Why is driving so exhausting?

I guess that’s a rhetorical question: the answers are sort of obvious. But there’s a reason most people don’t spontaneously say, “Hey, let’s go for a three hour drive today, won’t that be fun?” Or a four-hour drive, or a seven-hour drive. And driving slowly — with breaks of a day or two between chunks of long driving days — doesn’t make the experience any better. Crazy ten-hour days of driving require recovery days but so, apparently, do five-hour driving days. At least for me.

But I broke my drive from South Carolina to Pennsylvania by stopping for two nights at Salthouse Branch Recreation Area in Henry, Virginia. It was about five hours from Santee — albeit closer to seven with stops for gas, dog walks, and lunch, so I got there on Friday with plenty of time to relax. Along with all the rest of the people in the state who wanted a nice relaxing Memorial weekend Friday. I believe I complained that at Santee I could see my neighbor’s trailer instead of a nice view? At Salthouse Branch, I could see eleven trailers from the van door. At that, it was still nicer than a typical independent parking-lot style campground: my site was small and not level but at least there were grass and trees and beautiful water within walking distance.

path into woods

Also some nice looking trails, but I did not take advantage of them. It was a bad combination of circumstances. First, I was tired — long driving days do that to me. Second, it was hot enough that I didn’t want to wear long pants and socks and hiking boots. And third, although also relevant to the second point, there were ticks. So many ticks that I was literally flicking them off the water hose and steps. Given the number of tick-borne diseases that I’m scared of, bare legs in the woods felt like a no-brainer level of stupid thing to do. So we admired the above path, but we didn’t go very far on it.

Also, there were dogs. Not on the trails, but in the campground. Lots and lots of dogs. Oh, my gosh, the dogs. I like dogs (obviously.) But at least some of these dogs’ owners had given up on keeping their dogs quiet and there were so many dogs in the campground that there was a continual dog chorus going on. Two brown labs behind me needed to say hello to every passing visitor and the little black dog across from them felt compelled to respond. The park was completely full, so there were a great many passing visitors.

Zelda never barked once. I would be a smug dog owner about that — my good dog! — but she’s losing her hearing (sadly, another symptom of canine dementia), so I think she probably just didn’t hear them. She’s also gone back to being ridiculously picky about her food. Yesterday, she declined steak for breakfast in favor of a couple bites of my niece’s breakfast cereal. I will seriously feed this dog anything that she wants, but she changes her mind about what that is on an hourly basis. But her energy level is great and she’s been enjoying playing with toys again, so I’m not worrying too much.

And I’m now in Pennsylvania, where I will be staying for the next three weeks. Less driving, more family time, yay! And hopefully some writing (finally!!) of an emotionally satisfying romantic ending. I’m as close as I’ve ever been with finishing a first draft and I have no impulse to go back and start re-writing, so that’s good news. Now if I could just get on with it!