It’s Friday the 13th before a three-day weekend, and I’ve got itchy feet. I need to get out and go somewhere. My husband says no, my to-do list says no, but I think by the end of the day I’ll be heading out for a road trip.
Hittin’ the road’s in my blood. I know I’m not alone. You just have to look at weekend ferry lines to see what people are willing to go through to get away, to be someplace new. Or if not new, just somewhere different.
I know where my need for road trips comes from. When we were kids, my dad couldn’t stand staying home on a sunny weekend. We went north, south, east, and west, usually to some spot we’d never seen before, but sometimes old favorites.
Dad’s first exposure to the Pacific Northwest was Whidbey Island in the 1960s, and that became a favorite family day trip. We especially loved stopping at Fort Casey, running through the old artillery post with all its dark spaces and dangerous drop-offs. My mom usually called after us to be careful, then waited out front. She didn’t want to have to watch if any of us fell off something and landed on cement. It was an adventure.
We also drove north to Mount Baker at least once a year. It was a long drive, but we usually hit snow even in the summer. Dad would park, pull out the plastic floor mats, and we’d go sledding in our shorts.
Mom always packed picnics for our day trips, sometimes in small backpacks if we were going to do a hike. We’d stop somewhere Dad thought looked pretty, hike for a while, then stop and have lunch. In between bites, Dad would say, “Boy, it’s just beautiful here. Look at that!”
Sometimes he took us on the Cascade Loop Highway, our green station wagon winding along roads with sheer drops only feet away. Grandma usually came with us, and neither she nor Mom would keep their eyes open, but we loved it. Dad was driving, and we knew he’d keep us safe.
Those day trips as a kid were frequent and wonderful, but they were only our warm-ups. You see, Dad grew up on the east coast, so we had a lot of family back there. Once every four years, Dad would take a month or more off of work (today he shakes his head in disbelief that he was “so irresponsible”) and we’d drive across the country. Now those were road trips.
Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Washington D.C., New York City. We saw lightning storms, lightning bugs, Amish buggies, and had a lifetime of adventures. And wherever Dad saw a place to stop and swim, we did. He never missed an opportunity.
In 1974, my two uncles and their families were living in Alaska. Naturally, we took a month and drove the then-unfinished Alaskan Highway. My parents, us three kids, my grandmother, and my cousin crowded into the station wagon and pulled our small trailer along hundreds of miles of dusty road. We camped through those endless summer nights, and visited Mount McKinley (now Mount Denali) during the wee hours of the morning to see the northern lights.
At some point, my Great-Uncle Guy joined us. On an outdoor stove, he made us scrambled eggs that were black with giant Alaskan mosquitoes. That was an adventure.
Today, our family continues to road trip, though not for so long or so far. And sometimes, just when the schedule and responsibilities start constricting, I get the itch to go. Pack up the car, bring some food, and get back on the road again.
Life is good.
— Follow Denise Roundy on TheTreesAndI.blogspot.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.