Road trip!

It was early spring 1975. We must have been feeling a bit guilty —Art and I were (already!) approaching our third wedding anniversary, but we hadn’t yet made it “home” so Art and my family could meet one another.

We had our excuses, of course. We moved twice before our second anniversary—the first time as newlyweds, the second because of military orders. In between times, Art had deployed aboard two different aircraft carriers, and I spent a summer away in order to participate in a semester-long training course. Military assignments, time, money, and distance each figured into our delay but, once Art was transferred to shore duty, we decided the time was right for a summer adventure.

It’s long enough ago that I don’t remember the details of our planning process, but there’s no doubt the trip was a tremendous undertaking. We were each able to secure three weeks’ worth of leave—surely that would be enough time to cover the 7,000 miles between our several destinations! And I should mention that our ride, a sporty 1972 Mercury Capri, was NOT air conditioned and, rather than boarding him, we decided to take our cat along for the trip.

Found on Google Images

Found on Google Images

The first leg of our journey took us from our home in Key West, Florida, to central Montana to visit my family. Except for a couple of overnight stays with friends, we were on the road well before dawn each day, taking advantage of cool early morning temperatures so we could cover at least 500 miles each day.

I was a bit nervous about this first meeting (I was afraid Art would be overwhelmed by my large family compared to his much more compact version). I needn’t have worried though. Art fit in immediately, and it didn’t take long for my parents to realize that Art was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It was an interesting visit—my youngest sister was nearly four years old and very shy, most of my younger brothers and sisters had grown so much I hardly recognized them compared to when I had last seen them, and there were a couple of in-law spouses in the mix as well.

Our next destination was San Diego, California, to visit one of my Navy roommates. I honestly can’t believe I managed to persuade Art to take on the additional distance, though I do have vague memories of conversations along the lines of “if we are going hat far, we might as well go visit Gloria too.” (It’s obvious I didn’t have a good grasp of geography.)

We probably didn’t spend more than a couple of days in San Diego because we still had to make a hasty beeline across the entire width of the U.S. and the combined width and length of Florida. I have NO memories of that portion of the trip, so I can only imagine that it was a day-after-day repetition of 10- to 12-hour drives and too-short stays in roadside motels. But, since I’m still here to tell the story, it can’t have been too bad.

We had only one disagreement that I can remember. As we were driving through Colorado, I pointed out every sign I saw that advertised Pike’s Peak. At first Art just muttered variations of “we don’t have time” but after a while he didn’t even bother to comment about whatever billboard or road sign I noticed. We eventually passed the “last chance for Pike’s Peak” sign—I was so disappointed we didn’t stop that I think I didn’t speak to Art for at least a couple of hours. (Note: We were finally able to visit Pike’s Peak on a family reunion trip a few years ago. It took us more than three decades to get there, but it was worth the wait. And I probably enjoyed it more when we did finally get there because of all the family drama around the first non-visit.)

So there you have it…precious memories of a long-ago trip. Wherever you go this summer, whatever you do, I wish you fun, safe travels, and wonderful memories.

P.S. I just realized that I’ve already told a version of this story for an earlier Storytelling Sunday. I apologize to anyone who read this and felt a sense of deja vu. The only excuse I can offer is that the start of summer always reminds me of our first, and probably favorite, vacation.

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Posted for Sian’s Storytelling Sunday, a first-Sunday-of-the-month meme. This year’s optional theme is Pick Your Precious. Feel free to join in with your own story—about a souvenir, a family heirloom, a memory, or something completely different.

8 thoughts on “Road trip!

  1. Gosh, you really covered some miles here! It must have been strange seeing your family after such a long gap? Getting the memories down is so important – even if it is long after the event. You are reminding me to do this more often.

  2. Sounds like you had a great vacation but after having to drive 3000 miles over the space of 10 days with stops for family visits I really feel for the driver. It takes the stuffing out of you! Even the hire car guy was surprised when I returned the car by myself with three little kids. But the trip and the family were worth it all and I would do it again in a heart beat!

  3. What a great story and a great car (despite lack of AC!). I admire your stamina, I don’t think my husband and I would fare so well in a road journey like that! Love the sense of adventure and excitement you’ve written about.

  4. It’s a wonderful story because it takes us on a journey through time and space..hugely enjoyable especially with that evocative photo. Well worth the telling!

  5. Wanda, it is indeed a wonderful story, one that I am glad you shared and I read it with a constant smile. Your Capri is about the same size as the Mustang II Steph and I had when we 1st got married. Like the Capri it didn’t have AC, but unlike the Capri the longest trip we ever took in it was from DC to KY and back. Knowing you and Art as I do, made this story that much more fun for me. Thanks again for putting fingertips to keyboard. Take care, Bill

  6. I can’t imagine being in the car for that length of time. My husband and I are not good car travelers – we stop every two hours – the 7 hour drive to our grandson is about the limit of our driving stamina.

    So kudos to you for making your marathon trip all those years ago! And living to tell about it.

  7. Wow it must have felt like the longest trip in the world I should imagine! How did your cat cope with being in a car 10/12 hrs a day? It was told very well and as it was new to me I really enjoyed hearing about it.

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