Ever get in the car and start driving, even though you have no particular destination? You just want to drive. Get out, find some unfamiliar back roads and just see where they take you. I do this quite a bit. I’ve always been a bit of a night prowler. Over the years, I’ve had jobs where I’ve worked second and third shifts. It screws up my sleep pattern pretty good (after working graves a few years ago, I’m permanently damaged for regular sleep). When I can’t sleep, I get out and take a drive.
Several years ago, my pattern was pretty simple. I’d get on I-465—the expressway that rings Indianapolis—and drive the full circle. It took about 45 minutes to complete the circle and was a good, Zen exercise to clear my head.
These days, I prefer a much different routine: getting lost. More often than not, I’ll find the roads less traveled (by me, at least) and see where they lead. I’ll also make my way to downtown, just because I still like to see the buildings and whatnot. But my favorite drives are the ones where I honestly have no idea what lies around the very next bend.
No, I’ve never gotten so lost that I had to activate OnStar to find my way home, but there were a couple times when I truly had no idea how far away from the city I’d gotten. I sometimes go through small burgs outside of Indy and see things that make me smile for their simplicity. For example, tonight, around 2 a.m., I drove past a bakery in Fortville—Tim’s Bakery. It looks like a small, two-bedroom home that’s been converted into a business. The large, front windows give a perfect view of everything in the shop, even when it’s closed. What marvels me: it’s 2 a.m. and Tim (or someone Tim pays) is in the bakery, lights on, making the donuts. It honestly makes me want to stop in sometime and sample his baked goods. I’ll go when he’s open, though.
Other nights, when I just want to sit and be awestruck like a child, I’ll drive out to the airport and watch the planes landing. I’ve always been fascinated watching jets take off and land. And then I start poking around all the access roads at the airport to see where I end up. No, I haven’t ended up on a runway yet. I’m not sure I could talk my way out of that security breach.
I didn’t do a great deal of prowling when I owned my Blazer. It was a bit of a gas hog. But now that I’ve got a swanky Chevy Equinox, the fun of prowling has been rekindled.
So why do I do it? If I’m going to be alone with my thoughts, it’s always more fun when I’m behind the wheel. I’ll get a bottle of water (or Diet Coke), turn on the XM Radio and poke around until I’ve solved all the world’s problems. Note: I always solve the world’s problems. Too bad I don’t have a free hand to write down the solutions. Sorry, gotta be a safe driver. I guess that means I’ll have to go out again tomorrow night and see if I can’t figure it out again.
Sometimes, all it takes for me to figure it out is a midnight drive to nowhere.