Sunday, June 9, 2013

Route 66 baby ~ DYNAMICS OF “LIFE IN THE CAR” (A blog series of our two week adventure!)

We love road trips. 

Our "Constant"
We embrace them, often choosing to drive to our vacation destination over flying.  We traveled often with Abram when he was younger – trips that included car games, laughter and good conversations with a noted absence of DVD players or earplugs.  The time together is the point of the drive.  Besides the destination of where we’re headed, the car time is a little separate vacation within a vacation. 

Route 66 was a stand-out.  This was the first time the drive was the focal point of the trip and for two weeks no less.  The dynamics changed a bit when the car became the only constant on the trip.

Coolest McD's on the trip!
First dynamic? Coffee and Tea.  As much as we wanted to stay true to local diners (more about these in another post) this was one necessity we quickly addressed.   Tea for me was no problem - vacation or not, I carry my own 24/7 because I prefer Bigelow Constant Comment.  So, a little hot water and I’m good to go (add a little Sugar in the Raw, which I also carry, and I’m extra happy).  Steve however was at the mercy of the local diner coffee gods – and they weren’t too kind this trip.  Enter…McDonald’s a couple times a day for a good, consistent cup of brew that Steve enjoys.      

We switched on & off driving and the person riding shotgun this trip definitely carried the title of Car Concierge.  From that seat you ran the inner working of the car and believe me, it’s no fluff job.  It’s total control of all zones in the car other than the driver’s seat.  This includes:
  • Passenger side foot area –Amy’s purse, various tourist publications for the current state, three ring binder with maps, travel journal and garbage collection bag
  • Glove compartment – receipts, snack items, napkins and utensils (getting this all in around that pesky car manual is no easy fete!)
  • Center console – keeper of glasses, sunglasses, iPod, and the occasional stray map or two
  • Dashboard – useful for heating leftovers, warming cookies to that “just out of the oven softness” and of course on this trip, monitoring Wilson (our Ore-Ida smiley French fry – more about HIM in a later post)
  • Back seat - case of water, snacks, picnic/hiking backpack, pillows, and cooler filled with individual packets of peanut butter and jelly, butter and cream cheese from the hotel breakfast bar, leftovers from the previous days lunch or dinner, and the stray candy bar or two.  (Each morning at the hotel we’d fill a couple of gallon Ziploc bags with ice for the cooler.  Worked like a charm!)

More about this meal in another post!
As Car Concierge, you juggle the planning and execution of all beverages, meals and snacks, including dashboard reheats (complete with makeshift foil “oven”), navigational devices, maps, iPod and music stations, glasses and sunglasses,  pictures of passing sights, pillow placements for weary arms and tender elbows  and of course, note taking (I’m a writer – of course there’s always a running travel journal!)

Oldest DQ we could find!
We love to snack and that pastime definitely rose to a whole new level on this trip.  Our McDonald’s stops generally vetted a couple cookies or a pie or two for the glove compartment.  There were stops at Dairy Queen or Sonic, nearly every day.  Not something we do at home, where an ice cream stop is a once a month treat!

Passing thousands of miles through farm and agriculture country each day found each of us casually remarking  “you’ve got cows” and the inevitable “lost your cows” when a grave yard was passed.  We didn’t bother keeping count, it was just enough to know whether you had some or not. A silly road trip game that stuck; even with a couple of 50 year olds.  At times there was a stray horse or two thrown in and one time Steve even got credit for a few Gazelles! 

Gas stops fell into an easy routine of Steve at the pump while I cleaned the window with the squeegee – something I never do at home.  I’m not one to pass up a restroom opportunity, so we generally went into each store and then stocked up on glove compartment and backseat snacks while the opportunity presented itself!  One store had a particularly busy, albeit shady transaction being done in the front row of the parking lot that ended when the plain clothes cop finished his shopping, went over and shooed them off the property. 

The luxury of time, two whole weeks, afforded plenty of long, companionable silences and plenty of great extended conversations. There were no interruptions, no residual irritations about a work issue from earlier in the day, no deadlines of heading out to a meeting or obligation to be somewhere.  I loved that there was a particular stock Steve was watching during the trip and over the course of a few days he taught me about what it means to short a stock, how it works and how it affects the market.   We chatted about family histories, world events, places we’d just visited, Route 66 facts, retiring and writing plots.  Often he had me laughing until I cried.  Some days we made note at the top of the travel journal page of items to look up on the internet that night.   (I’m talking really important stuff like…How long ago did George Carlin die? T. Boone Pickens and his view of windmills and the Ghia automobile.)

When we planned the trip, partially as a 30th wedding anniversary gift to each other, I honestly hadn’t given much thought to all the car time we were going to have.  It certainly took on a life of its own as we got rolling.  Sure, we could have gotten in and just driven.  But we took it to the next level.  It was fun and adventurous.  Hence, neither of us had a moment where we dreaded having to get back in the car again.  Yes, it was our constant – a source of good food, good conversation and good times.  It’s nice to know that after two weeks in the car, I’m ready to hit the road again with this man for the next thirty years and beyond.

Next up... "Oh, The Places We've Seen!"  Join me, won't you?


  1. I just got back from an eight hour car trip. It can be tiring, but Delta Airlines has a monopoly in our city and screws us with high prices and lousy service, so the entire city drives. News broke out that they are dehubbing our city. Good riddance. I HATE Delta.

  2. I'll hope for better airline travel for you Joyce - and a good rest up from your trip. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I have never flown in my life. Every trip that I have ever taken has been by car. It sounds like you had a wonderful time on your road trip. I look forward to the day when my husband, kids, and I can go on a big ole vacation road trip. I have faith that one will happen and it will happen before I keel over. LOL Awesome post!


    1. Thanks for stopping by Kathy! Good to find another car lover. Plan that trip and make it happen - I will look forward to the stories! :)

  4. hi amy.... road trips are great! rudy and i had so much fun when driving him to arkansas a few years back.... like you said, nothing got in the way of our conversations, some that might not have been so extensive otherwise.... i have yet to drive the famous route 66.....

    1. I would imagine your conversations are great. I actually thought of Rudy while we were on our trip. I was thinking of him making the drive home alone to you all when he left his job and what that drive was like for him. I love driving in any form and often make the run to Harrisburg, PA (a five hour one way drive) to see my brother alone. I enjoy the "think" time. You guys should do 66 - you'd love it!