When I was 4 we lived in Kansas City, MO but my mother was from Cameron, so often on holidays we would drive up to my grandmother’s. I was young and don’t remember a whole lot, but I do remember the tiger lily flowers in her front overcrowded garden, snapping beans on the back porch and walking with my cousins to the city pool when the black top was so hot it formed little bubbles that popped and oozed when I stepped on them. That was back before seatbelt were required and I remember lying in the back seat of the car and watching the street light shadows move in rhythm as we made our way back in on the dark freeways.
When I was 10, my step father, having just returned from a long “job hunt trip” to New York told the family we were moving to Hawaii. I didn’t know what a Hawaii was but everyone else seemed to be excited about it so I thought we must be going to a really cool place. He’d previously been a newspaper editor and radio personality and this new job at a printing company was enough to warrant yet another adventure. He left right away, leaving my mother brother and I to follow. I’m sure my brother was excited to have another place to surf and my mother says she had always wanted to see Hawaii.
We took a round about way of getting there though. Rather than fly out of Miami, my mother wanted to see her Missouri relatives before leaving. There was only one problem, flights were too expensive for the three of us and we didn’t own a car. So my mom bought a car for the trip… for $100. I don’t remember what kind of car it was, a four door something. It had been parked in a field for the better part of 2 years and smelled kinda musty. But I was 10, what did I care? So we put everything we owned into this car and left Miami Beach for good. My mom bought a styrofoam cooler and filled it with sandwiches; bologna and mayonnaise I think, and off we went. My brother and I took turns riding in the back seat and everything was going well. I say that now, but I’m sure my brother was taunting me as he usually did and we probably played slug bug which means he got to hit me regularly. We drove our mom nuts.
Our first stop was at a rest stop for lunch. I don’t know where we were but it looked kind of rugged and mountainous. Are there mountains between Miami Beach and Kansas City? Anyway, we stopped at a rest stop, opened up the cooler and found that it was completely full of ants. Yep, thousands, of tiny little ants were all up in our lunch. I was pretty disappointed because back then, I really liked bologna sandwiches.
Our next challenge came soon enough. Somewhere in Alabama or Mississippi it began to rain. Have you ever been in the south when it rains? Sometimes it just rains and sometimes it really rains. Like downpour. Like you’re under a huge waterfall – for hours. It rained so hard I remember being frightened. We could barely see the road ahead of us. It was crazy. And then… the wipers quit working. We pulled under a freeway overpass and had to wait for the rain to pass. Sometimes in the south when it rains, it rains for days. But we got lucky and it passed fairly quickly. Whew, now, back on the road, right? Unfortunately the car wouldn’t start. We had it towed to a local shop. Or rather, a scary, dirty place with a guy willing to take a look at it.
He got us back on the road and we finished our trip, visited with family then boarded a big jet headed to Honolulu. I still can’t believe my mother found someone in Cameron to buy that old car for $500 and she broke even on the trip!
Not all of my road trips were that dramatic. I’ve also crossed the country in moving trucks. Years later when we returned from Hawaii to the states and moved to Olympia, Washington, all of our belongings that we put into storage before Miami Beach, before the West Indies while we were living in Arkansas, were still sitting in storage. 5 years without any of our household “stuff” for lack of a better word. We flew to Missouri for a friends wedding, then made our way to Arkansas, rented a U-Haul, loaded it with the “stuff” and drove it back to Washington. I was just 14 so I couldn’t help with the driving and my brother had left for the Air Force two years prior, so my mom handled the rig. It was exciting, and I couldn’t wait to unpack all those boxes and finally have all my favorite things again. Looking back, I think the anticipation was the best part, because what I didn’t realize then was that I had already outgrown the brand new bike. The Barbies and their camper that were perfect for the 9 year old me, didn’t hold the same fascination for the 14 year old me.
It’s been years since I’ve been in a moving truck, the last time was when I moved my daughter into her college apartment. That was a smallest one I ever drove. The big ones we used when my husband and I, and Megan just three years old, moved from Denver to Tennessee. Then back again less than year later. Then the following year we did it again, this time to Phoenix. And again, back in less than a year. That’s when I was pregnant with Rachel, our under-contract town home sale in Denver fell through because it caught fire and we had to live with my in-laws. Luckily the town home was vacant, but it was just days from being sold.
My last road trip out of Denver was a beautiful drive through Colorado, Utah and Nevada. My reason for the trip? To help a friend with her booth at a lingerie show in Las Vegas! I really shouldn’t go into details about it here. Let’s just say that name “lingerie show” was an understatement.
I associate road trips with new beginnings. Exciting adventures. And freedom. I’m thinking it’s time for another road trip soon.
Today I’m just on the road to recovery, but I’m confident it will take me to where I need to be.
Who’s up for a road trip with me in June? Where would you go?
Writing releases the thoughts you didn't know you had.