A few months ago, I had written about planning a road trip for the summer, taking all four foster children and my dad with my husband down south to see one of our sons graduate from Army basic training. I had high hopes as the trip to Rochester went so well, minus Mother Nature’s temper tantrum. As you well know plans are meant to be changed, whether we want them to or not.
Plan A was all seven of us to make the trip. Plan B lost two. Plan C lost 4 but possibly gained one. Plan D had two of us going. We stopped trying to make a plan and whoever was ready to go when it was time to leave was going. It ended up being just dad and me. We would have 17 wonderful hours of driving, bonding and planning our time together. Whose bright idea was that?
It actually wasn’t too bad. We talked about the differences of planning a trip now versus 30, 40, even 50 years ago. You see, Dad has traveled this country more times in his 90 years than anyone I know. We figured he has probably been to, lived in, worked in or driven through every contiguous state. The first time he drove across the country was in the late 50s. His brother had gone to California to start his life and dad joined him. For a little while, anyway. Dad lived in many different states, working many different jobs and enjoyed his life along the way. He literally and figuratively traveled his own road.
Travel was much different back in the day. First, the gas prices were rock bottom. Dad seems to recall it was about a quarter a gallon. Yep. 25 cents a gallon. The cars were bigger too. Lincolns and Cadillacs were dad’s vehicles of choice. They were not small cars to begin with but it still cost a quite a few dollars to fill the tank. There weren’t as many cars on the road then as there are now either. Nor did they seem to go as fast as they can today.
As I listened to Siri on my iPhone tell me which exit to take and what road to follow, Dad commented how reading maps along the way was how he managed to get across the county for all those years. Folding and unfolding a two foot square paper while driving, mind you, to figure out where you were and where you need to be was not an easy task. And taking the wrong turn just one time ensured the same path the next time around. Dad had trekked the country so many times, he didn’t need a map.
We eventually made it to our destination – Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, to see my middle son graduate and spend a day or two with him. I also managed to work in a visit to a high school friend, who I haven’t seen in 25 years with a stop at her family’s restaurant, Gooch Bros Grill, for some great food and company. Not a bad way to spend a few days of freedom after all.
Random observations from 17 hours of road time:
No offense to Iowa and Missouri, but I-70 through those states is long and boring.
Great book or column ideas come to me when I am driving and no opportunity to write down any of them. (I must have written this column in my head a hundred times and what you are reading isn’t even close to most of them).
Miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of construction.
The same goes for photo ops I see along the way – a lone red barn and working farm mere yards from a new development of town homes and condos with a bright blue sky dotted with white fluffy blurbs of cotton clouds in the sky. I couldn’t draw something as beautiful. And I can’t draw to save my life.
The social phenomenon of wanting to see the fallout of an accident can and will cause a five mile back up of vehicles on the opposite side of the highway from which the accident originally occurred.
Every village/town/city I pass looks as though it would be a nice place to live. But knowing that I would get bored with whichever one that I choose keeps me going back to CNY. Plus I love the food here.
Did I mention construction?
Long rides give one plenty of time to reflect on the past, present and future. It’s like a mid-life crisis with each mile marker.
Along those lines, many one-sided conversations with others can be had inside one’s mind. The outcomes are always in my favor that way.
Traveling seems like fun for the first few hours. Then it’s too much like work.