There’s something about a person dying in the middle of a road trip — while the rest of the people in the car either refuse to acknowledge it or, having done so, to stop driving — that is simply irresistible to comedy writers. Aunt Edna died in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” and was strapped to the roof of the family truckster. Grandpa died in “Little Miss Sunshine” and was stashed in the way-back of the VW bus. I’m sure there are a few million others I’m forgetting.
And every so often it happens in real life:
Police interviewed this week a Clinton Township man who drove from Arizona to Michigan with a dead woman sitting in the front seat of his 2004 Ford cargo van.
…During a stop in Flagstaff, Ariz., the woman used the restroom and got back in the van, which didn’t have working air conditioning. She reportedly fell asleep somewhere along the route in either Texas or Oklahoma and never woke up. Police said the driver checked on the woman and found her cold to the touch and unresponsive.
Police said the driver did an Internet search and believed that he had 48 hours to take the deceased to either a medical examiner’s office or to a morgue. So he decided to use that 48 hours to continue his drive back to Michigan.
Because we’ve all been on that road trip, right? The driver gets in the zone and won’t stop. An old boyfriend of mine said his father would make him and his brothers pee in empty pop bottles; only no. 2 would get him to stop, and it better be urgent no. 2, kids. America is a big country, and we’ve all crossed a third, a half, or all of it in a fast-moving car.
The woman was a drug addict, if you don’t have time to click through.
So how was everyone’s Wednesday? I drove to Ann Arbor and back, the return trip in the driving rain. I was aware of the state of my tires, and tried to take it easy. That’s never a great strategy in the great chariot race of Michigan freeways, where everybody knows unibody construction, air bags and an SUV makes a driver impermeable. Almost to my exit, Kate texted me this, their first press clipping:
There’s no denying that chick musicians can be an anomaly. It’s not that they’re not out there – they just might not be as out there.
But that isn’t really why Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, or DVAS, has been busy for the past few months – busier than most bands that have only been playing for six months might be – they might be a four-female band, but they’re a four-female band that’s as talented as they are kick-ass.
Forgive the “chick musician” part — the writer is an intern, and only graduated from high school herself last year. As such, she’s in the DVAS demographic, and I guess she can describe her peers however she likes. I was just amused by it, and by how thrilled Kate was to read it. Rock and roll criticism will never die.
Sorry to give you such short shrift today, but I spent most of the day either behind the wheel or sitting around a conference table, and am thinking I should get to work on this book stuff. Ever had a great road trip? Share yours.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 5, 2014 at 12:40 am
28 hours straight thru (van, multiple drivers) from Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana to Abiquiu, New Mexico (beloved home of Deborah). Two weeks in the vicinity based out of Ghost Ranch changed my life, but the drive and the experience was all part of it. I’d never been west of Council Bluffs, Iowa before, or south of Evansville. 1982.
Among many other things, I learned that Taco Bell was not selling me Mexican food. Not even close. And that primarily Spanish speaking people living within the continental United States may very well have a 1628 signed deed to their property in a cigar box on a shelf in their trailer home.
Dave said on June 5, 2014 at 1:18 am
My two brothers and I, straight through from Central Ohio to Layton, UT, north of Salt Lake City, leaving on Friday evening and arriving Saturday evening, to rescue our sister. We were pulling a UHaul trailer to bring her stuff back and I don’t know about now but there were no odometers on them then. We weren’t supposed to leave the state with it but we simply told them that we were going to, “The lake”, and they never questioned which lake. Yeah, it was an epic trip with many adventures.
Dexter said on June 5, 2014 at 3:15 am
Jesus. I freaked out when I had to accompany the body of an elderly woman to the morgue, and this was only a short shove on a hospital gurney. Halfway to the morgue from the ward, in the halls, her legs contracted and her knees rose up under her death-sheet. I was a young dumb medic, it somehow freaked me the hell out. The accompanying female nurse began laughing at me. Real-life horrorshow. I saw a lot of young dudes come back from Vietnam wounded horribly but I dealt with that OK…that old corpse “coming back to life” with the knee thing gave me nightmares.
I have a wealth of memories about road trips. I drove my Ford Galaxy back from California to DeKalb County, Indiana in 46 hours. Got stopped by the Nebraska troopers for a light out. An old man at a gas station fixed it in just three hours. I was going crazy with the impatience. I drove 80 mph most of the way.
I drove my ’66 VW Microbus from Indiana to Hyannis, MA in 1973. My first wife, the blonde, and our Pomeranian doggie. That was the trip where the dog walked through the barrier fence and pissed on Plymouth Rock. True. Nantasket Beach was fun .
Many trips to Florida for family vacays, many trips to the Carolinas to see wife’s sis in Charleston, and trips to Nag’s Head in NC. We love the Outer Banks the best.
My craziest trip went like this: June, exactly 40 years ago. Car: brand new Ford Pinto wagon, no AC. Passengers: wife, mother-in-law, wife’s half-sister, age 14. Destination: LA. We made it to a motel about an hour west of Reno on the third night. Mother-in-law and ex-wife got into a cat fight, a vicious punching match with much yelling and chaos. I had to drive the old lady and the kid back to Reno’s airport and book them back to FWA. The two of us continued on to LA via SF and Monterey.
Deborah said on June 5, 2014 at 4:42 am
When I was a junior in college my boyfriend and I along with my sister and another guy traveled from Seward, NB to Miami, FL for spring break in my boyfriend’s old VW bug. We drove straight through. Early in the morning we stopped for breakfast in Tupelo, MS, in an old diner with a screen door that kept banging shut when greasy haired truck drivers came in, to a man they all had cigarette packs rolled up in their t-shirt sleeves. An enormously fat waitress in an old housedress served us eggs and grits. Later when we were driving down through FL we stopped for gallons of fresh squeezed orange juice and every other gas station to pee. I drank so much oj I got hives which stayed with me most of the trip. It was hard to hide my red welts when I was wearing my bikini on the beach. I hardly remember the trip back except for having to stop for gas in East St. Louis at about 2am. The gas station attendant blew snot directly out of his nose onto the ground. Funny how the most mundane details stck with you.
Basset said on June 5, 2014 at 8:01 am
Fifteen hours straight through by myself in an old VW Beetle, Cadillac MI to Wheeling WV in January – got to my friend’s tenement brownstone downtown across the street from the Ohio at 4 am just as he was leaving for work, he said “there’s the weed, there’s the new Pink Floyd album” so I rolled one up and sat in the bay window watching the coal barges and hearing “The Wall” for the first time. Neighborhood was pretty well decayed then, I expect it’s been gentrified by now.
nancy said on June 5, 2014 at 8:20 am
I remember when happiness was a simple as that — weed and the new Pink Floyd album.
Basset said on June 5, 2014 at 8:59 am
Yeah, that was a side trip on my way back to IU – ran out of money and motivation middle of senior year, found work as what’s now called a “multi-media journalist” but at the time was just “one-man band,” going around shooting news by myself… on film… Finally realized that if I didn’t finish school soon I wasn’t gonna, so I went back for one last semester and a triumphant completion of my seven-year BA odyssey. Now I’m almost sixty and have my very own cubicle, what a long, strange trip.
Basset said on June 5, 2014 at 9:02 am
And the Floyds are getting positively Beatlesque in their continual repackaging of old material, they just released an updated, remastered, whatevered version of “Division Bell” that has all kinds of extraneous crap in it, live, vinyl, probably a lock of hair and toenail clippings if you look hard enough.
Wim said on June 5, 2014 at 9:08 am
Comparatively early in my late career in archaeology, I was what we called a shovel bum, willing to go wherever work took me. Me and another shovel bum got a steer toward some Federal work away up North in one of the cowboy states and took off from the border South in my pard’s clapped-out Mustang. Among other missing bits and pieces, there was no floor under the passenger seat–you could just look down at the highway blurring underneath, like a coarse belt on a sander. Pard was proud of this feature, as he believed he could use it to dump his stash anytime a cop might pull him over. There was no jack or tire iron, which didn’t much matter since there wasn’t a spare, either–as we discovered that freezing night on the howling prairie. By which time I was ready to kill Pard, and he me, and I started hitching rides.
So there I was about three a.m. in a two-door Caddy with this really weird guy who told me I should open the glove compartment. I did. There was a big auto pistol in there. I looked at the driver and he grinned at me. I reached into the glove compartment and he stopped grinning. ‘Hey, what is this?’ I asked. ‘A Browning? Is it–oh, yeah, I see it’s loaded.’ I held the gun until a town rose on the horizon. ‘Take the business route,’ I said. At a stoplight on Main I stripped the magazine, tossed it and the gun into the back seat, and ran away with my duffel. I found a diner, had some breakfast, and got directions to the bus station.
The following afternoon I got where I was going and came to find out, it was a bum steer. There was no job. In that age before cell phones, neither Pard nor I knew the job had been called off while we were on the first leg of our journey. And there wasn’t any way out of there until the next bus, the next day. I bought a bus ticket that would eventually drag me to St. Louis and resolved to squander my remaining funds on strong drink.
I went to the closest tavern to the bus terminal, which was also the raunchiest, and I had my first shot just about to my lips when the only other patron asked me just who I was. ‘What’s it to ya?’ I asked. He said something really odd and I wasn’t sure he really had, so I ran it back to him. ‘Did you say white eyes?’
‘I said you go drink in your own place, white eyes,’ he said.
‘Make me,’ I said.
He stood up. I stood up. He looked up at me. ‘Ha!’ he cried. ‘You’re all right! I’m buying!’
‘Well okay then,’ I said. A couple of shots later he asked me what I did. I told him.
‘Well,’ he said. ‘I never dug up your grandmother and stole her wedding ring.’
‘And that’s why you’re still alive,’ I said.
He gave me another big ha and told me he was an Innyun.
‘What the heck is an Innyun?’ I asked.
‘You know! Innyun! I’m a Sioux!’
‘Oh,” I said. ‘Cool.’
‘You know anything about Innyuns?’
‘None of them living,’ I said.
A couple of drinks later he said I should come out to his place and his old lady would serve us a traditional Innyun meal. Unless I was too good to eat traditional Innyun food. Or too much of a chickenshit.
We rode out into the approximate middle of nowhere in his rusted-out Chevy pickup. We stopped twice, first to piss, then he had to puke because he had hair in his throat, he said. Finally way in the distance there was a little speck of light that turned out to be the lit window of a single-wide trailer standing in stark isolation on a cinder block foundation. ‘You better wait here,’ he said. ‘I got to tell her you’re coming.’ About ten minutes later he leaned out and waved me over. ‘Come on! Come on! It’s cool.’
Today we would call these people hoarders. I sidestepped through a narrow lane in piled stuff to a built-in banquette table where a plump, scowling woman gave me a look that would etch glass. Then she served us two plates of Hamburger Helper. He and I ate in contemplative, companionable silence.
Nothing else happened that trip that is worthy of mention.
Pam (the sister) said on June 5, 2014 at 9:27 am
I know you’ve heard this road trip story, Nancy, but for your readers, I’ll tell the tale. It was when you, me and Mom went to the Shakespeare fest in Stratford. You were in Indiana at the time and drove separately. Mom and I were coming up from Columbus. She insisted on driving. I don’t remember how long ago that was, but she had apparently developed some serious old lady driving habits when I wasn’t looking. There was construction starting at about Findlay clear through Toledo that had the highway down to one lane, no passing. She slowed down to about 30 the whole way! I couldn’t coax or encourage her to go faster, no matter what I tried, even saying “but mom, there are miles of cars behind us!” When we finally broke through to 2 lanes again, the young guys behind us immediately passed and for at least a mile, aggressively shook their fists at us (with the middle finger straight up). This means that they had to get in the back seat and press right into the rear window (they were seriously pissed). I don’t blame them, we deserved it. For the drive back, I snatched the keys “I’m driving!” She said that perhaps she could take over about half way. That didn’t happen and certainly not in the Toledo area. The Shakespeare Fest was great at least.
brian stouder said on June 5, 2014 at 9:32 am
Basset and Wim make this thread the best of 2014, I think.
(Basset for poetry, and Wim for prose)
Judybusy said on June 5, 2014 at 10:40 am
Just today, I began reading this book, about two brothers and a friend who take a road trip to hunt dinosaur fossils. “It was 1975, and the cruising speed and the price of a gallon of gas were the same–75 if you catch my drift–so how could you not take a road trip with all those seventy-five lined up?” I’m quoting from memory, but that’s the general flavor of the writing. So far, it looks to be a great read.
I haven’t done many road trip as an adult–just to Milwaukee and recently to KC Missouri, but as a kid my family took two trips out west in a rented Winnebago. The first was when I was 7. I remember doing homework, stopping at a friends ranch in Wyoming and seeing a calf born with the help of a rope and heavy sticks for torque, and reading Black Beauty twice, because I didn’t bring enough to read. My dad wasn’t such an ass, and my older brother wasn’t horrible, as I recall. I have great memories of that first trip.
Judybusy said on June 5, 2014 at 10:41 am
Oh Christ onna stick. I re-read the coding THREE times. I have the formula written down to Double-check it. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Pictures-Trip-Tim-Rumsey/dp/0688039898
Heather said on June 5, 2014 at 10:45 am
Two road trips stand out in my mind. The summer after my first year at college me, my boyfriend and a friend of ours drove through Canada, from Montreal to Ottawa as I recall. I had been kept on a very short leash throughout high school (always had the earliest curfew among my friends, most of whom didn’t even have a curfew), so the freedom was totally exhilarating. And of course you could legally drink at 19 in Canada, so no worrying about fake IDs and all that.
The other was when I decided to move back to Chicago after a year in Seattle post-graduation. My best friend flew out, we loaded my stuff into a van, and we took the scenic route. Highlights were our stop at Yellowstone (where my friend first started to show a phobia about dangerous wildlife by insisting we make tons of noise at all times to alert any bears nearby of our presence) and visiting another friend at her parents’ cabin in a tiny town in Montana–probably the most remote place I have ever been in my life.
What I remember most about both trips is how free we felt, and how we didn’t realize how rare and precious it would be in our post-college lives to have such a long chunk of time to wander and explore.
brian stouder said on June 5, 2014 at 10:48 am
We’ve done the drive-all-night thing to see the Mouse, so leaving aside marathons like that, here’s my favorite drive: east on I-68 through the Alleghenys.
If you leave Fort Wayne at sunrise, and you have packed a cooler for lunch, then at lunchtime you’re at the Sidling mountain cut, and there’s a tremendous rest-stop there, with a very nice picnic area and a visitor center with all sorts of interesting geological displays – plus a tremendous view of the Maryland countryside (both forward and back!).
One time we spent the night in Hagerstown, and for some reason or other stopped at their WalMart. In the out-lot there was a refrigerated semi trailer with a big banner that sais “SEE THE WHALE”. I think the cost was a dollar – or maybe two. And you pay your buck and go in, and there was a an impressive looking dead whale!
And from there, Antietam/South Mountain isn’t terribly far, for the next day’s adventures on foot
Dorothy said on June 5, 2014 at 10:59 am
In December 1975 (four years before we got married) Mike and I left Pittsburgh to drive up to Erie so he could do some repairs in his dorm room at Gannon. The plaster around the doorway was crumbling badly and he wanted to patch it. It was snowing like mad and in good weather it was usually a 3 hour drive. I needed to pee but he was not happy about having to stop. Kiddingly he said “Can’t you just open the door if I slow down enough, and waddle next to the car like a penguin and pee while we’re moving?” I laughed ’til I nearly peed my pants. To this day we are nuts about penguins – I could decorate a small Christmas tree with all the penguin ornaments we have bought over the years.
Sue said on June 5, 2014 at 10:59 am
Wow, 14 comments in and no one’s yet mentioned the Romney road trip story, told as a heartwarming and amusing family romp where no bathroom breaks and flowing dog waste are just part of the fun. At least there wasn’t a dead body involved.
brian stouder said on June 5, 2014 at 11:23 am
Once at a rest stop, I got Pam a piggy salt-and-pepper shaker set.
She failed to see the humor in that, and was quietly angry at me for many (many) miles
Dorothy said on June 5, 2014 at 11:30 am
I forgot to say WIM FOR THE WIN! Loved that story very much.
jcburns said on June 5, 2014 at 11:35 am
“There’s no denying that chick musicians can be an anomaly. It’s not that they’re not out there – they just might not be as out there.”
I for one, deny their anomalous status!
I also find it dispiriting that the writer—a young woman herself—takes the approach of: “hey, women in a band! That’s not something you see every day.” Didn’t we get all this established in the 70s? The 80s? We didn’t? Uhh.
But I’m glad Kate’s band is getting a name out there.
nancy said on June 5, 2014 at 11:38 am
I cut the writer slack for two reasons:
1) She only graduated from high school herself last year; and
2) She works at her college newspaper, The Post. Yep, that one.
brian stouder said on June 5, 2014 at 11:44 am
and 3)She looks like her mom! (and from this distance, sounds like her, too)
Connie said on June 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm
Gas was .75 a gallon in 1977? I recall that in 1973 gas was .35 a gallon and cigarettes were .35 a pack.
MichaelG said on June 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm
In Dec’63-Jan’64 three of us drove from Champaign to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl in a ’63 Olds Starfire (UI beat WN 17-7). Wonderful car. We made it home in 36 hours. We’d stop for gas and a piss and buy a loaf of bread, a package of bologna and a jar of mustard. Our needs were simple. Eventless trip driving straight through. Maybe a touch of white line fever.
In June of 1968 three of us drove from L. A. to Ft. Bragg, NC in three cars. I had an almost new VW and my pals each had a brand new ’68 Chevelle 396 Super Sport. We left L. A. on June 6, the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated. I listened to the coverage all the way to Berdoo which was our first stop. The trip took us two weeks and we basically drank our way across the country. There were lots of adventures. It was a cool trip. I bought two cases of Coors in OKC and sold them for a dollar a can warm when we got to Ft. Bragg.
Basset mentioned Wheeling WV. I once drove the same V-Dub from Ft. Bragg NC to Wheeling for a weekend. Yes, this trip involved a girl.
They’re not ‘grits’ in the south, Deborah, they’re ‘gree-its’. I still remember my first encounter with them in a diner somewhere down there. I had no idea of what they were or of how to eat them and had to peek around at other peoples’ plates to see what they were doing.
Great story, Wim.
Julie Robinson said on June 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm
In 1988 my sister had been offered a job in Vero Beach, Florida, but without any moving allowance, and she’d been out of work for almost a year. She rented a U-Haul truck and towed her black Ford Escort (great car for Florida, right?), picked me up in the Fort and we traded driver duties.
Of course, neither of us had ever driven a truck, much less with a tow, and it was seriously under-powered. The Appalachians brought a lot of honking as we were pedal to the metal and only achieving 35 mph.
Jeri had bought a membership in AAA before the trip, a purchase that more than paid for itself when the truck got stuck under a motel awning that was lower than the owner had told us. But let me tell you, never, ever, EVER stay in a two-star AAA rated motel. It only took one night for me, between the noisy bugs and the rickety door and I said we’re upgrading, hang the cost.
We spent the night in Atlanta, and wrote off the political future of a southern governor after his interminably long speech at the Democratic convention. Mr. Clinton seems to have done okay for himself despite my early opinion.
We finally made it to Vero and found her a nice apartment and I got to fly back home. It’s amazing what you’ll do when you’re young, broke and stupid.
Joe Kobiela said on June 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm
Lots of road trip story’s from my Rugby days, but I don’t think the statue of limitation has worn off yet, let’s just say on one of them, going down Michigan 131 south out of Grand Rapids my buddy shark demonstrated what a moon roof was for.
Congrates to Kate and the band.
If you think about it tonight around 8 pm stop for a second and say thanks to all the brave men who stepped out of c-47 somewhere in the dark over France and opened the invasion of Europe 70 years ago.
The bravest of the brave, true band of brothers.
Dexter said on June 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm
MichaelG…back in 1968 regional dialects were more distinctive. “Gree-its” puzzled me in the diner in Winston-Salem, and when I ordered a can of Rise (old brand name) shave-cream, they young clerk (this was before North Carolina had self-serve drug stores even) thought I had ordered rice, and told me they sold no rice there, I had to go to the grocery store. And I could NOT make him understand, so the old white owner ambled over and finally I got my point across, and the old guy told the young one, “he wuntz uh canna “rahzz”. Bingo, sale. Oh,the diner…2 eggs, grits, fried potatoes, ham/bacon/sausage (choice), coffee…59 cents for the grub and a dime for the coffee and 15 cents for the tip. Cigarettes were free at the RJR Camel-Winston factory right downtown, all a fella hadda do was take a little tour a couple times a day. 🙂 And…the employees must have been forced to smoke, as those beautiful young women tour guides always had a log Winston a-glowin’. Here’ what happened to the old decrepit Zinzendorf Hotel a couple years after I was done with baseball. This dump was our HQ. No ac, plenny-cock-a-roaches, bath down the hall…what a shithole it was! http://www.digitalforsyth.org/photos/6095
Scout said on June 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm
In the summer of ’75, my future ex husband and his best friend and I did a road trip from Harrisburg, PA to Provincetown on Cape Cod in a light blue Fiat sedan. Higher than kites by the time we got up near NYC, we decided it would be an Most Excellent Idea to drive through the Big City. I forget which bridge we were on when the car broke down. Right there on the bridge in one of the lanes, laughing our asses off, with enraged New York drivers screaming at us as they passed. I don’t remember what the problem was, but somebody finally stopped to help and they got the car started and we eventually made it to the Cape. I honestly don’t know how I made it out of the 70’s alive.
Scout said on June 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm
And oh yes, another entry to add – GREAT story, Wim, and really all of them are most enjoyable.
Also, the great review of Kate’s band will be the first of many, I’m pretty sure. They are totally kick ass. I don’t think I commented the other day, but that pic of her in front of her gig was awesome.
Sherri said on June 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm
Once my future husband and I were in Philly to visit friends and see a baseball game at Veterans Stadium. After the game, we were heading back to Pittsburgh and needed to get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Straightforward enough, but one of our friends insisted that he knew a better way to avoid all the traffic. “Follow me”, he said, and he then took us through downtown Philadelphia, taking every traffic light on yellow, forcing me to speed through behind him and hope that I could beat the red and that no cops were near. All this to direct me to some tunnel, which was closed for construction! It’s a good thing he was in a separate car, because otherwise he would have been dead by this point. I did eventually make it to the Turnpike, but it would have been much faster to do the straightforward thing and sit in traffic.
My white-knuckle road trip experience involves driving from Tallahassee, FL to Cookeville, TN and coming over Lookout Mountain about 4 am in a dense fog. Nancy mentioning the documentary on the MOVE bombing also reminds me of where I was when I heard about it: checking into a motel in North Platte, NB about 2 am, in the middle of a road trip from Pittsburgh to Palo Alto. The clerk in the hotel was talking about what a tragedy it was, but she seemed so stoned it was all kind of surreal.
brian stouder said on June 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm
The Pa Turnpike is a little trippy even on a good day!
We’ve had the experience of motoring west on the Turnpike and being in a gully-washer of a thunderstorm, and then going through the big tunnel at Tuscarora (?) and popping out in the sunshine and dry pavement.
Also – it isn’t a very far jump off the main road to go visit the 9/11 crash site near Somerset, PA
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm
The road trip sequence of “Inside Llewyn Davis” was what made that movie worth watching. Well, that and “Please Mr. Kennedy.”
alex said on June 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm
Sherri, you mentioned North Platte, Nebraska. I remember it well as a major pissing stop on every childhood vacation to the west that my family ever took. It had a giant truck stop with a “trading post” chock full of faux cowboy-and-Indian crap for the tourists, as well as some novelty toys that I recall as being pretty racy to be on display where children could see them. Even tackier was the town of Ogallalla further to the west.
My family roadtripped every summer when I was a kid. My mom had her own little “happy box” up in the front seat, one of those old cocktail kits with glasses and a shaker, and she’d be making herself Manhattans and whiskey sours the entire time. We had a station wagon and my brother and I would play in the large rear compartment unrestrained. What a different world it was then. We generally didn’t do a lot of amusement park stuff but spent time in the National Parks and visiting museums and historical points of interest.
I haven’t done any serious roadtripping of my own in quite some time, but still do some daytripping and sightseeing when time allows.
MichaelG said on June 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm
Not big road stuff but aggravating – and amusing in retrospect. One time I had projects going at Mojave and Victorville at the same time. We started the day at Mojave. When we were done there, the idea was to drive to Victorville for lunch at a certain Mexican place. My inspector said “Follow me!”, hopped into his Chevy and took off down Hwy 58. This was fine until he blew right through the Four Corners at Hwy 395. We went from Mojave to Victorville via Barstow. Only 30 miles out of the way.
Another time I was traveling from Joshua Tree to Mojave with the client rep from the CHP in my car. We took some back roads out of Joshua Tree headed for Victorville. I told her that I wanted Hwy 395 when we got to Victorville and wasn’t sure how to get to it from Hwy 18. “No problem.” she said. “I know this area like the back of my hand.” Next thing I knew was that she had me on the 15 headed guess where. Yep, another 30 mile detour through Barstow on the way between Victorville and Mojave.
Sherri said on June 5, 2014 at 5:54 pm
When I was three, we lived in Amarillo, TX for about 6 months before my parents decided that they couldn’t stand it and wanted back in TN. (My dad’s job had moved us to Amarillo.) So, along with another family who also gave up on Amarillo, they loaded up a U-Haul, which the dads switched off on driving, and our station wagon, which the moms switched off on driving, and put all the kids in the way back, and drove straight through. I remember sleeping in the back of the station wagon. Since our families were moving back without jobs, nobody wanted to spend money on motels.
My dad’s job in Amarillo was with the Pantex plant, which I always heard as the Pancake plant.
nancy said on June 5, 2014 at 8:21 pm
OK, my turn. We were headed from Columbus to the U.P., and the trip was so Mark could enroll at Lake Superior State U. It was winter. We left Columbus way late in the evening, but what’s an all-night drive when you’re 18 years old?
The snow started around Toledo, the weed previous to that. No one was allowed to drive other than Mark because it was his beloved 1969 Camaro. After a while, everyone nodded off and Mark chose a series of Mahavishnu Orchestra cassettes for the stereo. The music sounded like this: BLOOblooblooblooBLOOblooblooblooBLOOblooblooblooBLOOblooblooblooBLOOblooblooblooBLOObloobloobloo, and so on.
Every so often, I would wake up and see the windshield filled with blowing snow, hear BLOOblooblooblooBLOOblooblooblooBLOOblooblooblooBLOObloobloobloo, etc. and ask, “Mark? Are you OK? You want to stop, or you want me to drive?” No, no stopping, and he was fine. Back to sleep. Eventually, dawn broke over the Mackinac Bridge, we all had coffee, we pulled into Cedarville, and we were fine.
But we still had to get to Sault Ste. Marie, and Mark hadn’t slept at all. I went with him with one other guy, to keep him company. The road from Cedarville to the Soo is straight as an arrow, and we were flying along, when he suddenly braked sharply and leaned forward, eyes squinted. “What, what?” I asked.
“Oh,” he said, putting his foot back on the gas. “I guess it was just a mirage.”
I insisted we pull over and he let the other guy drive. And I insisted on some music with a beat and some choruses. I mean.
basset said on June 5, 2014 at 10:54 pm
Reminds me of an epic run from Nashville to Cadillac, actually Caberfae out near Hoxeyville, a couple Christmases back. Thought I’d just drive till I got tired and let Mrs. B. or Jr. take over – I was fine through Indianapolis, started to wear down a little at the Fort, by the time we got to Lansing it was snowing hard and I was taking it as a challenge. Made it, twelve hours in a Subaru wagon, mission accomplished and I knew I’d gotten all-wheel drive for a reason.
Never quite got the point of Mahavishnu myself, and I was hanging around the IU music school in the mid-Seventies when fusion was the chosen music of the cool kids. Tangerine Dream, now, that’s another story – not what you want to hear when you’re trying to stay awake on a long drive, though.
BigHank53 said on June 6, 2014 at 12:41 am
I think my most memorable road trip must have been back in the early nineties, after an unpleasant ending to an eight-year-long relationship. (The end was overdue, and it wasn’t really either of our faults…but it wasn’t any fun.) Anyway, I was living in New Hampshire, and a college friend who’d moved to Boulder invited me to come out to Moab, Utah for the annual mountain bike festival. I think this is an dandy plan. There’s only one hitch: I don’t have a mountainbike at the moment. And I have no money. I do, however, have access to a machine shop. So I build myself a bicycle frame. In my spare time. The week before I leave. Which meant one all-nighter and a couple other nights being up into the wee hours. I did stop for a couple catnaps on the 2100 mile drive out there. I must have, because I survived. By the time I got to Boulder, I’d had less than fourteen hours of sleep in the previous four days. I’m told I slept for thirteen hours.
Ann said on June 8, 2014 at 10:10 pm
Just catching up after a week without wifi (the horror!) but have to add that I have a friend who, within the last 18 months, drove from Missouri to Illinois with her dead mother-in-law in the back of the camper. Her partner was in the car following. One kid was in the camper, the other two in the car. Pretty much the same story. Looked in the rear view mirror and realized MIL had passed to the other side (friend used to be a hospice chaplain and has seen many deaths). Pulled over long enough for a quiet consult with the partner and decided they’d rather deal with situation in Illinois than in Missouri. Stopped at a Steak and Shake in Mt. Vernon, leaving the camper at the far end of the parking lot. Fed the kids, let them in on what had happened, and called the cops, who took it from there. I gather they didn’t exactly let on that they’d known about this 100 miles earlier.