It would be a gross understatement to say that my husband and I have different travel styles. Andy is strictly a First Class-Accommodations-All-The-Way kind of guy. And when I say First Class, I mean it in the very special way that only the British travel First Class. Think of the days of Empire when Englishmen travelled on Safari with their own linen, crystal and china (complete with family crest.)
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that style of travel and have come to enjoy it. But part of me still loves the good old American Road Trip. You know the classic American Road Trip? The American Road Trip of spartan but clean motels, diner food and a meandering route where you bypass no attraction — whether it’s a Civil War monument or a cheesey roadside attraction. Growing up in a Military family, we had a road trip at least every two years. Really epic road trips largely because the Army seemed to have a policy that if my Dad was stationed in Alaska, his next posting should be New York. Or if he was at the Pentagon, the next base should be Fort Huachuca, Arizona. That Alaska to New York road trip? That was one of my first, accomplished in an Airstream trailer down the Al-Can Highway which was still under construction.
I tried to introduce Andy to the pleasures of the American Road Trip once. I drove him around the American Southwest in a rented car with a tent and a camp stove. He tried to be game about it until one night, camping in the Petrified Forest of Arizona, listening to the ever more menacing howls of coyotes drawing closer. Andy turned to me and said, “Here I’d never seen much of the American West. And you’ve brought me to the middle of nowhere and there’s tons of sand and the trees are all stone. No one back in England would believe this. What the $%@# am I doing here?” He’s been planning most of our vacations since.
I still grab a road trip whenever any occasion presents itself. If I’m going somewhere that’s only, say, a few hundred miles away, I’ll drive. And hit every tourist spot vaguely in between Point A and Point Z. Last summer, I took an epic cross-country road trip with my niece to show her the America outside of Maine where she’d seldom ventured. It was a little more upscale than my Southwest trip with Andy. We stayed at KOAs. And sometimes we sprang for the Kozy Kabin. (That trip was covered in an early primitive blog here.) After that, I chauffeured my 75-year-old mother and her good friend on a trip from San Francisco, down the Big Sur, to Hearst Castle and Paso Robles wine country and back. (Chronicled starting here to here.)
I’m already dreaming up a road trip down to see the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano in spring, with a sidetrip to the Getty Museum and as many off-beat roadside attractions as I can find — including the site of the first McDonald’s.
What’s really got me in full road trip planning mode is the announcement that BlogHer ’09 will be held in Chicago this next summer. It didn’t take too many steps for me to get from “Gee I hate O’Hare Airport” to “Well, I could just get there by road trip.”
Anyone else on for this? I’m serious. I see a convoy and booked KOAs from the Pacific to the shores of Lake Michigan.