Tag Archives: road trip

Road Trip Radio

My brother and I are geniuses, obviously, which explains why we didn’t realize that our rental car had XM radio until, oh, two days into our trip. Clearly, we were distracted from this discovery by our other rigorous intellectual pursuits. Or, maybe, we’re just that clueless.

Either way, the discovery delighted us. One of my favorite memories with my brother is tooling around Providence in a Zipcar, back when they had XM radio, and surfing through the various stations. We stumbled across some sort of public information channel, which was full of unintentionally hilarious items that left us cracking up. This time around, we quickly found our favorite stations — 1st Wave (new wave), Boneyard (metal), Lithium (grunge/90s), Classic Rewind, Classic Vinyl,  Underground Garage, 90s on 9 and 80s on 8. Occasionally, we found something on the Loft, Spectrum, Alt Nation or Coffeehouse, but believe it or not, Sirius XM U was a bit too hip for even us to bear.

All was well for the first couple of days. But by midweek, we noticed something that surprised us. I think we had expected satellite radio to be some haven of repeat-free playlists, where DJs took advantage of practically infinite archives within their genres to craft programs that were unique and diverse. But by the 8th time of hearing New Order’s “True Faith” on 1st wave and our 50th Stone Temple Pilots song on Lithium, we sensed something was amiss.

Apparently, while satellite radio has the benefit of allowing you to hone in on stations that focus on your favorite genres  — thus rescuing you from an adult contemporary wasteland that can cruelly juxtapose a pretty good Guster song with something wretch-worthy by Kenny Loggins — within those stations, the same unfortunate rotations seem to apply. This doesn’t make sense to me for a station like 1st Wave, which could easily find other New Order songs to play or bust out something by Depeche Mode other than “Enjoy the Silence.” By the end of our trip, we’d be turning the dial away from songs we had previously been excited to hear not three days previously, because we’d already heard them ten times.

Still, I really enjoyed having XM Radio on our roadtrip. It helped diffuse any potential iPod wars by presenting a highly desirable alternative, and we had a lot of fun mishearing song lyrics, hearing new songs, singing along to old favorites and generally talking about what is a passion for both of us. For my brother and I, music is a huge common thread, so we particularly enjoyed having something over which we could share our enjoyment — and our mockery.

Of note: I was in a store Saturday and they started playing New Order’s “True Faith.” I didn’t know whether to feel nostalgic or like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”


An Adventure Like No Other

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been preoccupied with booking flights, cars and hotels. Me and Google Maps are BFF. I’ve weighed the merits of Tennessee vs. South Carolina, and I’ve flagged the sections of my family geneaology that note the locations of family burial plots.

Wait, what?

Next Saturday, my brother and I embark on a journey so ridiculous, I was almost certain when I conceived of it three-plus months ago that it would never come to fruition. It was too kooky. Too unreal. Too difficult. Too improbable. But if I know anything about my life by now, it should be that the improbable is the norm.

We’re doing a hit job on South Florida, hopefully dropping in and out within a 24-hour span to show him where I grew up and finish getting the last items out of my grandmother’s house. Then we’re driving up to Virginia to visit my mom’s cousin Bobby and see our ancestral homeland in West Virginia. I’ve heard so much about how beautiful the country is up there, and given how much I’ve gotten in touch with the British side of my family over the past few years, I am looking forward to learning about and experiencing more of my mom’s side. And come on, when you are a direct descendant of this guy, you know you’re in for an interesting trip. On the way from FL to VA, we’re going to take two days to tour the South, stopping in at some weird sites along the way. So, I won’t be around much next week. I’ll probably be updating Twitter and Facebook from the road, though, so check in on the hijinks there.

Isn’t this insane?

Isn’t this awesome?

Even though we’re bound to see a lot of crazy, amazing things on this trip, I already know what the best part is going to be — it’ll be the same thing that was the best part of our trip to London in 2007. I’m getting to spend an entire week with my brother. What could possibly top that?