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Tag Archive: travel

Jun 18

“You are never too old for a summer road trip” – from my archived columns first published in The Examiner, a Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper

summerroadtrip“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

A clue that I love road trips is the packed bag sitting on my closet floor, just in case the opportunity to travel cross-country or anywhere else presents itself.

I blame this trait on my parents.

You see, they loved to travel and believed that seeing unfamiliar locales via the open road was a vital part of childhood education. So do I.

Thus, that was a good enough reason for me to “suggest” quite recently that our two young adult single sons accompany us, mom and dad, on a road trip west. They have done this before and know the drill.

Yet, I worried that they are not kids anymore and might not be thrilled at the idea. My husband tried guilt to coerce them saying, “Boys, this could be the last time the four of us take a road trip together.”

I was thinking, “You have to be kidding; I plan on making them take us when we’re 88.”

Admittedly, they might have a reasonable fear of boredom and embarrassment at the idea of traveling with their parents. Yet, they embraced the road trip good-naturedly, probably because they come by wanderlust naturally.

In my youth, back in the 50s and early 60s, it was not unusual for the boys’ grandfather to come home from work on a Friday evening and announce happily, “We are going to Colorado in the morning. Do you have a bag packed?”

I learned to have mine ready.

Sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. the following morning, our family would leave our Missouri River bottom farm home for Colorado or California or other parts west (sans automobile air conditioning and thus the night travel).

For some reason, we never went east, and I have yet to figure out why. Summer after summer, we headed west toward the mountains with all our shoes piled in one open cardboard box in the back of our green woody Desoto station wagon.

Another box held a loaf of white bread and cans of Spam, apples, cookies and a jug of water for a noon picnic at a roadside park. We thought it a feast.

Those roadside parks, by the way, were usually located next to an historical marker, and I am quite certain we stopped at every one of them between Kansas City and the Pacific Ocean. That is, if my mom, a history teacher in her day job, had anything to say about it. My dad was the photographer for the trips, lining us up in front of countless such markers, and when we stopped at gas stations, he treated each of us to a bottle of soda pop (as long as we did not fight too much in the backseat).

Mostly, we read road signs and jingles, sang songs, quibbled some and laughed a lot.

A family squeezed together in a hot car on long road trips with only each other for company sears unforgettable memories into one’s psyche.

I guess I was hoping to create the same memories with our sons before they spread their wings and fly too far away.

We didn’t leave at 3 a.m., although my husband wanted to, and we did not eat Spam and white bread (it wouldn’t have surprised me if he wanted to do that, too). I never made the boys stand in front of one historical marker, although I almost did in a fleeting, nostalgic weak moment.

I guess I look at this road trip as a practice run for when we are 88 and the offspring get an urgent phone call from us asking, “Boys, do you have your bag packed? We are leaving for Colorado in the morning, and oh, by the way, will you drive us?”

Aug 13

You are never too old for a summer road trip

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

A clue that I love road trips is the packed bag sitting on my closet floor, just in case the opportunity to travel cross-country or anywhere else presents itself.

I blame this trait on my parents.

You see, they loved to travel and believed that seeing unfamiliar locales via the open road was a vital part of childhood education. So do I.

Thus, that was a good enough reason for me to “suggest” quite recently that our two young adult single sons accompany us, mom and dad, on a road trip west. They have done this before and know the drill.

Yet, I worried that they are not kids anymore and might not be thrilled at the idea. My husband tried guilt to coerce them saying, “Boys, this could be the last time the four of us take a road trip together.”

I was thinking, “You have to be kidding; I plan on making them take us when we’re 88.”

Admittedly, they might have a reasonable fear of boredom and embarrassment at the idea of traveling with their parents. Yet, they embraced the road trip good-naturedly, probably because they come by wanderlust naturally.

In my youth, back in the 50s and early 60s, it was not unusual for the boys’ grandfather to come home from work on a Friday evening and announce happily, “We are going to Colorado in the morning. Do you have a bag packed?”

I learned to have mine ready.

Sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. the following morning, our family would leave our Missouri River bottom farm home for Colorado or California or other parts west (sans automobile air conditioning and thus the night travel).

For some reason, we never went east, and I have yet to figure out why. Summer after summer, we headed west toward the mountains with all our shoes piled in one open cardboard box in the back of our green woody Desoto station wagon.

Another box held a loaf of white bread and cans of Spam, apples, cookies and a jug of water for a noon picnic at a roadside park. We thought it a feast.

Those roadside parks, by the way, were usually located next to an historical marker, and I am quite certain we stopped at every one of them between Kansas City and the Pacific Ocean. That is, if my mom, a history teacher in her day job, had anything to say about it. My dad was the photographer for the trips, lining us up in front of countless such markers, and when we stopped at gas stations, he treated each of us to a bottle of soda pop (as long as we did not fight too much in the backseat).

Mostly, we read road signs and jingles, sang songs, quibbled some and laughed a lot.

A family squeezed together in a hot car on long road trips with only each other for company sears unforgettable memories into one’s psyche.

I guess I was hoping to create the same memories with our sons before they spread their wings and fly too far away.

We didn’t leave at 3 a.m., although my husband wanted to, and we did not eat Spam and white bread (it wouldn’t have surprised me if he wanted to do that, too). I never made the boys stand in front of one historical marker, although I almost did in a fleeting, nostalgic weak moment.

I guess I look at this road trip as a practice run for when we are 88 and the offspring get an urgent phone call from us asking, “Boys, do you have your bag packed? We are leaving for Colorado in the morning, and oh, by the way, will you drive us?”

Oct 13

Watching the parade of life

“If you’re not in the parade, you watch the parade. That’s life.”  Mike Ditka

People watching is one of my all-time favorite pursuits. It is just like watching a parade.

On a recent long and rather uninteresting road trip, my husband and I stopped at a diner where I got to watch a virtual smorgasbord of travelers. At last, I thought, something to do after miles and miles of nothing to see but tumbleweeds and an occasional hawk on a fence post.  I could watch people.

At first, what I observed caused me a bit of chagrin. Two families were simply too perfect. Picture perfect, in fact. They were traveling together and were dressed almost exactly alike.

The moms, in stylish jeans and trendy spike heels, carried no extra weight on their tall, slim frames. These perfect moms had perfectly gorgeous tri-color weaved hair and French manicures. They carried handbags that were “to die for”.

People watching was not working out as well as I planned because these two gals totally depressed me.

The dads were athletic, rugged, solid kind of guys.  They wore jeans and boots and each had a chic stubble of a beard that looked a lot like “Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest’s.

The perfectly appearing parents had perfect little cherubs that were dressed in clean, perfectly pressed outfits. The angelic children had clean hair and nails. There were no apparent spills on their clothing or on the table; in fact, there were no messes whatsoever. The children did not whine and were not unruly or loud.  The older ones helped the younger ones with their food and drink.

Theirs was a perfect world. I was getting more depressed. I wondered how these people could be so flawless.

Was I on another planet? Had we stopped at some strange world along the highway, a Twilight Zone perhaps?

When I was nearly convinced that I had found an obscure sect of humanity, a miracle occurred. My faith in children was instantly restored.

A perfectly groomed little boy, about 3 years old, sat safely strapped into a booster chair.  Then, oh so quietly so that mom and dad did not see, the little guy kicked off his shoes and slipped out of his seat restraints. He crept behind his dad’s chair and stood quietly behind his mom’s. There he stealthily removed her pricey designer handbag from the back of her chair and darted barefoot for the outside door.

Dad began chase. Utter chaos broke out as the other kids darted for the door, too. A chance to escape, perhaps? Drinks spilled. Food fell to the floor. The moms lost control, or maybe never had it at all.

I love watching parades.

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