It's almost summer, which means it's almost time for a road trip.
I love road trips.
When I was 5 years old, my family drove from LaGrange, Ga., to Portland, Ore., by way of Disneyland, covering more than 3,000 miles.
We lived in rainy Portland for a year. One day toward the end of our time there, my mother heard my little brother and me hollering in another room. She came over and saw us looking out the window and pointing.
"What is it?" we yelled.
"Oh, boys," she said, "that's the sun!"
Then we got in the station wagon and road-tripped back to the sunny South.
About 16 years later, I took another trip out West, this time driving myself 1,700 miles to attend the Officer's Basic Course at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
The night before I left, on a whim, I decided to find a passenger. I called a buddy of mine in Atlanta who was taking a year off from college to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He'd already hitchhiked out to Colorado and back and now was growing restless in the big city.
Did he want to drive out to Arizona with me?
Let me call you back, he said.
A half hour later, he was on board. Turns out he had some sort of opportunity in Mexico. He'd be happy to ride out there with me as long as I'd drop him off at the border in Nogales.
The next morning, we were off. It was a long trip. We listened to a lot of cassette tapes and ate a lot of snacks and talked about a lot of different things.
Then somewhere in the middle of Texas, we started seeing the signs.
"What is it?"
"Mystery of the Desert."
"500 miles to The Thing!"
We passed through El Paso and then into New Mexico. At the Arizona border, we saw more signs heralding the appearance of The Thing.
Then, suddenly, in a town called Dragoon, we were there.
A bright yellow building housed The Thing, as well as a Shell station, a Dairy Queen and of course a jewelry store and souvenir shop.
We paid a buck apiece to see The Thing, and also a collection of torture scenes crafted from driftwood and a car that possibly belonged to Hitler.
As for The Thing, I won't spoil it for you, in case you're driving across the country and decide to see it for yourself. I will say that, as with most spectacles of mystery and horror, the anticipation leading up to the moment of truth was more noteworthy than the actual moment of truth itself.
A couple of years later, my friend got married, and at the rehearsal dinner I gave a toast in which I told the story of our journey to see The Thing. I hadn't really planned what I was going to say, and as I tried to connect the story in some way to my friend's wed
ding, I unwittingly made The Thing a metaphor for marriage, and not a very pleasant one at that.
People thought it was funny. My friend got divorced several years later.
Of course, I now know better than to compare marriage to a road trip to see The Thing.
This summer, my family plans to take a road trip somewhere.
Not sure where, but I'll let you know.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.