My life on the road: watching life roll by from the corner of my eye

Two days of waiting in Casper, Wyoming, $1,200 and two new tires later, we were back on the road. Casper is a small city. It is one of Wyoming's most populated cities. It is a city flanked by mountains and, while we were being held captive by a blown out tire on a holiday weekend, a miserably cold, humid city.

It was a city we were happy to leave.

The man who taught me how to fight once told me that the only thing worse than getting punched is waiting to get punched. This holds true for many things in life. As my wife wheeled us back onto the Interstate, headed south, there was a tension in the air between us. We did not speak. We did little else but listen. Would the rest of our tires prove sound? Was there any indication that they might blow like one of our outer duelies had? When the next blow-out happens would it be one of our steer-tires? How fucked or dead would we be? The answer to this last question: pretty fucked and, depending on the speed we'd be traveling at when the blow-out hit, pretty dead.

Both of us were wondering these things. Neither of us talked about it until after we had stopped for the night.

Long distance trips can be full of new foods and interesting people that make for fond memories. More often, you're left to contend with hours of a ribbon of road cut through the plains mountains and dead towns that lost their vibrance years before you were born. Cities come and go. In an RV, you needn't stop in them. You're self contained: home is always with you. Only when you can't stand another moment of driving, the whimsy of a roadside attraction grabs you, or an emergency forces a stop do you partake. It's during these periods, while my wife is driving, that I work.

Just before we left Alberta, I bought a new mobile workstation to use while I sit in our rig's passenger seat. It provides me with a stable platform to type on while lashed into the only chair in the RV that will keep me from obtaining flight if we're ever involved in an accident. In years past, I'd retire to the back of our rig and set up shop at the kitchen table. Every moment that I didn't lose my balance or have my laptop slide off the table as we rounded a corner was a victory. The new workstation? It's better.

I have, however, found it jarring at times. When I used to work in the back, it was easy to ignore where we were. I had no view of the road. I was focused on my work and keeping the stuff I need for it on the table. Sitting up front, the road is always in what's left of my peripheral vision--a gray and white blur barreling towards me as we tick off the miles to the Mexican border. Sometimes, a change in the color of the asphalt, a car pulling in front of us, or an unavoidable pothole tweaks me enough to look up from my computer's display. Seeing where we are versus where we had been the last time I'd bothered to look has left me feeling disjointed. I'm doing no more work than I was while seated in the back. But I cannot shake the feeling that I am missing out as I work sitting next to my wife. The color of the sky, the slow crawl from a temperate to an arid landscape: scenery I adore as we move from north to south.

Last night we slept at a weigh station, just inside of the New Mexico border. Tonight, we'll rest in Texas.

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