Is silence the best road trip companion?

Photography Credit: Leslie Cross

I try to make at least one long road trip every year to see what life is like somewhere other than where we live. Here at Aerovault in Henderson, Nevada, we build lightweight, low-drag, single-car trailers that are transported to customers all over the country. 

[Has Aerovault made the ultimate enclosed trailer?]

Normally we use professional haulers, but I feel it’s important to get out on the road occasionally to deliver our product personally. It gives me a chance to check out our latest tweaks, evaluate build quality, and meet new owners to see exactly how they intend to use our equipment. 

Better yet on arrival is learning about and sharing the customer’s enthusiasm for whatever they’re currently building, racing or restoring. Car people are some of the most passionately involved and interesting individuals on earth. 

More importantly, my time on the road gives me an essential on-the-ground refresher of what an incredibly beautiful country we’re privileged to live in. I recently headed north out of Vegas across the deserts of Nevada and canyons of Arizona, then took I-70 through the mountains of Utah to central Colorado–an amazing visual experience I’ve done several times in my life but never tire of. 

The privilege of trying to absorb the enormity and grandeur of the views on that drive through Glen Canyon in Colorado or the Virgin River Gorge in Utah never ceases to impress. Those roads are just a couple of the engineering masterpieces we have in America. 

This particular trip across the different deserts of Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado and then over and through the Rocky Mountains never ceases to amaze because it allows one to contemplate the magnitude and scale of what it took to even envision the concept of carving out our transcontinental highway system that didn’t exist before World WarII. Probably the best thing President Eisenhower did after WWII was create the team that designed and had these roads built. There hasn’t been anything on this scale created in America since.  

The most important value of traveling alone is that solitude gives one time to think. There’s so much that never gets considered when in the company of others. 

What struck me most on this trip was the value of silence. I’d decided before leaving that I’d not turn on the radio, as I wanted no interruptions or distracting reminders of what currently passes for news or even the supposedly sage commentaries of those pundits who claim to know what is really happening in our world. 

I knew it would all be there on my return, in its annoying, repetitive form, so it was no big loss. We’ve become so used to the constant din of worthless noise and interruptive breaks that we’re inured to it and tune it out for relief. It’s almost impossible to escape the assault of aural trash that constantly surrounds and attempts to invade our every moment of consciousness. 

Try this: Take a moment and analyze your day; think of all the places where you spend time in the company of others. Work, businesses, restaurants, shopping, any method of travel, even doctor’s offices and any public gathering spot–all have some sort of electronic noise that passes for background or even, laughably, music. 

Even when you finally end your day or arrive at wherever, just turn on a radio or television and try to listen to anything without encountering constant interruptions. Count the number of inane sequential commercials that destroy any pleasure or attempt at maintaining some sense of mental continuity. Impossible. 

The only recourse is to turn it off or, better yet, get rid of it entirely. There’s so much genuine value in complete silence. A good road trip does much to restore one’s sanity.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/3/23 10:10 a.m.

I recently made the same discovery myself, but just while driving around town running errands.

The road noise, wind noise and engine noise all kind of combine into a soothing white noise.

gbarker New Reader
8/3/23 11:48 a.m.

I couldn't agree more.  I had a retro radio installed in my '69 E-Type convertible, but I've never used it except for the USB ports to keep phone (always off) charged.  So, I'm not even sure the radio works??  

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
8/3/23 12:33 p.m.

Whenever I go on a road trip, I often start with the radio off. Before you know it, I'm a couple of hours into the drive. It's great for clearing the mind. It's like meditation.

Nred New Reader
8/3/23 2:53 p.m.

So much to learn from Mr. Brock.

What he wrote here can certainly be learned from: "The only recourse is to turn it off or, better yet, get rid of it entirely."



Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/3/23 4:27 p.m.

All this talk has me itching for a road trip. Personally? I'd love to drive across the country again.

Seeing the lush Gulf Coast slowly transform into the deserts of the Southwest was something I'll never forget.

peterpan3201 New Reader
10/22/23 12:07 p.m.

Driving to Texas soon , I will leave a day early ,family will fly in I'll carry luggage in the car and pick them up at the Texas airport when they fly in. We don't need to rent a car and I get some alone time. Then after our vacation I will take them to the airport and drive home. At least one drive will be just me and my thoughts. Thanks for the tip.

bosswrench New Reader
10/22/23 2:09 p.m.

I own a mid-engined DeTomaso Pantera. So at normal under-100 speeds, the radio is pretty much unintellegible anyway. Things do quiet down as speed increases.... but I get kinda single-focussed at that point.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/23/23 5:11 p.m.

I don’t think I have ever run the radio in the 911.

Dwight New Reader
10/24/23 7:49 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Not that what is happening in our world                   these days, is unimportant, but having an avocation, such as it is in Motorsports is VERY good... Even if it's just repairing the '74 MGB I just bought... 

mcloud New Reader
11/8/23 1:31 p.m.

If I hear another radio ad for 'Relief Factor', I will scream!  Am suprisingly content to motor along in silence, allowing my mind to think it's thoughts without distraction.  Yes, it is a form of meditation.  Thanks, Mr. Brock.

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