I just left Park City for a 27- hour drive to Maryland. The plan is to drive straight through, which is a weird thing. You lose a whole day of your life. I’ll be confused about whether its Monday or Tuesday til about Wednesday. We just passed through Evanston, Wyoming, home of the Fireworks and Liquor Store. Think about that for a second. Awesome. And spooky. Eventually, we’ll cross into Nebraska. These Western states are relentlessly wide and their highways hypnotic. Then, at a faster pace will come Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and some time on Monday, Maryland.
One of the great life experiences is the road trip. I have memories of more than a few seared into my brain. Like when my parents used to load my brother and me into the back of the station wagon and drive through New England and Eastern Canada every other year. I always got carsick and threw up. But we never changed the plan. Then, we’ d cram four of us into a motor court room; my dad would wake us up at 6:30 am; we’d drink orange juice and eat powdered sugar doughnuts and rush to the first attraction of the day…. which invariably wasn’t open yet. But we never changed the plan.
Those trips morphed into college trips from Indiana University to Florida or Texas for spring break or back home to Maryland for the summer. I got more than my share of speeding tickets. Thankfully, I wasn’t paying for my insurance at that time (thanks, Dad,) (Thankfully, I was insurable at all. Thanks, Geico!)
Then there was the road trip to Abilene, Texas for my first television job. My dad came with me. When we drove into town, I don’t think he wanted to leave me there with the tumbleweeds and cowboys and the shed I’d chosen to live in. But to his credit, he did, allowing me to toe the line at the start of something big.
A favorite road trip was at the other end of my tv career, when Soo-zann (inside joke, sorry!) and I drove 36 hours from Orlando to Park City. Both of us like to be the driver, so we’d try to trick each other into giving up the wheel. You know, request a restroom stop and run back to the car and seat belt up before the other one knew what was happening. We had passengers: My cat Pee Wee Jimmie Johnson and my saber tooth tabby “Spalding.” Soo-zann wasn’t sure she wanted to share a hotel room with Spalding, since she’d have to sleep with her throat exposed. In his defense, he never even stalked her. Finding pet- friendly hotels wasn’t that easy. In Grand Island, Nebraska, I found one place that took $50 cash for a night. Soo- zann was mortified and aggressively nixed that plan, forcing me to go back into the manager’s office and get our money back. The cardboard over the windows was too much for her.
I know lots of people just want to Be There, at the destination. But I always like the traveling part of a trip, the destination, too. It’s all part of the adventure, and you never know… You may be lucky enough to discover another Fireworks and Liquor store.