Several members of the Modern Mopars of Snohomish County club motor up Chuckanut Drive during a group cruise in March. It was the club’s last organized gathering before the governor’s order for people to stay home. (Modern Mopars of Snohomish County)

Several members of the Modern Mopars of Snohomish County club motor up Chuckanut Drive during a group cruise in March. It was the club’s last organized gathering before the governor’s order for people to stay home. (Modern Mopars of Snohomish County)

Stave off stay-at-home boredom and go for a drive

With the roads so empty and few entertainment options outside the house, it’s time for a joyride.

The last time I was this excited to start my car, I was 16, a newly licensed driver of a rust red Subaru GL wagon made the year after I was born.

Its engine sounded like a hundred rocks rattling in a coffee tin. That was if it started. Sometimes, it didn’t.

For me, driving often is relegated to commuting, a necessary part of my career and life. Steering a vehicle can sometimes be a delight, too, like during a short road trip to the Gorge or Hood Canal.

Lately, it’s become one of my more thrilling activities. It helps that it’s one of the few activities I can partake in, besides moving from one couch to another, going on a solo bike ride or walking around my neighborhood.

Public health concerns over the new coronavirus indefinitely barred me from my beloved third places (I MISS YOU, Buzz Inn, Soundview and White Buffalo) and kept me from visiting family and friends in person. The weather took the weirdest turns this past week (what the hail?), so I wasn’t up for a long bike ride. Once I started queuing “The Office” for an 18th watch on Netflix, it was time to do something else.

I fired up my commuter car Nissan Sentra, a hand-me-down from my dad, and hit the now-open roads.

There was no destination, just the drive.

Others with far more impressive vehicular bonafides know that joy well.

Modern Mopars of Snohomish County, a club for enthusiasts of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles, hit the road for a long and winding tour of Chuckanut Drive in late March. That last joyride was before Gov. Jay Inslee told people they should mostly hang out at home.

“Before the stay-at-home order everybody was getting stir crazy,” said Steve Myers, who co-founded the club in 2013 with his wife, Keri.

As usual, they brought their sons, ages 4 and 2. Recently, the Myers traded in their 2012 Dodge Challenger for a Durango SUV. They’ll need the extra room once their third child is born.

The club mostly organizes on Facebook and doesn’t have membership dues. Of the 500 members, 150 are regularly active, Myers said. About 30 meet up every other week, often at the Kohl’s parking lot in Marysville. When it’s nice out, more assemble for more distant destinations, such as to Diablo Lake.

Modern Mopars of Snohomish County members went on a drive to Diablo Lake last year. The club often assembles for cruises, but public health worries and the state’s order to stay home have scuttled planned gatherings. (Modern Mopars of Snohomish County)

Modern Mopars of Snohomish County members went on a drive to Diablo Lake last year. The club often assembles for cruises, but public health worries and the state’s order to stay home have scuttled planned gatherings. (Modern Mopars of Snohomish County)

The club takes part in several charitable events. Members host the Dreambuilders Car Show at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, which has raised more than $300,000 over the past six years for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Snohomish County. They also put on the trunk-or-treat Halloween car show and trick-or-treat night at the Kohl’s in Marysville. Modern Mopars of Snohomish County chauffeurs students for the Young Life Capernaum prom — a highlight of the year for club members, Myers said.

For now, and until the state changes its orders, the club’s engines are cold.

“We’re fully in support of that order and don’t want to be seen as a group that is at all putting anybody’s lives in jeopardy,” Myers said.

The Seattle Rod-Tiques classic car club, the group behind Everett’s Cruzin’ to Colby for the past few years, also is on hiatus. It has a couple dozen members, who don’t even need to own a car to join.

“Now you can’t even really get together,” club president Wayne Soderquist said. “I guess you’ve gotta stay apart.”

For anyone who hasn’t hit the freeways and highways around Snohomish County, they are eerily empty. I love it.

“It was noticeably, at least the drive up on the freeway, a lot less people,” Myers said of his club’s cruise to Chuckanut Drive in March.

Soderquist also noted the spacious byways.

“We usually try to stay off the freeway as much as we can,” Soderquist said. “I guess now the freeway is pretty well open. It’s more fun being on country roads.”

When the drive from Everett to Marysville is under 20 minutes, I see why people yearn for the open roads of yesteryear.

Driving has a toll beyond the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance and vehicle registration tabs. When I’m igniting the combustion engine, I’m spewing carbon into the air, which contributes to climate change and poor air quality.

I gave myself permission to delay that guilt and whatever carbon offsetting option I choose for another day, because I just wanted to go somewhere, anywhere, other than the couch again.

Have a question? Email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Ron Detrick teaches his geometry class Wednesday morning at Lakewood Middle School in Marysville on May 12, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
For real, these Lakewood pupils are back in class full time

Elementary and middle school students are getting in-person instruction five days a week.

Darren Redick is the new CEO of Providence’s Northwest Washington service area. (Providence Health and Services) 20210514
Providence stays local in selecting a new regional CEO

Based in Everett, Darren Redick will lead the health care provider’s Northwest Washington area.

Georgie Gutenberg
Death of Lake Stevens woman not suspicious

Police had asked for the public’s help to search for Georgie Gutenberg. She was found dead Sunday.

Everett man shot while walking his dog identified

Ryan S. McFadden, 33, died of gunshot wounds.

Man killed by train near Snohomish is identified

The Marysville man, 45, was hit Thursday morning south of the Snohomish River.

Students lead charge as Langley council takes climate action

The Whidbey Island city has declared a climate emergency and has pledged to involve United Student Leaders.

Douglas Ryner, 8, brushes twin cows Thelma and Louise at the Evergreen State Fair on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019 in Monroe, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
11 days of glee: Evergreen State Fair ‘Back in the Saddle’

The fair was called off in 2020 due to COVID-19. Organizers are planning a revised event this year.

Firefighters douse the flames at the NOAA Fisheries Building Friday evening in Mukilteo on May 14, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fire damages NOAA site near new ferry terminal in Mukilteo

Smoke flooded the waterfront Friday night as fire crews descended on the abandoned research center.

Claire Swander, 6 months old, gets an H1N1 vaccine from nurse Soon Ku at Providence Physician Group in Mill Creek on Oct. 31, 2009. The site had lines with a three-hour wait for portions of the morning. (Heidi Hoffman / Herald file)
Vaccine approval for kids a reminder of 2009 H1N1 outbreak

As swine flu scare closed some schools, parents flocked to public clinics to protect their children.

Most Read