Road Trip – Why do people make them?

Mom and my brother and I looking out over Lone Peak

All of my growing up years we made every vacation into a road trip.

For one thing, Dad had quite a bit of vacation time, we kids were out of school, Mom didn’t work outside the home.

For another, the trip planner (usually Dad) had an insatiable curiosity about history, and wanted to see where it was made.

So we popped popcorn (to help the driver stay awake) and packed suitcases and got into the van — which had been made over to include enough beds for everyone but the driver to sleep (back before seatbelts were much in use) — and Dad would put on his music and away we would go.

We stopped a lot. You would think that was related to four kids and two adults having differing bathroom schedules, and that was probably one aspect. It was more likely, though, that Dad spotted a roadside historical marker, and we pulled over to see what it said. We would troop out onto the roadside and someone who could read would tell what the marker said. We’d look over whatever else was there — sometimes the foundation of an old building or the ruts from a long ago trail — before we got back on the road.

Dad claimed he only needed about four hours, maybe six, of sleep, so he would drive past when the rest of us were awake.

I remember one especially long hitch. There was a campsite that Mom had located in one of the brochures. We were somewhere in the hills of — I don’t remember, Ohio maybe, or Tennesee or Kentucky? It got dark before we got the the area. Dad followed the map and one little sign and wound up and around and deep into these hills.

Picnic on a vacation to Kentucky

It was a little creepy. Not another vehicle in site. We didn’t have GPS in those days so we weren’t sure exactly where we were. And we never did find the expected hookups and bathrooms that usually signified our camp sites. It was really dark and we were really alone in the middle of nowhere.

The next morning we found a river, waterfalls, cliffs — a gorgeous backroad scenic spot. We never did find the campsite (so we didn’t have to pay the fees!) but my Mom, always the optimist  pointed out the treasure of a spot we’d found and we enjoyed it for a couple of hours before we wound back down (which took much less time) and got back on the road.

Crater Lake with a little terrier overlooking the site

Mom was constantly challenged to keep kids occupied and safe while we trekked across the country. She came up with games, we read books, and sometimes she fixed our sandwiches or snacks from the little portable fridge and the supplied she’d brought along. People didn’t eat in restaurants much in those days, either.

The Heroine in Starting Over Book Three: Finding Her Voice decides to take a roadtrip – just her and her daughter’s little dog, a terrier mix named Ollie and named after my own dog.

CONTEST: Looking for funny road trip stories to include in my upcoming book, Finding Her Voice. The winner will have their story included AND will get a free copy of their choice of the other two books in the Starting Over Series.