I love a road trip

Being goal-oriented has helped me achieve much of what I want in life. But I pity those closest to me when I set my sights on something outside my personal realm. My mind operates like a terrier, nuzzling and chewing, worrying on a bone until I figure out how I’m going to accomplish what could have been a mere passing fancy just moments before.

Such was the case with our Airstream.

Let me back up just a bit, though, because the Airstream tale has its origins in my youth.

I grew up on a working cattle ranch in Utah. As my dad’s most experienced (read: only) cowhands – my younger sister and I fed hundreds of calves before and after school every day. Summer vacation for us meant putting up hay or staying weeks at a time in the rustic Cattlemen’s Association cabin where we spent daylight building fence, putting out salt licks and moving cattle from one section to another of the U.S. Forest grazing unit.

Then one year, I think I was 13, we did something unheard of: We all left the ranch for a week! We packed suitcases and got in the car. We pulled out of our driveway and in that week’s time, we covered ground through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. “Was this a vacation?,” we asked our parents. “Think of it as a road trip,” Dad said.

(What I later learned is that we were scouting out ranch sites for sale. Dad and his father, for whom he worked, weren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye at the time, and Dad was considering buying his own spread. New factors came into play later and we didn’t move, but that’s a story for another day.)

Meanwhile, I was euphoric. That road trip ignited something in me that I had known was there but couldn’t define for lack of experience: the need to see new vistas and ways of thinking and living.

Where I come from, pretty much everyone has a hand in agriculture of some sort. Oh, they might raise sheep instead of Hereford/Angus cattle like we do (my sister now runs our ranch), or perhaps they farm soy beans or sugar beets. If they are bankers or lawyers or accountants, their clientele is largely people like my family.

But out on that road trip, we saw cities and towns of different sizes, and people making their living in completely different ways. We ate at linen-set tables, although local coffee shops and diners were – and still are – my favorites. We stayed at fancy inns and small roadside motels. We got to swim in outdoor pools and get ice from a large dispenser for our vending machine Cokes.

And the grandest thing of all – and the reason I’m sharing this 42-year-old memory – was the way I felt that week. That road trip rhythm – getting up and heading out with no real objective but to see new country – bored its way into my heart. And it’s been there ever since.

In truth, I can say I’ve experienced the most wonderful – and in some cases, most terrible – moments of my life on the road. My daughter, Stacy, and I built a foundation of good road-trip memories – and even our own lexicon (Hogs are Beautiful! and washer fluid) that kept us closely connected, even through her adolescent years. To this day, it’s still our favorite way to spend time together.

One husband declared his desire for divorce while we were motorcycling through Idaho, and if it’s still standing, a motel in Sun Valley probably still wears the scars of a battle I’m not proud of.

Conversely, I made the best decision of my life – to marry Scott – 12 years later on a black-ribbon highway while counting antelope in the wilds of Wyoming.

And all the while, I have yearned to hit the road in a big way. Which leads me back to the Airstream ….

(To be continued)

6 Comments

  1. Sandie
    Jul 19, 2012

    My memories of our family road trips don’t quite inspire me the way yours did you, but I do love to ride along in spirit. So I have my snacks packed, seat belt on, and am looking forward to an amazing ride(along). Hope you’ll share some pictures along the way!

  2. Tammy
    Jul 20, 2012

    Wonderful Janie! Congratulations to you and I look forward to watching your adventures. How do I subscribe to this blog?

  3. Colleen
    Jul 21, 2012

    I love a good road trip – short or long. I’ll vicariously enjoy the ride with you until I can hit the road for my own adventure.

  4. Janie
    Jul 21, 2012

    Tammy – so glad to see you here! I have added an RSS option. As I’m definitely in WordPress learning mode, please let me know if you experience any problems.

  5. Janie
    Jul 22, 2012

    Colleen – I have no doubt you’ll have more than your share of road trip adventures! Remember Cimarron – snort!

  6. Colleen
    Jul 23, 2012

    Fear not, I will never forget Cimarron!

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