I’m not a fan of flying. It’s an easy way to get from point A to point B in the fastest amount of time, but I don’t like it. Outside of trusting my life into the hands of a stranger for a few hours, I can’t be happy traveling unless I’ve got a set of keys in my pocket.
Traveling isn’t always about your destination. It’s about the journey you take to get to there. Going on a trip is a different kettle of fish when you get behind the wheel and drive every mile. I can get on a plane today and be in Los Angeles by dinnertime, have dinner, and be home again by dawn. Where is the fun in that? Skipping all the land in between cities is like eating the cherry off a sundae and leaving the ice cream behind.
I’ve been on a lot of road trips in my life, but my favorite one has to be a cross-country trip my husband and I took in 2004. We were considering having children and decided to take a “Last Hurrah” long road trip.
We rented a car for this venture and I still remember it fondly. We dubbed it ‘Jersey’ because it had New Jersey plates. Not a very creative name, but I didn’t want to get too attached to a rental. We packed up Jersey and set out from our home outside of Boston early on the first day.
This trip was back before everyone had smartphones and GPS navigation, so the old map book came into play. Battered from years of riding under the passenger seat, this book of United States maps was dog-eared and stained from spilled drinks. The states we lived in showed the most damage and others, such as Alaska and Hawaii, were still clean.
Poor Jersey was covered with dead bugs by the time we reached Kansas. It was there that my husband got to see his first tornado as we sped ahead of a massive storm. In Colorado she climbed Pike’s Peak like a champ and I wished I could’ve slapped on a bumper sticker saying she made it to the top. Pete didn’t think that the rental company would have been proud…or pleased.
Highlights of that trip are recorded on grainy photos taken with a disposable camera. We have pictures of Jersey, of a house I lived at as a child in Colorado, steel buffalo cut-outs on I-80 and live antelope in Wyoming.
The odd things can make for the best memories. There was a giant stuffed Jackalope wearing a saddle that Pete was keen on trying to ride. We saw the world’s largest groundhog and still have a brochure someone handed us in the Midwest for a chicken show.
Over the course of the trip we would randomly leave the highway to take the back roads. Every town has its own identity, a taste or feel that is as unique as the people living there. Small shops with hand made goods, war memorials with the names of the fallen residents, the quirky person who painted their house purple with pink shutters. I think of all these things when I get on a plane and regret the missed opportunities to see something new. Who knows what is around the next bend in the road?
How about you? Is there a road trip that sticks out in your memory?