Trot Trot to Boston

“Trot trot to Boston

Trot trot to Lynn

Watch out Baby

So you don’t FALL IN!”

Nursery Rhyme

My road trip expectations always exceed their reality.   Last Wednesday evening, after a frantic day of packing which included a trip to the tailor to pick up her favorite dress being repaired for a ripped hemline, my daughter and I set out in her aged Subaru for Boston, MA where she will begin her residency in Internal Medicine in a few weeks.   The last time I did this particular road trip was 1979, when I myself set out in my bright red Camaro—armed with a six foot five male friend and apartment neighbor whose airfare home was paid by my parents in return for his perceived protection.  My daughter had to settle for a Taser.   Last time we barreled through Montgomery AL, Atlanta GA and Washington DC where the unfortunate Camaro had its side bashed in by a group of inebriated sailors returning from a night on the town.  We drove all day and most of the night, my friend Ed’s CB radio alerting us to lurking highway patrol cars ahead.  I didn’t see much of the countryside but I did learn my fare share of trucker lingo, including a meaning for the word “beaver” that in my naivete, I had never even considered.


This time was going to be different.  I polled patients and friends alike regarding the best, most scenic route to take.  One of my patients, a former long distance trucker, voted for a drive through the eastern part of Tennessee and the western half of Virginia, declaring definitively that the truck stops there had both the best restrooms and the best souvenirs.  My dog showing friends, who regularly hit the road with Hyundais full of hounds concurred.  I imagined myself lazily browsing for antiques along the back roads of Knoxville, and scanning the craft shops of Gatlinburg for handmade brooms, the better to sweep up the ever present dog hair collecting behind the furniture at home.  I dispatched my daughter’s cat to the boarding kennel and bought her a cheap ticket to go retrieve him once she had settled in, since several days in a car with the perfume of kitty litter was not my idea of a vacation, no matter how well behaved or adorable the cat.


Despite a first evening arrival in New Orleans at nearly 1 am, and spending the night without either the food or beverages the city is known for, my back road dreams were still intact when we reached Knoxville late on day 2.  It was the morning of the third day, when two locals laughed across the aisle at the Cracker Barrel at my mispronunciation of Sevierville (it’s SEVERE-ville, not SEAVER-ville, for the uninitiated) before they revealed that Gatlinburg, and the entrance to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park were at least a 45 minute drive each way from the highway, when it finally dawned on me that one does not drive nearly 2,000 miles in 3 days and sightsee along the way.   No trips down the off ramps to sample the fare at local diners, no sweeping vistas to photograph at 80 miles an hour, no local yellow dogs rolling over to have their white bellies scratched.   It was Boston or bust, and we coasted into Beantown on Saturday night of the holiday weekend, having taken  nearly 5 hours to drive in pouring rain around the city of New York.


One of these years, I will climb in my old Suburban “Big Red”, 200,000 miles and counting, and really drive across this great country of ours and I will stop along the way, whenever I want for as long as I want.  I will buy Cajun hot sauce, brooms made of fresh straw and local honey along the way. But for now—mission accomplished—in good time, with good company!  Tomorrow, back to work with my back road daydreams.


  1. We can relate. We have driven lots of American miles on our way to dog shows here and there never really getting a chance to savour the ride or experience the ‘cool’ stuff. And, once at a dog show, there is never any time to go and explore any of the amazing historical or cultural locales we have heard about. We keep dreaming though.

    1. Cindy, dream your way down the coast to California after the National next year! Take an extra week and come visit.

  2. Last year, a friend & I packed up her van with 3 dogs & everything we could possibly need for a five & half day trek across our northern tier from NJ to Richland, WA. Our favorite discovery was Theodore Roosevelt National Park in SD, where we spent a wondrous morning. The drive home was even more leisurely, taking a more southerly route to visit Devil’s Tower, MT. Rushmore, the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, and the overwhelming Badlands National Park. It’s truly a gift to be able to take the time to see the country when the journey is half the fun, and that gift is ‘retirement.’

  3. If you take “Big Red” just be sure that your AAA membership is up to date, with the extra long distance towing package. Just sayin’.


  4. It’s my first day back to work after making a run to a nephew’s HS graduation in my home state. I missed the tornado in Moore by 30 minutes and later, sat at a gas station in my mother’s hometown knowing I would not search for my grandparents graves in the local cemetery as I had hoped. The pouring rain I had driven in for the last 4 hours and was continuing to fall made certain of that. The graduation festivities started later that day in yet another town so no time to wait out the rain. I’ll try again in three years when there should be another graduation. Life is short and God is good so I’ll not be sad about what was missed! Praying for the families of Moore, OK.

    1. Thank you for reminding me that my sightseeing isn’t the most important thing going on these days! M

  5. What will be memorable about this trip if not the souvenirs purchased along the way (does anyone remember Stuckeys?) or leisurely stops to sightsee will be the gratitude your daughter will carry forever that her busy, tired, overworked and frenzied mother took the time to personally drive her to the place where her dreams are to begin. She didn’t hire a chaperone or a buddy to avoid the inconvenience. I would call this a very successful Road Trip. Well done.

  6. Re: Stuckeys ~ I think those Pecan Logs were their version of Fruitcake. Am sure some are still around.

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