Road Trips, Travel Narrative

Going All the Way: A Love Letter to a Rental Car


When you love someone, you want to get to know every part of that person.  You want to know the good parts and the bad parts; the deep, dark, dirty parts; the quirky parts, the beautiful parts, and the horrific parts.

That’s how I feel about the world.

When I visit a new place without a car, I feel like I’m on a first date.  Confined to what is likely the tourist center of that city, everything is all bright and shiny and convenient.  Using public transportation only gets you so far.  Nothing gets too deep, nothing gets too real.  But rent a car and you are in that new place.  You are bathing in all of its awful, beautiful glory.

I rented a car last week in New Orleans and drove out the overly-romantically-named Great River Road (spoiler alert–it’s not very great and you can’t see the river).  I conquered my fear of bridges four different times–twice over the Mississippi and twice over Lake Pontchartrain–and I (briefly) maneuvered the narrow streets of the French Quarter.

Visiting Miami for work a couple of months ago, I rented a car even though I didn’t technically need one and spent a few hours here and there just driving around, windows rolled down, watching, listening, and (yes, even) smelling the city as traffic crawled along.  It was sensory overload in the best way possible–and would not have been possible without my rented electric-blue Nissan Cube.

One of the worst drives I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing was a solo road trip from San Francisco to Yosemite.  The roads leading out of the city are choked with traffic, feature poor signage, and no one goes under 70 mph–ever.  Oh–and then there’s the horror that is the Bay Bridge, a bridge-meets-tunnel monstrosity that encapsulates all of my worst driving fears.

I loved every minute of each of these drives.  Getting out of the city–any city–and into the world that surrounds it gives me a deeper appreciation and understanding of that part of the world.

And in case I wasn’t clear before–I’m in love with the world.  And so too, I suppose, I am in love with rental cars.  Enterprise, Hertz, Budget–hell, even EZ Rental–you are my newest infatuation.  I can’t wait to see you again.



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