Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Five: Road Trip

Jan at RevGalBlogPals writes:

My husband and I just returned (on Wednesday night) from a long road trip up the middle USA to Canada, going through various national parks, and on to the Puget Sound of Washington State. This brought back memories of family road trips with my children and when I was a child, so the idea of today's Friday Five arose.
Tell us about five road trips--in your childhood, in your family, in your recent past, with friends, and/or hoped-for-places-to-drive-to. Don't forget the one that stands out as the BEST or as the worst time.

road-trip

1. The first road trip I remember was in the spring of 1955 when my parents, four younger siblings, and I drove from El Paso, Texas to Bowdoinham, Maine, with a stop in Norwalk, Ohio “on the way.” My father had orders for Germany, to which we’d follow in about 6 months, so he ws taking some leave time to take us back to our little house in Maine where we’d await our port call. I don’t remember what kind of car we had other than it was a sedan of some kind. My eldest younger brother sat in front because he had a tendency to get car-sick. I was in back with the twins, who were about 2 1/2, and baby brother who was just about to turn one. The space between the front and back seats was filled with footlockers padded with blankets. I’m not sure about the diapers – I think disposables were just becoming available and we may have used those some of the time, but I also seem to recall a diaper pail and occasional stops at laundromats.

We did some sight-seeing along the way – I remember a stop at a scary snake farm – and sampled indigenous cuisine such as catfish-flavored grilled cheese sandwiches in the Ozarks. The visit to Norwalk was to see my aunt’s family, which included my one same-age cousin, and was a welcome respite from the road. When we arrived back in Maine at last, I remember my parents pointing out damage from the previous fall’s hurricane. I think it was a good trip.

2. After our return from Germany, we lived for several years in southern Connecticut, about a six-hour drive from home in Maine, so there were several trips a year. My mother would make sandwiches (to this day I dislike egg salad; I preferred when she would make “Italians” as we call them here); my parents would have a big thermos of coffee, and I suppose we kids had something to drink too. The clearest memory of these trips is the landmarks we looked for – East Rock and West Rock in New Haven, which meant we were really on our way; the various giant billboards and advertising statues just north of Boston; the fourteen (I think( underpasses of New Hampshire, and then the bridge across the Piscataqua from New Hampshire to Maine, which cost a dime. I would begin to feel at home as soon as the first toll-booth attendant said “Thank YOU sah!” but the twins did not ever believe we were in Maine until the smell of woodsmoke wafted through the car windows. When we got to our road, since nearly everyone who lived on it was a relative, my father would honk the horn at every house we passed until we arrived at my grandparents’ house, where Grampie’s dog Dinah would rush out to welcome us.

3. When we went to Germany again in the mid-60s, I hung out at the post library a lot. The librarian and I became friends and the summer before my senior year we took a little road trip in her VW Beetle. Since we were in Stuttgart, we took a wonderful trip around Bavaria to the south, visiting Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberammergau, and two of Mad King Ludwig’s castles, Schoss Linderhof and Schloss Neuschwanstein (the latter the model for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle). We also got as far as Lake Constance and looked across to Switzerland. At night we would stop wherever we were and find a Gasthaus mit Zimmer Frei – I just remember one town, Bad Kohlgrub, the name of which my parents found hysterically funny. Riding through the Bavarian Alps was a bit scary for me but we sang folksongs and musical theatre numbers which distracted acrophobic me at least a bit. It was a great trip.

neuschwanstein

4. Our third Christmas together, Onkel Hankie Pants and I headed for Maine from southern Minnesota, in our little Austin America. Our first child was on the way. I had checked out the Mobil Travel Guide from the library and planned a route through Toledo, Ohio (our first stop) and then a stop in Fairfield, Connecticut to see my friends whose families still lived there. In Toledo we even had a motel reservation – unfortunately in the same motel where some bowling club was having a loud Christmas party. Not much sleep there. Driving through the Poconos in a slushy snowstorm was interesting, to say the least. Also, the muffler gave up the ghost so our stop in Connecticut included a visit to the muffler shop; as I recall, the repair didn’t exactly work and the Wisconsin-Minnesota portion of our return trip was a little noisy. However, we had a fine time in Connecticut even though we all went to see a Bergman film, and a wonderful Christmas in Maine.

1971 Henrik's first car, orange Austin AmericaThis is a picture of the Austin; imagine it bright orange.

5. I’ve enjoyed many road trips since, and hope to have a few more, but the one that stands out is a “shunpike” tour we took when our son was 4 years old. With the help of Jane and Michael Stern’s book Roadfood and a few other guidebooks, we planned a fun and educational trip. (And I know my daughters are jealous now. There are advantages to being the eldest.) Some highlights of the trip included visiting the reproduction of the Ingalls family cabin in Pepin, Wisconsin (we had already read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books to SonShineIn), followed by riding the ducks at Wisconsin Dells. We went swimming in Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes State Park, rode a barge on the Erie Canal (where SonShineIn covered himself with glory by loudly bursting into “I’ve got a mule, her name is Sal, Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal” unprompted); and on the return trip, Niagara Falls. Below, a few photos from that trip.

197907 Niels at Lake Michigan - Indiana DunesIndiana Dunes State Park

1979 06 25 Niels and Henrik at Little House in the Big Woods Onkel Hankie Pants and SonShineIn at the Ingalls cabin reproduction in Pepin, WI.

Looking back, I can’t remember a road trip that I didn’t enjoy most of the time. I’ve been fortunate in my traveling companions!

3 comments:

Processing Counselor said...

Loved the illustrations!

Jan said...

Wonderful stories! And I remember using those Mobile travel guides, which were the only available resources when we were newly married. I thought of that this summer, as we used the internet and Moon and Lonely Planet state guides.

Purple said...

Quite fun to "travel" with you on your road trips. Thanks.