Me and you and a dog named Boo; travelin’ and livin’ off the land. Okay…but without the dog!

As a kid I so remember many family camping trips across this great land of our — where we’d all six pile in into the Chevy station wagon (1960’s), the GMC truck/camper rig (1970’s), or the Ford Class B motor-home (1980’s).  Most memorable were two-weeks in Glacier National Park in 1968, the three weeks spent in and around Yellowstone National Park in 1970, and the cross-country trek to Terre Haute, Indiana from Marysville, Washington in 1974 to visit a favorite aunt on my father’s side.


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.

In 35 years of marriage my wife Carla and I had never taken a drive further than Seattle, WA to Sheridan, Wyoming – 947 miles, 14 driving hours, one overnight (in Missoula, MT). Which by many standards today is a good drive.  However, this Independence holiday adventure was looking more daunting.
The task.  Drive from Seattle, WA to Larchmont, NY to deliver this car to our son, Omar. He was taking possession of our older Volvo convertible with our recently having bought a newer model.  It’s a car he always admired, so trading it in just would not do. He deserved this car…
silver c70So I was excited for this trip. I was going to repeat the route my father used on our trip to Terre Haute back in the day (see the map above), then extend my efforts further east and thus break Dad’s old distance record! I was also pumped to share parts of our country with my wife, who’d never had a family road trip further than Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, California. With memories intact of my childhood experiences, captured for all to relive on Super 8 moving pictures (Yes, I know…I keep promising to get those transferred to DVD)…we headed out after work on June 27th.
The route.

seattle to larchmont

Thirteen states in 3.5 days.  I quickly learned though that this would be a different trip altogether than any we’d taken before…
The luxury of time.  This we did not have!  Being on a new job my vacation days were limited to June 28th through July 4th. So while my Dad drove the 2,159 miles from Washington to Indiana in five days, getting driving help from Mom and a brother who was old enough — I was logging all 2,871 in just three and a 1/2. I was gonna have to get into my best Road Warrior mentality to make this happen. Points, Dad.
A comfortable ride.  This one I win. Now having made the trip I can’t fathom doing so in a Class B, or truck/camper combination, or towing a travel trailer. Unless it was with this beauty here:   classic truck_trailer

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 Ddunkin donutsunkin’ 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!

penn turnpike

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?

Me and You and a dog named Boo – Lobo, 1973
I remember to this day
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
Me and you and a dog named boo
Travelin’ and livin’ off the land
Me and you and a dog named boo
How I love being a free man
I can still recall
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
And back
Until next time…Keep It Relevant.