This past weekend I went to get a burger. Under most circumstances this would not be remarkable at all; most of us would eat a burger pretty regularly, whether it is Cookout late at night or a less than premium option from one of Tech’s dining halls. This weekend, however, was fall break, and the burger was located 781 miles away at an In-N-Out restaurant in Dallas, Texas.
The idea was proposed by one of my friends earlier that week, and by Wednesday we had a solid group of eight people in two cars, all prepared to make the ridiculous into reality. We left from Tech on Friday afternoon, and were soon on Interstate 20 heading west, with full hearts and empty stomachs.
Road trips, as with any long journey, pass through phases. On this trip, our phases aligned with the states we drove through. In Alabama, we were hopeful. We had just started driving, and had a long road ahead of us, but somehow our goal felt so close we could taste it. I chalk this up to the fact that even though we knew how far it was and how long it would take, we did not have a concept of what that would feel like. It is very easy to talk about driving for a full 24 hours before or after it is passed, but it feels like an eternity in the middle. In Alabama, though, we passed things like Talladega Motor Speedway and a sign advertising rides in a military tank that helped to liven the mood.
The second phase took place in Mississippi. It was by far the quietest part of the trip, as we were adjusting to the reality of being in a car for an extended period of time, and the need to sleep was catching up with us. We slept in shifts, and managed to make it through the state quickly enough. In Louisiana, the delirium of a long ride fully set in, especially after we settled into a game of leapfrog with a truck, speeding past them and being overtaken for dozens of miles.
It fully caught up with us when we got to our hotel in Shreveport, Louisiana, where our midnight check in led to eight of us in a room with only one bed. We slept on whatever — chairs, towels and tables were available, and each of us passed out for a full eight hours after our twelve hour drive.
The next day, we completed the last leg of our journey, driving the last five hours into Dallas, and into In-N-Out. Whatever you may have heard about their burgers, I guarantee that nothing has tasted as good to me as that burger that I had driven hundreds of miles across three states for.
I made sure to get my money’s worth — we all did. After an hour long lunch, all eight of us got back into our cars and began the long journey home over the same interstate we had traveled the day before.
Beyond the fact that this trip was absolutely ridiculous, as I was told time and time again by parents, friends and even some of the other customers at the In-N-Out, it also represents one of those rare opportunities to do something spontaneous. We only have this kind of liberty for a few years during and after college before the pressures of career or family decimate our free time.
Doing something outrageous while we still can is a good way to ensure that once our free time has run out and we have settled into our comfortable routine we have something to look back on fondly. It is also a good reminder to not settle into a routine just yet, to enjoy yourself more and say yes to the extraordinary.