i notice my advancing years most starkly when traveling. for one thing, i can't drive like i used to 20 years ago. back then, i would do a 38-hour drive (san francisco to edmonton, for instance) in about 43 hours, stopping on the side of a nevada two-lane for a wee nap or two. now, if i was so foolish as to "nap" on the side of the road, i would fall immediately into a deep yet fitful state complete with snoring and drooling. the state trooper would find it hard to so hard to wake me he'd just leave me there for the next shift to rouse. then, i would spend all day griping about how my back hurts, and my neck is kinked, and i slept funny on my arm.
so when we don't camp, we stay in motels.
but not just any motels. i used to be of "the chaper the better" view where motels are concerned: why overpay? and then there was the kitsch aesthetic. i would thrill to the bedspreads you can slide right off of, the plastic-wrapped plastic cup. now, i think of things like the quality of the mattress. hampton inn is a good chain, we've discovered -- a chain! -- because of their special serta bed. (don't worry, we're not quite going to order one for home yet, though if you want to....)
and what about noise? used to be, i could sleep through anything. now: well, one morning in moab i shushed the frat party next door with a single teacher-look. old lady! back in yakima two years ago, i reached in through the truck window where a younger version of myself was napping and switched the radio right off. we're in room 214 now, but we were first checked into 208. i had us moved somewhere quieter.
the finickiness of old age extends to road food. no longer for me the big greasy spoon breakfast. i will burp all the way to the next town. also, it makes me sleepy. and the last thing i need is an order of hash browns on my hips ... forever.
driving itself is more tiring now, and more stressful. it takes more effort to keep my eyes on the road. my eyes tire faster. my neck cricks and my back aches. i know more than i did two decades ago, know that i make mistakes and that others make mistakes, and that mistakes are always worse at 60 miles an hour. saddest of all -- i will admit this here, once, and then go back to pinning our routes on mo -- i understand the attraction of the interstate.
of course, there are compensating virtues. for one thing, i've woken up at 6am this fine sunday morning, without an alarm. even after blogging i should be able to make it to smitty's for the senior breakfast special.