Friday Five: Road Trips

Jan writes:

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 worst time.

1. The Ziploc Bag

My folks weren’t exactly rolling in money when I was a kid and so every couple of years when they could scrape together enough money, we would drive to Oklahoma for Christmas. 1976 was one such year. I was 4 years old and we loaded up our station wagon and headed down the road. In those days, we could do the 1,000 mile trip in about 18 hours, and dad drove it straight through. This year, there was a giant snow/ice storm in New Mexico so we spent some time hanging out by the side of I-40 in the middle of the night. Now, it’s about 10 hours from Phoenix to Albuquerque and we were past that and thus far in the trip I hadn’t peed. I was four years old and have, and still kind of have, a bit of a steel bladder. Not a big pee-er. My mother kept insisting that I had to go and I kept insisting that I didn’t. Even if I did, her only solution was me squatting outside in the snow & ice by the side of the interstate. That wasn’t happening. The compromise that we reached was that I would pee into a storage-sized Ziploc bag in the back of the station wagon. Not the best advertising for them, but apparently I filled it and mom was able to rest knowing that I wouldn’t get a bladder infection that day.

2. Colorado 1984

My parents bought a motor home when I was in Jr. High. They almost bought a cabin in Flagstaff, and I begged them not to because then if we ever got a vacation we would only go to FLAGSTAFF. So, they were persuaded and we bought a motor home, w/ a vcr, microwave and hot water. This is as rough as my people get. My aunt, uncle & cousins were going to the annual music festival in Aspen that year and we went up there and met them. The specific memories I have of us camping in a camp ground w/ no plug-ins and washing my hair in a faucet that was fed by snow run-off. I can say with confidence that there is no ice cream headache that even comes close to washing your hair in near-freezing water. Yes, I know, you outdoorsy types do this all the time – good for you. Just remember – IT’S OPTIONAL. I also remember us creeping up the Continental Divide in this monstrosity at 2 miles per hour. It was beautiful though.

3. Every Family Vacation

My dad owns a small business so there was never such a thing as a real vacation. We would do So. Cal on weekends and Northern AZ, then if we could do anything longer, it was Oklahoma to see family. I have to say a motor home is the way to do Disneyland, because we could park in the lot, go into the park in the morning, go back & eat/nap in the motor home & then go back to D-land in the evening. Also, the motor home parks in So Cal are on cliffs overlooking the ocean & it’s kinda pretty. We would tow a vehicle behind us so we could drive around the area without the monstrosity.

4. Down the Coast

The first time I ever came to San Francisco was in my Sophomore year of high school. I came here with my school choir for a short tour & competition. We flew into San Francisco and spent the day seeing the touristy parts of the city. I had such an overwhelming sense that I would live here one day, and voila! My parents were sponsors of that trip & drove up in the motor home and met us at the competition and that was great fun. The trip bumped up against spring break, so we took the week, rented a red mustang convertible and drove the 17-mile drive,  had my first visit to Monterey & Cannery Row. I drove that same path on a very long road trip on my college choir tour. 12 days from Phoenix to Portland & back. Yikes but fun memories.

5. Across the country.

I’ve traversed the country a couple of times in a car. My mom & I did it first when she took me to college in Pennsylvania. We went the southern route because it was winter and the middle of the country was a chunk of ice, so we went first to Houston via I-10. We drove that straight through – I don’t recommend. I was so freaking punchy when we pulled in to my aunt’s driveway at 4 in the morning. I slept for most of the next day. Also had a run-in w/ an ex-boyfriend. We crossed the Mississippi, spent a couple of days in Atlanta, my first time, saw the DC area and then to Fhilly. When I returned to Phoenix, my friend Lilyan flew out to PA and drive back with me. That time, we drive to Minneapolis to visit a high school friend, then we dropped down I-35 to go to Enid to pick up my grandmother’s dishes for my mom. This was 3 weeks prior to my grandmother’s death and she had wasted away to a form that I did not recognize. I spoke with my parents about this and they told me it was my decision to see her or not. I had decided not, my my asshole uncle made me go. She didn’t know that anyone was there, let alone who we were. It’s fine, though, because she passed and I still have great memories of her better days.

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