Does anyone take road trips anymore?
It seemed like we drove back and forth from Michigan to California at least a dozen times when I was a kid. I loved our family road trips. We didn’t complete our trips at a leisurely pace, it was pedal to the metal. There was no stopping for a hotel. We slept in the car and the adults took turns driving. Just ask my cousin Brian, who was devastated when he learned he would sleep right where he sat.
That year we took the trip from Traverse City Michigan to Joshua Tree California in a Lincoln Continental. My mom, and my aunt took me, my brother, and my cousin on the 4,566 mile (roundtrip) vacation. Oh and the Woody doll from the Toy Story Movie….we can’t forget Woody. I’ll tell you more about him later.
There was laughing, singing, crying, terror, and vomiting….all in the one trip. Who wouldn’t love a trip like that?? Take a flight, and miss all the fun? No thanks!! In all seriousness, our trips are some of my favorite memories. I can understand on one hand, why most people fly to their destinations these days, but on the other they are missing so much!
That trip, we started out on our way, eager and full of excitement. I was about fifteen years old, my brother was around thirteen, and my cousin was twelve. The boys had the woody doll, which they played with the entire way. Woody danced and made obscene gestures to the passing truckers, and even had his little cloth body beaten against the window for hundreds of miles. Only his leg remained in the vehicle as his lifeline for the ride, as they had shut it in the window to allow his body to flap freely in the wind. After the tapping of Woody’s hat on the glass grew old, the adults made the boys bring him in. But it wasn’t long before Woody was nearly ejected from the car. The boys used the doll to do their best Beavis and Butthead impressions, lasting for about two hours. My aunt couldn’t take anymore and completely lost her shit. It is one of my favorite memories of my aunt to date. She is a petite, quiet woman, ohhh but not that day. On that day, she yelled things I had never heard before. I won’t repeat them here because her outburst isn’t appropriate for G rated articles. I wish I could have recorded it. It made no sense, and I wondered how she could just spit something out like that, until I had kids and learned about how they can make you so mad you forget how to put words together. It all makes sense to me now.
Woody was put away for the rest of the trip.
As we continued on everyone calmed down, and settled in to the long ride ahead. We got to see a lot of really cool things on that trip. One of my favorites to this day is the Cadillac Ranch on Old Route 66. There are several Cadillacs buried in the ground at an angle. (See article photo.) It was done as an art project in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels. It is so odd to see in the middle of the desert, and equally unforgettable. The Cadillac Ranch is located in Amarillo Texas, if this story moves you to take a road trip of your own, and you would like to visit it. 😉
On our intense road trips we have to make some stops of course. My favorite was always the souvenir shop at the four corners, where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. There was a lot of jewelry with turquoise, moccasins, leather purses and other handmade gifts. I always saved my money for that particular shop. There were teepees and a white buffalo there as well.
The Cabazon dinosaurs are also a must see while out west. They are located in Cabazon California north of Interstate 10. You can go inside one of the dinosaurs as I remember it, and you will find a gift shop. If it still exists, there was a diner on site that had ginormous hamburgers, as big as your face, and the best peanut butter pie I have ever had. I used to love “going to the dinosaurs!” In a way, the stop is kind of like one of those stops where you can see the world’s largest ball of yarn, or watch water “flow up-hill”. Aren’t those the stops that we remember from our childhood? By flying everywhere you go, you miss the little quirky sites along the way. You also miss the opportunity for close bonding with your cousins, or siblings. Yes, as the parent, you will have to listen to your kids complain that their sibling is touching them, and that their skin feels weird….but the kids memories are a lot more fond when they grow up, than those of a boring four hour plane ride. Short flights don’t teach them anything either!
From taking our trips across the country, I learned how to read a map. I remember how cool I thought I was that I could show my mom exactly where we were on the freeway (I-40) we were on, by finding the mile marker on the map. I also had a chance to learn about other cultures when we went through areas that were home to the Native American’s. We learned how to manage money by deciding how much of our souvenir money to spend at each shop, and by deciding if we wanted an arrowhead, or a scorpion covered in some sort of glass, or maybe a hand beaded leather purse. I will never forget our trips, and look forward to cramming my kids into a car sometime soon for days, and making them listen to Credence Clearwater Revival the entire way there and back just for old time’s sake. I hope they will remember it as fondly as I. Thanks Mom, I hope we can do another road trip together soon too!