Rubber Tramps in Training


(photo: Molly V / flickr)

By L.E. Swenson

We love to get away. We love to get in our gas-guzzling SUV and drive for hours to some remote location and stop for a while. Usually we have a reason to go, but we have taken some trips on spec.

We just love the road trip. I hate to fly. My wife less so, but I have made something of a road convert out of her. It’s the meditative freedom of long stretches on the open road. She has embraced the journey, and we tend to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. We also get lost a lot. It makes for spontaneous and unplanned adventures.

Most recently, en route to Myrtle Beach, I made an ill-advised exit from the interstate in search of gas. I had waited too long to refuel and although there were no road signs showing gas or food or lodging at the exit off 95, I took it anyway.

We found ourselves in the middle of what appeared to be fields of cabbage on an unlit country road in the backwaters of Northern Carolina. The sun seemed to decide to take that exact moment to set completely, leaving us benighted with an empty gas tank and not an Exxon in sight. Tech to the rescue. In older times I would have flagged down the truck passing us precariously on the narrow road and asked for directions (I am not that guy, I do ask when I have to). I pulled out the trusty Iphone and went on yelp, typed the word “gas,” and yelp led us to the nearest open gas station. No easy task on a rainy Sunday night in the North Carolina countryside.

It was great. The Gas Station That Time Forgot. The pumps seemed to be circa 1981 and the little country convenience served the obviously hard-working folk of the area. 

gas pump in NC

(gas pump in NC, photo: Erica Herd)

Had I not been an idiot, we would not have had this great charming experience. We took local roads from there all the way to Myrtle Beach. The main event along the rest of our journey was that at first I noticed a light on the horizon and assumed Myrtle Beach was near, as there were few other light sources on the back roads. As we crested the rise, we found the brightest light for miles was cast by a giant prison. We did not linger to observe the prison. Attempts to identify the prison afterward proved unsuccessful.

Over the years we have discussed the retirement RV, the early retirement RV and the get-out-of-the-rat-race and sell knick-knacks RV plan. Basically, we love the romantic idea of being rubber tramps. Getting rid of the house and crap and taking our weird little family consisting of us and the four Brothers Fuzzman (cats) on the road. It makes for a great fantasy.

We missed the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Quartzsite, AZ this year. Maybe next year.

L.E. Swenson received his bachelor’s degree in English from S.U.N.Y. Buffalo. He went on to study Theater at the New School for Social Research and received his Masters of Fine Arts in 1999. He has performed in regional theater at Buffalo’s Irish Classical Theater and Shakespeare in Delaware Park. He has written, acted, coached and stage managed in the New York area and continues to write and work in New York.


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