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Musings: Road Trip

Today’s topic is: “Have you ever been on a road trip?”

I am a BIG fan of road trips! I’ve made more cross-country drives than I can reliably count. The roads between Boston and Minnesota, and from here down to Arizona have been particularly well-traveled. Just in the last few years, I’ve made that trip at least five times. (One-way by myself in my Miata, one-way by myself in my Land Cruiser, one-way with my husband and a 4-month-old daughter in my CRV, and round-trip with the whole family in my hubby’s pickup truck.)

But I’m excited to tell you about the most epic of road trips. It was the fall of 1986 when my mother, sister, and I spent six weeks driving from Vermont to Florida and back in a 1974 Chevy camper van. We called it “The Lady Bug Bomb.”

old van

Of course, we mailed a postcard from the smallest post office in the U.S.

It seems like everything we did on that trip was a new experience for me! It was the first time my sister and I were taken out of school for such a long period of time. I remember doing math homework on the little linoleum table in the van along the way and I think we had to give some sort of oral presentation to the class when we got back.

It was my first trip to the big city – New York City. I met Mike, the man who within a year would become my stepfather (although I didn’t know that at the time). He took me to my first Broadway play (Cats). And it was the first time I was interviewed by a television news reporter; we were at FAO Schwarz. They were covering a public appearance by the momentarily famous Fruit Roll-Up chimpanzee and I was scared to death of the camera’s spotlight!

I celebrated my tenth birthday on the road and my parents gave me a red boombox and my very first store-bought cassette album: Bryan Adam’s Summer of 69.

10th Birthday boombox

That trip was also the first time I remember seeing Civil War battlefields, the red-orange soil of the deep south, eating boiled peanuts from a roadside stand in Georgia, researching Booker T. Washington for a history project, seeing Florida cockroaches the size of mice, and swimming in the warm ocean (with a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a barracuda). And it was my first (and only) trip to Disney World and Epcot Center.

 

While it would be difficult to top the novelty of that amazing trip, my most adventurous road trip as an adult was in June 2010. I spent a week driving my Miata around the back roads of the Midwest, visiting seven eligible farmers I’d met through an online dating website. “The Farm Tour” as it is now known, was a combination of The Bachelorette meets Dirty Jobs and is the subject of an upcoming memoir. (More on that later.)

But I’m sure that my girls will have the chance to make road trip memories in the near future. Just like that old van we drove to Florida 30 years ago, my husband is in the process of renovating a 1972 Ford Econoline camper van that we call “Hawkeye.”

hawkeye

As you can see, it was painted a very noticeable combination of black and yellow by the previous owner (a University of Iowa Hawkeyes fan). After removing the 37 football-themed decals, we added signage for our online business PlateGames.com (which offers downloadable travel bingo games featuring specialty license plate designs).

Hawkeye 2

By this summer, Hawkeye’s brand-new, completely redesigned interior will be ready for a few weekend jaunts around Minnesota. And if all goes well, we will spend several weeks touring the east coast next fall! #BeeOnTheLookout for our obnoxious van and you can win a free gift from PlateGames.com!

 

Tell us about your favorite road trip experience in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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