Miles Per Hour

I have always enjoyed a spontaneous adventure, whether it be a drive to the neighboring metropolis at the whim of a spinning coin or a pilgrimage to San Pedro, CA to drink on a poet’s grave — but our upcoming excursion has had an extensive preparation process, involving everything from purchasing gear to recording with our band Appleseeds to moving out of our flat in Milwaukee. While we are away in the woods, we’re storing our stuff at Milam’s parent’s place.

With the least amount of physical possessions we have ever moved (in the shortest length of time we’ve ever loaded out of a house), we packed up into a rented moving truck and began the drive north. I lead the caravan at the helm of the hatchback.

For about 15 miles.

Upon departure from our flat I had ingested no lunch and a meager amount of coffee. Between there and the gas station I had a few bites of a takeaway sandwich and sip of some cafe drip. I wasn’t surprised that I had forgotten to open up the fuel tank cover for a fillup, though I was sure that I had pulled a lever – but feeling rushed and ready to get on the road (and finish my sandwich, which was waiting patiently in the passenger’s seat), I didn’t give it a second thought.

I settled into the rhythm of our trek to Point – sandwich devoured, cruise being controlled, radio dialed into WMSE 91.7, a steady rain. Grazing on my coffee, I happily thought how painless of a moving experience this had been thus far – and then, the windshield was shattered by the hood of the car, cast up by a gust of wind under the overpass.

I had pulled a lever when I went to gas up after all – the hood latch.

My first thought was, “Alright, don’t die.”
Then, “Don’t wreck the car anymore than you already have.”
And then, “I should probably put down my coffee.”

My adrenaline is crazy-potent, trigger-happy, and is usually set off by minor practical jokes. When it’s released and has nowhere to go, it then proceeds to throw a tantrum through my nervous system: “COME ON, GUYS, WHERE’S THE ACTION?!” As a result, I come across as paranoid and overly anxious – not the kind of person you would want in an emergency situation. But in an actual life-threatening situation, my adrenaline is SO HAPPY to have meaningful and relevant application, and instead of throwing a hissy-fit it becomes a seasoned and smooth operator.

So, I did not die (bonus points: did not kill or injure anyone else), I did not wreck the car anymore than I already had, and I totally got to finish my coffee when I got back on the road.

For as well as I handled everything, I most definitely was shaken – I ended up getting separated from Milam at a fork in the road and headed in the wrong direction, which is very uncharacteristic of me. It’s not that I got lost – I knew where I was and where I needed to go – I just took a much more scenic route, putting me about 20 miles behind Milam and the moving truck.

As I cut across WI-28 to get back on the correct route, the rain turned to a sprinkle, the sun saturated the fields and farmhouses, and the cows had an afternoon snack. It was a lovely and relaxing detour, and I wasn’t upset that I’d gotten so far behind. 20 miles is nothing when you’re driving 60+ miles per hour. Pretty soon we’ll be moving at a rate of less than 20 miles a DAY. I wonder what it would be like if we were 20 miles apart on foot.


The circumstances of this particular separation have no relevance on the route we’re about to walk, so I think we’ll be okay. Here I should insert a moral lesson on how seemingly insignificant details, when overlooked, can be of some consequence (I wonder what the equivalent of a hood-latch is on the trail?). Also, don’t drive hungry. Enjoy the scenery when you get sidetracked.


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