My 3 Cents Road Trip
After the last year+ of adventures relegated to books (electronic and hardcover) and streaming travelogues, it felt great to gas up the car and head south to visit family and friends. We weren’t sure how or when other states would loosen restrictions and still maintain safety. Washington State had guidelines in place early on and out of respect for others and concern for our own health, we packed an ample supple of masks and hand sanitizers as we ventured forth.
In the past, we would have spent months planning flights, researching exotic places, and saving money, but this year was different – sort of. We spent weeks (not months) perusing our old Rand McNally atlas, determining how many miles between meal stops, and choosing a safe hotel for our overnight stay. A cooler was packed with healthy snacks, drinks, and assorted sandwich fixings to avoid unnecessary stops.
Podcasts, several books on tape, and assorted playlists kept us entertained toodling over the countryside.
As we sped down the highway (speed limits ranging from 65 to 80) and we were awed by the beauty of the countryside and the billowing clouds, I remembered a road trip from my youth.
My sister Jennifer got a summer job in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The year? 1960. My dad took more than two weeks off (a rarity) and we all piled into his DeSoto sedan. No seat belts or head rests. No cup holders or portable DVD players. Heck, no air-conditioning. Just Dad, Mom, my teen sister Mary, six-year-old little brother, and me. I almost forgot! My parents invited my cousin Shirley along to help with the driving. Seven snug, happy travelers on a seven-hundred-mile journey on the winding roads from Pennsylvania through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and on to Maine!
A few memories stand out:
- We frequently stopped at roadside cemeteries. The old Revolutionary epitaphs were a fascination for my mother.
- We stayed at a motel with a swimming pool – a first!
- We sang songs (still remembered), counted cows and white horses, and, yes, read Burma Shave signage.
- The movie “Psycho” was playing at the only movie theatre in the little Maine town. (Too young at twelve to see it then. Enjoy showers too much to see it now.)
- Went to a real clam bake! (How about that, Oscar Hammerstein?) Sailed to an island where a feast of seafood awaited us.
- Ate lobsters. Even carefully played with them (long before “Annie Hall”) prior to dinner.
- Dove into Boothbay Harbor and swam as fast as humanly possible to shore. Coldest water – ever.
- Explored the rocky shoreline of Maine near a functional lighthouse.
- Dad went deep-sea fishing and caught four huge fish – almost as huge as his smile.
There are a few old photos hidden in tucked away albums, but mostly the memories are, well precisely that, memories.
Unlike our recent trip, where phones were always handy to snap a pic or shoot a video as well as a 35mm SLR for possible enlargements if we ever get around to it. Our family was healthy and fun, and we even shared some of own memories, although primarily of the past few years, not decades.
Road trips, if we’re lucky, make memories. If we’re really lucky, the memories stay with us a lifetime.