Friday, August 19, 2011

Road Trips: Friday Five

From RevGalBlogPals
My husband and I just returned (on Wednesday night) from a long road trip up the middle USA to Canada, going through various national parks, and on to the Puget Sound of Washington State. This brought back memories of family road trips with my children and when I was a child, so the idea of today's Friday Five arose.

Tell us about five road trips--in your childhood, in your family, in your recent past, with friends, and/or hoped-for-places-to-drive-to. Don't forget the one that stands out as the BEST or as the worsttime. 

Road trips=Vacation!  Here are some memorable road trips from my past.

1.  1961 traveling from southern CT to northern VT.   This is the first road trip I can remember.  I was heading to first grade in the fall, and my father decided to rent a cabin on Lake Champlain in North Hero, VT for a week.  There were 3 of us kids, ages 2, 5, and 7, and I was the oldest.  I don't remember the car we traveled in.  It was probably the blue 1956 Buick.  What I do remember are the stops we made along the way, and my travel diary which I still have!  With 3 youngsters aboard, we made frequent bathroom stops.  At the time, the only places available were gas stations, and I remember the bathrooms as being greasy and oil-spattered. I also remember my youngest sister as not wanting to use the bathrooms, but "holding it."  In desperation, my parents stopped by a stream and undressed her and made her sit on a rock on the edge of babbling brook until she gave in!  I also remember picnicking along the way, and I have an entry in my journal describing the "strage bugs on a stump that turned out to be very larg grashoopers."  I'm impressed by my spelling and handwriting at that stage in my life, the summer between kindergarten and first grade.  The cabin we stayed at was creepy from my point of view, and smelled musty.  My sisters and I shared a double bed with a saggy mattress, and the lake water was "frezing and the botom of the lake is very rockie."  We rented a boat and caught some fish, with pictures to prove it.

2.  Another major road trip:  1968 from central New Jersey to Washington, DC.  By now there were 5 of us children, and we traveled in a yellow Pontiac stationwagon with 3 seats.  The 3rd seat faced backwards, and yours truly had to ride in that seat.  It was really hot, and the car didn't have air-conditioning.  While I was suitably impressed by Washington, DC, especially the underground train between the Capitol building and the Senate Office Building where we met a senator also traveling on the train, what stands out on that trip are the meal stops.  On that trip we ate $.12 hamburgers with strawberry milkshakes at McDonalds, or shared a 20 piece bucket of KFC.  My father, bless his heart, always did the ordering for us and we never had a choice in the selections.  If you didn't want a strawberry milkshake, you went without.  (He hated chocolate, so we NEVER got what we wanted!)

3.  1969 was another memorable trip, this time from N.J. to Miami, FL to visit my father's sister and our cousins.  We again traveled in the yellow Pontiac, but this time there was a major addition to the car which made the trip an agony for my "going-to-high-school" self.  Because the car was full of people (7 total) there wasn't much room for luggage in the car.  Rather than spending money on rooftop carrier, my father built a wooden box that covered 90% of the roof.  He painted this box yellow to match the car, and decided to dress it up with a pair of eyes, nose and big smile on the back end of the box. He also painted slogans along the side, referring to anti-Castro events.  (He'd emigrated from Cuba in 1948, but his sister had just recently moved to Miami from Havana.)  As the oldest, and one of the siblings who didn't get carsick, I had to sit in that 3rd backseat facing drivers.  At every traffic stop, I had to endure the amused reactions of the drivers behind us as they saw the painted box.  As a 14 yr old I was beyond embarrassment.  The other memorable event was that we toured Cape Kennedy on that trip, and were actually at the space center when the moon landing astronauts splashed down.  We watched the splash down on large screens overlooking a control center of some sort!

4.  We moved to NJ from CT when I was 9, and we made many trips back to our home town to visit my mom's sister and our cousins.  The trips only took 2 hours, unless there was traffic, but they were always an adventure.   We made up songs to accompany our trip too.  When we crossed the George Washington Bridge we sang "George Washington Bridge, George Washington Washington Bridge" set to an old tune that I don't know the name of.  When we did a road trip 40 years later with some friends, we crossed the bridge and I unconsciously started singing it!  Our friends thought it was a real song!  We also used to sing "We're in CT, we're in CT, we're in CT, right now" to the tune of "Found a Peanut" as we crossed over the state line.    A memorable trip occurred when my father had to fly to Mexico on business in the late 60's at Thanksgiving.  We dropped him off at Newark Airport on the way to my aunt's.  We took the Holland Tunnel into NY, and the water pump on the car died.  My mom managed to limp out of the tunnel and parked the car just outside.  She went off in a cab to find a gas station, leaving all 5 of us in the locked car, with me in charge!  Today she'd be arrested for endangering kids, but it was a different time when I was growing up.  She found help, and we got to my aunt's house about 1/2 day later than planned.

5.  In 1980, my husband and I drove from southern Indiana to southwestern NH after spending Christmas with my parents and family.  Our first son had been born in July, and I had flown out to my parents with him the week before Christmas.  My husband drove out the day before Christmas, and then the 3 of us drove back to NH.  That  was the trip from hell.  Our son was not an easy baby, and he was difficult to console.  He screamed nearly the entire 989 mile trip.  I moved to the back seat of the car to try to comfort him, to no avail.  I finally managed to semi-quiet him by taking him out of his car seat and holding him.  Not exactly safe, but neither was it safe to try to concentrate on driving with a non-stop screaming baby.  Oh, did I forget to mention that the car we had at the time was an old Renault LeCar, affectionately known as "The Clown Car?"  There was barely room in the front to sit comfortably, much less in the back seat!!

I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane!  I have a dream of doing a major road trip --- across the US to Los Angeles, someday.  But I want to take 4-6 weeks to do it, stopping along the way as my fancy takes me.


Sharon said...

I love all of these stories! You reminded me that our family also had a station wagon (ours was Ford) with that back-facing seat. And how precious is that early journal!

Auntie Knickers said...

What great stories -- I can just imagine the yellow Pontiac with the box on top! We had one of those station wagons with the rear-facing seat too, as there were also 5 in my family.

Jan said...

I've been thinking of your vivid stories all day, ever since I first read them this morning. Thanks for these great images, even with the cars represented. I feel for you and that baby screaming on the ride back. And how neat that you kept a journal at such an early age!

Gord said...

One of the oft-told stories in my family is of a cross-country trip when I was a baby. My dad had made a bed that filled the backseat of the car (years before carseats of course) in the hopes that the baby would sleep. No luck (to this day I find it very difficult to sleep while travelling). They had to take a whole day off of travelling so I would catch up on sleep.

Purple said...

Having 4-6 weeks to "explore at leisure" sounds wonderful.