Road Tripping

ROAD TRIPPING

Road trippin’ with my two favorite allies
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
It’s time to leave this town
It’s time to steal away
Let’s go get lost
Anywhere in the U.S.A.
Let’s go get lost
Let’s go get lost
Blue you sit so pretty
West of the one
Sparkles light with yellow icing
Just a mirror for the sun
Just a mirror for the sun

 

It’s been awhile since I hit the road with my two current favorite allies, the Q’s—Queen and Quicksilver.  Now that I’ve figured out how to solve the carsickness problem which had me out of the driver’s seat, into the back of the van on my hands and knees with my Lysol, paper towels and those green plastic bags, usually within 20 minutes of starting out, I’m eager to go again. Two years of that and all it took was a little bit of Bonine—who knew?  My last big road trip with the girls was to Oregon eighteen months ago, for the Scottish Deerhound National Specialty.  Time was short, and we did not get to take the scenic route up the coast.

I’ve loved cars and driving for as long as I can remember.  Growing up in the flatlands of coastal Texas, having a car was an essential rather than a luxury.  During my early teenage years the driving age in Texas was 14, and I felt stunned and cheated when the legislature changed the legal driving age to 16, four months before my late December fourteenth birthday, and well after most of my classmates had earned their freedom.  My own liberation came soon enough, in the form of a 1963 white Chevy Impala, owned by my late grandfather, who literally only drove it to the corner grocery store and back. When I inherited that big engined beauty, with its turquoise Naugahide upholstery and plastic steering wheel with the little depressions for my fingers, the year was 1969 and the car had 7,000 miles on it.  I was in heaven.

By the time I graduated from medical school my love of the V8 surrounded by lots of “heavy metal” was fixed and for the last twenty years my vehicle of choice has been a Chevy Suburban, three in succession with the last one, Big Red, now 12 years old and about to roll over 200,000 miles.  I am somewhat pathologically attached to that car—I say that it’s because two years after I bought it in 2001, Chevy had the bad idea to turn it into a “soccer mom” car by pulling out the standard second bench seat and replacing it with two “captain’s chairs”, thus effectively removing 18 inches of rear cargo space, just enough to ensure that I could no longer get two 700 size giant breed airline crates in the back.  In the early years I spent hours on hold with Chevy’s customer service reps, likely somewhere in India, waiting to explain what a bad idea those captains seats were, not to mention the hydraulic lift that replaced the rear “barn” doors.  Imagine having 400 pounds of dog trying to exit the vehicle all at the same time.  But the real reason that I am hanging on to Big Red is the memories of many wonderful, and some not so wonderful road trips with kids and dogs.

The one my kids will likely never let me forget is the trip to Palm Springs when they were eleven, eight and five respectively and in a fit of sheer stubbornness (my husband was working in Rhode Island but there was no way THAT was going to stop me), I hauled the three of them along with three deerhounds to the dog show in January.  By the time we had come down the mountain into the valley, all six of them had thrown up. After the unloading at the hotel and the clean-up, we were back in the car where they commenced a fistfight over what kind of food and where we were going to eat for dinner.  I mistakenly turned down a blind alley and in one of the worst “Mommy moments” ever, briefly accelerated towards the adobe brick wall at the end.  Finally, there was silence in the car.

The ones I will always remember are the road trips taken separately with each child.  With my daughter, the ritual was always the same—peanut M and M’s, Cheetos, and Cokes for snacks, and turkey sandwiches with potato salad and dill pickles for dinner on the road.  With my older son, it was my turn for music education—he always made a CD of “his” music so he wouldn’t have to listen to mine. The content never failed to raise eyebrows the next time I would forget to turn off the player while ferrying a colleague around.  I took the longest trips with my youngest boy.  In 2007, when he was sixteen, we drove through southern Utah on our way to Colorado.  As he looked out the window, he exclaimed, “I never realized how beautiful this country was until we went on this trip.  Now I understand why people want to fight for it.”  Definitely worth every penny of the price of gas.

I’ve been feeling the wanderlust again lately—I dream of no agenda, no AAA prerouted trip, no reservations, no timetables, and no deadlines—just the open road, and of course, a couple of my favorite allies.  Want to come?