Road Trip

mjmercerJanuary 22, 2011

I just returned from one.

It was a 9-hour drive from southwest Missouri to downtown Chicago. By myself. Unless you count my two cats, who were NOT pleased and did nothing to make the trip less stressful. lol

The St.-Louis-to-Chicago portion was especially difficult. It has to be the bleakest, most boring drive anywhere. Nothing but flat cornfields and that proverbial ribbon of highway in every blinking direction as far as the eye can see. The biggest enemy is boredom. I had CDs and some junk food and some caffeine to keep me going on this trip. I finally made it home safely but it was still a major grind.

So, what's the longest distance you've ever driven in one day? How did you keep yourself alert/entertained?

Karen, who is soliciting some good road stories to help pass the time in this frigid, frigid weather.

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Karen, I love your story. As a woman who thinks a drive to the grocery store is a drag and the 25-mile round-trip drive to work is an even bigger drag, you make anything I do look like a walk. Hope others have better stories than I do, lol!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 7:01PM
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These days our longest road trip lasts about four hours. We drive from our house to Half Moon Bay, have some seafood, walk the pier and watch the crab boats come in. That tuckers us out, but we enjoy our trip.

In a bit younger life, we'd drive from the house to HMB, then down Route 1 to Santa Cruz, then down to Monteray, eat some lunch and come back on HWY 101, a nightmare traffic situation. The round trip takes about 8 hours. We enjoyed that trip because of the beautiful scenery and great sea food.
The longest car trip was when we moved from back east to CA. We had a medium sized station wagon. Hubby and I, our three small children and my mother took an eleven day trip. Each day was about 8-9 hours long. Went through corn field after corn filed,stopped at "Dude Ranches", met a bunch of nice people, stopped at tourist places and plenty of "rest stops". DH had stopped smoking a couple of years before the trip, but on the third day in he took it up again.

When we reached CA we wanted to go over the Golden Gate Bridge, but we made a wrong turn and went over the Bay Bridge instead. Lol, it added a couple of hours to our trip, but we ended up going over the Golden Gate Bridge, singing " California here we come". We've been very happy here in CA, but at our age, I would not make that trip again.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 7:24PM
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My longest solo trips were done when I was in school about 3 hours each way on the weekends. A really boring drive which sometimes I think I made in my sleep. There were more then a few times when I would be surprised to find that I was much closer to my destination then I realized and not remember much of the drive. As kids we were in the back seat all day drives from Ontario half way to Florida. Then the rest of the way the next day. And more recently an eight hour dive to Quebec in a cube van. Montreal during construction season not fun. But through all that my worst driving experiences have all been within an hour of home. (rather a long trip then a short one through bad weather) I think there was a survay or study that said most accidents happen within a few miles of your home. Good driving everyone!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 8:03PM
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I don't go far solo,never have but we used to drive from Ames Iowa to Columbus Ohio all the time,which is about 740 miles according to DH. Back then they didn't have all the kiddie tvs,videos etc. so we played games with our son most of the way,or just looked at the nothingness along the highway..corn fields as far as the eye could see. One time I read a good portion of Catch 22 out loud to my husband,when our son wasn't with us. We laughed the whole trip. DH was in grad school and we had very little money or would have flown instead.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 8:52PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Karen, I have no interesting road trip stories, but I do have sympathy!! I've made the OK to Colorado trip numerous times in 20 plus years. I didn't mind it a bit when I was younger, but it gets harder and harder now. This last time was harder I think because I had a passenger who refuses to listen to audio books, which is how I distract myself.

I won't even attempt the OK to Michigan trip by car...I fly....but I gripe about that too! Ugh, those little planes are so cramped.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:48PM
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sweet_betsy No AL Z7

Just before New Year's Day DH and I made the trip to Norfolk, VA, to pick up our youngest. That's his home base when he is not aboard his Navy ship. He had just arrived in port from a six-month stint off Somalia pirate-hunting. He usually flies but his truck with mechanical problems needed to come home too. The trip to VA took 14 hours with very few stops. DH is a former trucker and he believes that getting there is job one. We rested up for the night, picked up the sailor and the truck and did it all again the next day. I have decided that I only like lazy trips around the back roads closer to home where I can soak up the local color. Interstate highways are not for me.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:45PM
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I mostly lurk here but decided to post on this thread. Years ago I flew to England and drove with a friend from Oxford to a little place in France called Millie la Foret--about an 18 hour drive when you factor in the ferry across the English Channel (no Chunnel in those days). My friend's daughter wrote out painfully detailed instructions but since my French is NIL and my friend's not much better, we ended up running amok on the Peripherique (ring road) around Paris in the wee hours when both of us were, unfortunately, about done in with fatigue. Quite by accident, she took an exit off the infamous ring road and panicked. Her eyes had that 'deer in the headlights' look when she turned & asked me what she should do. I looked straight into her bleary eyes and said [firmly], "Blow a U-ey. NOW!!!"

To my amazement, she knew what I meant, made the u-turn and we were back on our way to Millie la Foret in less time than it takes to tell.

The best part was finally getting there and spending a couple of weeks relaxing in the French countryside with bread, wine & cheese, not in a B&B or hotel--in a campground, in army surplus tents. None of us could afford anything else... but I got to see Paris!!!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 3:31AM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

I hate roadtrips. If I could avoid all cities, it would be better. I am the world worst car traveller, I should be drugged and stuffed in the trunk. I get motion sick so can't do anything to pass the boredom, and of couse dh wants to be the only driver. which means all I can do is stew and b*itch. I have a dread fear of getting lost in cities, and do not trust those gps things because I can't tell where I am in relation to anything else. Our son is in Albuequerque and it is a 2 day drive from Ohio. We always fly. Because of me.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 8:56AM
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As long as I am off the interstate and driving along the old routes, I am enjoying it. I particularly love the endless cornfields. LOL. I can drive forever, if I can stop about every four hours and get out and explore and eat junk.....

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 11:10AM
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My longest "solo" road trip wasn't all that long, just a little over four hours, but b/c I had never done it, before, I was nervous.

Since DH hails from S. Dak., we used to make road trips from D.C. every year or two. The first time we drove, we had a small American Rambler. We had a piece of plywood cut to cover the entire back seat, so our three kids--9, 6, and 3 at the time--would have a little more room to spread out. Luggage was strapped to the top of the car. It was an adventure for all of us, b/c in 1960, most of the interstate highways stopped just west of Chicago, at least in the direction we were going and it took 2 1/2 days for that first journey.

DH and I have always shared the driving on trips till the last couple of years; now I do most of it. Of course, we aren't taking any road trips longer than four hours, either. Guess my first trip of four hours driving alone imprinted itself on my brain. :>)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 3:00PM
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mwheel, it's a small world. Back in the 60ties we had three small children and a very small 1961 Renault. We made regular trips from DC to PA to visit the grandparents. Hubby also built a plywood platform for the back seat, and I padded the the whole thing.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 7:03PM
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We drove from Monterey, California to Nashville, Tennessee when we moved here, averaging 700 miles a day for five days. My grandfather and uncle on my mother's side came and packed the UHaul. The first night they rested and we ate out at Fisherman's Wharf. Milton asked Suse, "Aren't you going to eat that?" and of course, she the never-eater, said nope, and he ate it all. It went that way for every meal for the next week. She'd pick at her food, he'd ask if she was done, she'd say yes, and then he'd suck it off the plate. He was like a Hoover! The second day, we left Monterey, my friends, and the only home I'd ever really known behind, stopping in Bakersfield for the night. Cried a lot, but I got over it. Don't remember a thing about the drive, as it was a typical drive down Highway 1 and something we'd done a blue million times. Lots and lots of fields and orchards, and that far south, you begin seeing the oil rigs that always creep me out, the little ones like this that seem to operate on their own or a ghost is moving their bobbing head up and down. Creep me out. We went headed across country via Route 66 the next morning. I remember the Painted Desert. Flat, dry country in Texas and Oklahoma and crossing the Mississippi. My favorite part was going swimming in the outdoor hotel pool, at, gasp, night! That was the coolest. We were in either Arizona or New Mexico (in Albuquerque, Grandaddy left his credit card behind and we had to go back and get it), and the stars were brilliant. I loved that. It was the first time I saw my grandfather swim. He loved to float idly in the water. Best time of my life. 2500 miles in one week was arduous, but indelible. Sure am glad it only took days and I wasn't in a covered wagon!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 9:36AM
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Longest trip driving alone was 5 hours from CT to Oswego NY. Pick up DH, who drove back - so 10 hours in one day, and my back was really hurting by the 9th hour.
We regularly drive 7.5/8 hours to visit MIL in Western NY, but so far that's my longest here.
Although back when I was 20, a group of us rented a minivan and drove from London to Munich, only stopping for bathrooms and food. The rental insurance only covered the drivers over 25, so I was a passenger. I think it took us two days, including the ferry crossing to Holland.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 10:58AM
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West, you were a "better woman" than I! I folded blankets and quilts for padding; you can imagine they didn't stay straight very long with three kids wiggling around on them!

P.S. Not only am I not a "real" gardener, I'm not a seamstress, either. :>)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 3:19PM
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jazmynsmom(Z5 Madison-ish)

I've done a lot of long road trips over the years (MN --> NY; MN --> AZ; plus we do the 10.5 hr drive between WI & ND four times in two months every year) but I'm usually with someone. I suppose the longest drive I've done alone was when I did the 14.5 hour drive from Atlanta(-ish) to Madison(-ish) when we moved here 8 years ago. I was so dang stressed out that I probably needed the down time to sort out my mind. I re-did that same drive this time last winter in a giant Penske truck full of furniture Steve inherited, but I stretched it out over five days and visited and/or stayed with eight friends along the way. I don't think I ever drove longer than 3.5 hours in any one stretch, and I had a ball.

Do you have an iPod? Before the days of iPods, I used to check out books on tape or on CD from the library. Nowadays, I just mosey on over to for a good book and make sure all the podcasts I enjoy on a regular basis are up to date. If your iPod doesn't plug in to your car stereo, you can get a pretty inexpensive converter to make it play off your car radio. You'd be amazed at how fast a drive can go when you're engrossed in a good book!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 3:22PM
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Good grief, Michelle, has it been eight years since you relocated to Wisconsin? I still remember when you were in the process of moving. Lordy, how time flies.

No, I don't have an iPod although my car is iPod friendly.

Hopefully this will be my last encounter with a road trip for many months to come. All journeys in the near future will be accompanied by phrases such as "shoes off, please" and "make sure your tray tables are locked in the upright position." :o)


    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 5:46PM
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mwheel, my point was that we had "like minds with the plywood platform". No sewing involved, I stapled some foam and fabric to the plywood. It served the same purpose.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 7:02PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

I have driven from the middle of Iowa to the east coast, probably 30 times and from the middle of Iowa to LA twice and to San Francisco once and once to Portland.
I regularly drive from the middle to Iowa to Chicago...4 to 5 hours, depending on construction and my "pedal to the metal" mood.
I can't tell you the number times I have driven the mind numbing trip from the middle of Iowa to Denver...Boulder...and points south. The first 3 times it's interesting, after that it's mostly drudgery.
I have driven from New jersey to Miami, from Iowa to Miami, in fact I have driven through every state but Hawaii, Alaska and Maine.
If you don't drive, you really don't see this great big beautiful country.
People ask me why I don't fky to my family in the Chicago suburbs....but it takes me, usually 4 1/4 hours to drive. If I would fly, I would have a 45 minute drive to the airport, best allow an hour and a quarter to allow for parking and I will have to be in place at least before my 50 minute by the time I land at O'Hare I have a little more than 3 hours into it. Then I collect my bags, another at least 30 minutes and get to the curb where the limo takes me the 30 minutes to my son's house.
I have saved about 20 minutes by flying, spent easily $200 more if my flight was cheap, endured the airport hassle, allowed myself one bag, so no plants for their garden no Grandma cookies no Iowa Blue cheese.....and I would have to find some place for my dog....AND i don't have my car while I am there.
Nope, I'll endure that ribbon of road....many times over!!
I really like to drive!
Linda c

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 7:24PM
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Wonderful thread & posts! From someone who's never had the $ to travel far, I loved reading of your travels.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 8:12PM
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A lot of solo trips and a lot of trips with family or friends.
My dad would get 3 or 4 weeks of vacation every summer in the '50s and '60s when we still lived in Iowa. Road trip was our whole program every year. We visited relatives and most of the national parks west of the Mississippi and a few east of it. That was mostly on the old roads with the Burma Shave signs.

Then the move to California was in February '64 on the southern route 66 in a station wagon and U haul. We still did road trips as the new interstates developed mostly to visit relatives up the coast in California, Colorado, Missouri and back in Iowa. I got the wanderlust handed down as a part of life.

My time in the service was mostly in Monterey Ca. This is where my solo trips started. Once a month I would drive down to the LA area on either 1 or 101. Highway 1 was slower but more fun. Esalen was open at midnight till 6:00 AM for $5.00 and the mineral baths were very nice. Sitting there soaking a couple hundred feet above the breakers with wisps of clouds passing in front of the moon would be a restful night.

There were a couple of trips to Portland from Monterey that were 13 hours one way. Seems longer going north, going south feels like going down hill. I think it may have something to do with the curvature of the earth and gravity or possibly magnetism.

The big one happened in '74 with two friends. I had a brand new Dodge Dart that the back seat and the separator to the trunk folded down. One drove, one prodded and one slept in four hour shifts from the LA area to Boston in 3 1/2 days where we stayed for two weeks theb did the same drive back. Good Times.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 2:10AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

I love driving. When I was young I used make extra money driving cars to various airports up and down the east coast. (The owners didn't want to drive but did want their car at their destination.) I always drove solo; the longest one-day trip and most memorable was from BWI (Baltimore) to a small town in Georgia, near the Florida line. Seems an elderly gentleman (in Baltimore) had died and left his car to his great-granddaughter for her HS graduation present. His lawyer's wife had used my services when she flew to/from Myrtle Beach, and she recommended that I drive the car to the young heir. That was also the longest trip I took driving an almost new Cadillac.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 12:59PM
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Meldy, that puts me in mind of one of my memorable road trips, I guess I was trying to suppress it because it was one of the most frightening and tedious trips I'd ever had.

The company for whom I had formerly worked and at which my husband was working as a law enforcment officer after his regular beat had hired a manager from out of state. He had preceded his family to get settled in and he passed away only weeks after the transfer. In fact, my husband was the one who found his body when he failed to report to work.

This gentleman had a car and some personal belongings to be returned to his family in Michigan and it was decided we two would do it. I drove our personal vehicle and my husband drove the deceased man's car. The glitch was........this occured during the blizzard of '78. It was the most horrific winter storm our state had ever had and essentially everything shut down because of it, and the cold and snow hung on for weeks and weeks.

I mostly remember only seeing two cars on the road. Mine, and my husband's in front of me. Semi-trucks were scattered along the route, having slid into ditches. It was madness to have undertaken the trip then and looking back on it, I don't know how I agreed to do it.

I remember clutching the wheel so tightly there was no feeling in my fingers and never stopping, but to gas up. We made it into Detroit that night.......I was in pain from muscle spasms and ended up at an ER on the way back the next day for treatment.

A historical link about the "Blizzard of '78"

Here is a link that might be useful: Blizzard of '78

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 1:54PM
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Never made a long trip by myself. Just as well, since I would have to stop at every interesting place and never get to where I am supposed to go.

Calliope, do I ever remember the Blizzard of 78. Roads around here all closed and I traveled on 31W all by my lonely self on skis.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 2:13PM
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Don, you wrote heading South seemed like "going downhill". The four directions have always had adjectives in front of them in our house: "back East, out West, up North, and down South". Maybe it has something to do with where one is born, but putting one of those adjectives in front of a different direction would seem very strange!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 5:49PM
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anneliese, "I traveled on 31W all by my lonely self on skis." What a road trip you must have had. Lol, I've done a few snowy road trips in my time, including ski trips. I remember the time when the snow was up to our front door and we could not open the door. I had to go to school, so the family placed my skies outside the kitchen window, lowered me down to the skies, strapped me in and locked the bindings. I made it to school that day. I've also done snow shoes to school. Whatever works.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 8:00PM
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mwheel, I don't know much about my north, south, east or west directions. Please explain.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 9:01PM
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They're purely American colloquialisms west.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 8:47AM
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West, as Rob wrote, they're probably "local" words added for explanation. When I looked at a map, north seemed "up" at the top and south "down" at the bottom, same with "back" east and "out" west. But when I try to explain it, it now seems pretty silly! :>)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 2:15PM
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rob333 "American colloquialisms". Thanks. I guess that's something I have not learned. Lol, when we lived in VA I thought we lived in the south, but when I told people we were driving to FL, they'd say something like, oh, you're going down south. Huh? I could go on and on with my puzzle about up north, down south, back east and out west.
How do you know when you reach any of these destinations?

mwheel,glad you brought up the subject, I've never found it on a map either. And I don't know if any of the GPS apps will tell us when we reach the down south, or the deep south.I guess people "just know" where they are at.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 7:47PM
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We used to drive down the Pa turnpike and stop at:

They had the best hot dogs

and the cleanest restrooms.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 9:01PM
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I wasn't alone in the car, but the farthest I ever personally drove was Lincoln, Nebraska, to Durango, Colorado, which is about 650 miles. Up and over mountains, doing the dead-eye stare thing.

Alone in the car, my longest adventure was probably driving from Sarasota down through the Fla. Keys as a grad student, sometimes sleeping in the car because I felt too poor to cough up hotel money. For whatever reason, I rather like traveling alone.

And I remember that storm of '78. It was the winter I learned how to drive. My bad snow-driving story was a couple of years later, however. I had to return to school in downstate Illinois, and they had closed I-57 for a blizzard. I, being, stubborn, decided to get down using the backroads. I pretty much ended up plowing snow with my little two-seater Fiat, which was so poorly built that slush thrown by trucks would actually spray in through the windshield seals. What was normally a three-hour trip turned into a 12-hour or so drive, plus a night in a Bates-like motel (warmed mostly by a bottle of rum), and I lost fifth gear, but I made it in time for the semester start.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 11:58PM
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Rofl dirtdiver, especially the part about the Bates Motel. I've stayed in a few of those in my day with a chair propped up to the door knob to jimmy the door closed and wondering how many peep holes were drilled into the walls. I remember the bravery of youth.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 10:18AM
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dirtdriver, you and dh could trade road stories and I think that the two of your would have a great time. But all of this kind of driving was before my time.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 8:02PM
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I love to drive and it is a good thing because
I live in my car most days.

Neil and I drove from Georgia to Oregon for a reunion.
I think I wrote about it here. That's when we met Sheila and before Neil outlived his mind and eyesight
as he says.
It was such fun. I called KJ almost everyday to give her an update and to describe our adventures which she shared here with you.

I started driving to see my Aunt Julia in Virgina when the kids were small. The first time I did it, I was scared
to death but after that, shoot, I would drive anywhere by myself. I had driving to Indiana to see Aunt Avis down to a

I always drive when we go on a girl trip.

Every time I get out and drive, I am in awe of just what
a beautiful country we live in. Sometimes it just takes my
breath away.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 3:06PM
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Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, October 1948
Duke was discharged, he was a happy fellow. The Army issued him a voucher for rail-transport from New Jersey to his home-state, California, but he had his discharge money and decided we should get a used car and drive West. He became the proud owner of a 1930�s Cadillac Touring Car, impressive, with running-board and back seating area as big as some living-rooms. I didn�t know anything about cars or actually what he spent on it, it was all new. I knew that Uncle Fritz, back in Frankfurt, always had big, impressive automobiles, so I took this for routine.
So off we went, cruising around in that monster car, made it to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where the car gave up the ghost. The bitter lesson: used car dealers setting up business adjacent to an Army base full of eager, na�ve brand-new civilians are predators.
We had checked into a small hotel, trying to think what to do next. The people in the hotel were so nice, they fell in love with Joann, gave her balloons, and that evening the owner gave us two movie tickets and baby-sat Joann, so we could have at least a little relief from our worries.
Next day, Duke went to the garage, the mechanic said the Caddy was definitely a basket case, but he had an old, 1934 Chevy, slated for the wrecking-yard, but operable, that he�d give us, it needed a quart of oil every hundred miles, but otherwise was running good. Duke took the deal, and we were off, going West.
It was possible to get used oil by the gallons for maybe a quarter, sometimes it was free, so every hundred miles we pulled over and Duke put some oil in "Old Betsy".
Motels and fast food joints were not available then, we stayed in "cabins", usually less than a dollar a night, they were not particularly nice, but gave us a chance to sleep, clean up, wash the diapers.
Picked up bread and lunch-meat or cheese in grocery stores. Joann ate whatever we had, she was nine months old and a good eater.
The memorable part of the trip got us to St. Louis and onto Route 66.
One night, in the Ozarks, we had a cabin with a wood-stove. The proprietors invited us to have dinner with them, they made sure the stove was well stocked , wanted us to stay a couple more days, because they were going squirrel hunting and we should experience how good the stew would be, but we were in somewhat of a hurry to go and face Duke�s parents, so we declined.
I remember a motel in New Mexico which had a roadside attraction: cages full of rattlesnakes, I didn�t sleep very well that night.
That old Chevy kept chugging along, in retrospect I believe it was the ideal car for the trip, I didn�t know enough about Duke�s regular driving habits, this vehicle couldn�t be pushed too hard, we had to stop every hundred miles, had a chance to walk around, do diaper changes, look at the ever-changing scenery, I realized that this was a BIG country.
People were friendly, we always had our evening meal in a diner, each was different, menus were more regional. Route 66 was a major highway, but it meandered, most of the time one lane each way, through little towns and villages.
Scenery got more spectacular, the Desert of New Mexico and Arizona and then the winding mountain road to Flagstaff, awesome!
Entered California late at night, at Needles and, money running short, decided to go on to Calimesa, where Duke�s parents lived.
We hit a desert sand-storm, high wind pushing at the car, sand getting between one�s teeth, into one�s eyes, I put a clean cloth over Joann�s face to protect her a little.
Duke kept apologizing, telling me California wasn�t always like this.
I cherish the memory of that road-trip, it was a vacation before "real" life started, almost like eating dessert first, and it can�t ever be repeated the way it was then.
Arrived at Duke�s parent�s place after midnight - and another story began.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 3:39PM
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Lots of road trips later ad to do with getting to a vacation spot, the Sierras, Yosemite and other places for camping, later to the Delta for oating, but that first road trip was special, because it can't be repeated.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 1:20AM
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Last year my sister and her grand daughter came to visit from New Zealand and took pictures standing on Rt. 66 where the name is painted on the asphalt near Bullhead City.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 12:38PM
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A cyber friend and I have travelled many roads on the net. He travelled down rt66, he took a photo (sorry no photo), and included a midi of rt66. Memories.

Here is a link that might be useful: rt66.mid

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 7:59PM
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