I remember these trips vividly because Mom captured each on Super 8 movie film whose reels we watched time, after time, after time again. An image of me breaking into a jig on a rope suspension bridge at Glacier is lastingly burned into my brain. I DO however, need to get these reels converted to digital DVD (my bad!) so we can continue laughing at my severe Summer crew cuts Mom gave my brother and I.
I was spared the noise, fussing, and frequent bathroom breaks that four impatient kids create and need in these environments; and I was delivering a Volvo convertible with heated seats, 6-disc CD changer and the all-important ability to drop-the-top and experience the wind in your hair at 70+ mph.
Logging all the miles solo. Not her fault really, my wife has not been able to drive much after having two strokes a year ago. And while she gave it a go in Montana, the roads were not flat enough nor straight enough for her comfort level. So I took to the left seat and motored on. I love her just as much, if not more, for having tried and she was an exceptional navigator; she did not sleep even a wink (okay…maybe for 30 minutes once) the entire way while keeping me hopped up on sugar and caffeine.
Road construction. I can’t remember ever driving through as much construction, with severe lane and speed restrictions, as I did on this trip! I’m sure my Dad faced some back on those family outings…but our interstate highway system has aged 45 years since then. Thanks to AAA of Washington, we had our TripTik Travel Planner booklet that not only mapped our routes and overnight options, but gave us a heads-up to all the ongoing construction. I imagine I got more lanes to use most of the way than my dad did. And it’s nice to see the states using those federal matching funds to replace some really horrific infrastructure. Give it five years and you’ll want to make that drive yourself!
Too few Dunkin’ Donuts west of the Mississippi River. ‘Nuff said. (You think I’m joking?) Have you had Dunkin’ Donuts coffee? Dad didn’t have Dunkin’ in his day so this ones a draw.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike. O…M…G! This was the best $25 in tolls spent the entire trip. It’s a great roadway with it’s limited access and stunning scenery. And rest stops like you don’t see on the west coast. Actual services like food courts, hair salons, massage chairs, and of course — Starbucks! If you get the chance, take this route. Sorry, Dad…points me!
Larchmont, NY. What can I say? Larchmont is a lovely and fascinating village outside of Manhattan. The people there have been so gracious and welcoming of our extended family that we can’t help but feel like we’re a part of it, even 3,000 miles away. So we spend three great days with family, friends, a one-year-old grandson who is really special; golf with my boy, cigars and Tequila. The perfect decompression following the drive and knowing I would not have to repeat the effort east-to-west.
We flew home. This is my “gotcha Pops” moment. After a week in Terre Haute way back when, Dad had to drive home. Same number of days he spent driving out there. But the wife and I hopped a JetBlue Airbus A380, landing in Seattle five short hours after takeoff…on the same day…July 4th.
Would we do it again? We talked about this on our flight home and agreed we’d do it again in a heartbeat. But before we slog another trip like this one where we were under pressure to arrive in New York – we think a relaxed road-trip to Oklahoma to see more family would be nice and manageable. Take one route there, another back. But would we do this next trip with a dog along for the ride?
The bright red Georgia clay
And how it stuck to the tires
After the summer rain
Will power made that old car go
A woman’s mind told me that so
Oh how I wish
We were back on the road again
Travelin’ and livin’ off the land
Me and you and a dog named boo
How I love being a free man
The wheat fields of St. Paul
And the morning we got caught
Robbing from an old hen
Old McDonald he made us work
But then he paid us for what it was worth
Another tank of gas