July 4, 2006
I've been meaning to write a bit about the trip we took a few weeks ago, and I got the inspiration I needed when I read the review of a new book, Are We There Yet? by Robert Sullivan (2006). (The review was in the New York Times Book Review, July 2, 2006). (The subtitle of the book is worth a mention: "Fifteen Years and Ninety Thousand Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with Lewis and Clark, a Lot of Bad Motels, a Moving Van, Emily Post, Jack Kerouac, My Wife, My Mother-in-Law, Two Kids, and Enough Coffee to Kill an Elephant" -- sounds like many a trip I've taken!)
The reviewer (Bruce Barcott) commented: "Our south-north crossing bound our family with the emotional ties of shared adversity, and it's Sullivan's contention that road trips bind us together as a nation. America is all impatience and movement and 10 more miles to higher wages and warmer winters. "The America that I see," he writes, "is an America that tells you to keep moving, to move on to something better, to get on the road and keep going, to stop only briefly to refuel your car and yourself but then to keep pushing toward the place that is closer to where you should be or could be, if only you would keep going. America says move, move on, don't sit still.... In other words, America is the road."
On my recent visit to my niece's wedding (in rural Mass.), my sister and I reminisced about some of the trips our family took while we were growing up and shared stories of our own families' trips. Road trips are an important part of my story. On June 6, I blogged about a nifty map-maker I found -- and when I entered the states I had visited, I found that I'd at least set foot in 45 of our 50 states.
Since our family moved to Texas from New York when I was 10 (believe me, it felt like the move to tne end of the earth), we made many road trips back "home" to see family. But we also took major trips through the southwest, far west, deep south, and other parts east. I think the nadir was the trip when my father was suffering from a kidney stone but didn't want to tell any of us because he wanted to keep pushing on to the next destination. He didn't say anything until my mother noticed that he paced all night in the motel room -- fortunately, he made it to the hospital early the next morning for appropriate care. That's driven!
The "move on" factor seems to be peculiarly American. I've had interesting discussions about it with my European friends. It happens in decisions about going away to college, in taking first jobs, in following promotions, and then in finding the perfect place to retire to. The nomadic existence creates complications with family responsibilities, however. In my case, parents, kids, and grandkids have all conveniently migrated back to Texas. Hmmm.
Happy 4th of July - Time for a road trip! Woops - how much does that gas cost??
(By the way, the size rental car we reserved for our trip was not available, so they gave us an "upgrade" to a minivan. Interestingly, the headline in the NYT that same day was "When an upgrade is a downgrade" - because of the price of gas. But we got a Toyota Siena, and it got 25mpg, which isn't bad. It had a nice smooth ride. If I needed a minivan, that's how I'd go - but I don't. I'm thinking Prius.)
In a forthcoming post, I'll talk about 4 specialty museums we saw on our trip - all were memorable and worth a visit.
Posted by hgroteva at July 4, 2006 5:03 AM | Travel