I’ve always loved road trips. My best friend and I would hop in the car with a map, several days off of work and no plan. That’s right, no plan.
We had no idea how far we’d get each time and where we’d end up going. This was in a time prior to cell phones, navigation systems, laptops or 24 hour gas stations.
We were armed with very little cash, a credit card for emergencies and a map. A real-actual-hold-in-your-hands-map. And that was all.
Most nights we’d just pull over in a campground and sleep in the car for a few hours. Or stop at a beach somewhere, lay a blanket out and nap. Saying that now sounds odd, but that is what we did. One night as we neared the end of a tank of gas with no open gas stations in sight (things weren’t 24 hours back then!), we pulled over and slept next to the pump. When the station opened in the morning we pumped our gas and off we went.
These are memories I think of often and smile.
On each of our road trips we had a starting point. One particular summer we had 5 days off work and our first destination was Mt. Rushmore. We arrived there in the middle of the night, slept in our car in a parking lot near the entrance to the park and toured the area at sunrise. After a few hours we looked at a map and decided to keep heading west.
We made it as far west as Yellowstone National Park to see Old Faithful. And then we knew it was time to turn around and start our trek back. But why come home the same way we came? So we decided to head north a little way and then back east. I should have probably told you that our starting point was Minneapolis, MN.
We listened to music on a portable tape deck because her car did not have a CD player OR a tape deck and through the mountain areas you could not get a radio signal. I’m dating myself now aren’t I?
We laughed and talked nonstop. We had a blast!
Several years later we decided we needed another spontaneous road trip so off we went. We had more time and planned to travel further this time.
Original starting point was again Minneapolis, MN and our furthest destination was Beverly Hills 90210 baby (loved that show!). We stopped in Denver, CO for a quick visit and then we decided to head to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It wasn’t what we were expecting. It was very green and full of trees. So we decided to check out the south rim too for comparison (it is further away than you think!). It was completely different with it’s rocky terrain and colorful landscape.
After that we were off to Phoenix to surprise a cousin, do some laundry, take a shower and sleep in a real bed. Our visit was short before we were off again! We kept heading west and before long we arrived at Hollywood Bowl. But we had no idea where we were! We let ourselves into the area and walked right up on stage. We were totally innocent as we snapped photos of ourselves hanging out on stage. Then a kind security guard politely told us we couldn’t be up there because there was some rehearsal about to start at Hollywood Bowl. Who knew?!
From there we headed north up the California Coast to San Francisco, road the trolly cars, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and then hopped in our car and headed toward Lake Tahoe and Reno. From there we made a stop back in Denver, CO before heading back to Minneapolis, MN.
It’s fun to think back to those times before all the technology; before the husbands; and before the kids. We were two young girls without a care in the world. We had no money, but we experienced amazing things. We would just hop out of the car and climb up the side of a mountain because we could. We weren’t on a schedule. We stopped where we wanted and when we wanted. We didn’t have a plan or a destination. We just knew when we needed to be back home. Whatever happened between that first day and that last day was unknown.
Times are different now.
We’re planning a 20 hour road trip with two toddler boys and we are mapping out our drive; where we will stay to break up the trip; what activities, toys and DVDs we are bringing to occupy the boys in the car. I’ll be making notes and lists and preparing for weeks prior to leaving. And when the day finally arrives, we will have the destination address plugged into the GPS and the boys will be watching DVDs in the minivan and playing on the iPad.
Yes, times are different now.