the tunes that often come to remind me months and even years later of those very moments out on the road or reaching a beach or a national park. The memories come flooding back vividly with pictures, tastes and smells.
When I was single, my road trips had a diet of my favorite music at the time, or that of my friends. Early on (after my Styx phase, of course), it was punk rock with bands like Bad Brains, Bad Religion, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies – and then U2. But more so, the trips were infused with tunes by Bob Marley, Janis Joplin and Neil Young as we drove our way north to Santa Cruz or south to Mexico in the search of waves. Then came Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, The Levellers and The Waterboys on an eight-month backpacking trip through Europe, thumbing it to surf spots in Ireland and taking buses and trains to hit beaches in England, Scotland, France and Portugal and then further inland without my board to visit Poland, Russia and Hungary.
The music seeps in and drives you along.
Now with three children, my music or that of my wife is not the only music. The kids, all under the age of 10, have a say in what gets played and they can easily sway me through the repetition of “pretty please.” I could squirm at their choices and say, “What’s this?” Or think that it all sounds the same, or that the lyrics suck.
But I’ve learned not to scoff, but to embrace. The lesson came early on with High School Musical.
So on our five-day road trip up through Central California, the albums of Adele, Katy Perry and Lily Allen reined. I discovered some good music. And we as a family came to sing along happily, my two daughters doing a superb sing-along with Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” And what fun it was for all of us to sing Lily Allen’s “Fuck You” as we drove through Carmel Valley and past a couple of Republican stiffs collecting signatures to impeach President Obama.
What could be better than to join the kids in listening to these tunes, to their tunes? It certainly is better than alienating myself from my very own children by scoffing.
So on a latest day trip with another family to Mar de las Pampas on the Argentine coast from our summer home in Pinamar, we blasted a new-to-me One Direction album and the kids sang along loudly and happily as we drove down the highway, and this made me beam.