The year was 1984 and I was almost six months into my first pregnancy. The trip was punctuated by hot weather, nights at Motel 6, and long days of car travel. So why would I consider it one of my favorite trips?
We made meticulous plans. Our in-advance research yielded a brown manila envelope for each destination. Each night we would pull out the envelope for the next day and decide which of the many possibilities to pursue on the next day.
We ate out of our ice chest and a cardboard box in the back seat. I’m sure we had an occasional restaurant meal, but those meals haven’t lingered. Instead I remember the box of cereal, the loaf of bread, the jar of peanut butter, the carrot sticks (prepped the night before), and fruit purchased from grocery stores or roadside stands along the way. I remember a very delicious cantaloupe ripened to perfection and cut using a knife carefully wrapped in a dishtowel and secured with a rubber band (a travel technique learned from my mama). I remember picnicking in parks in small towns and a hillside picnic in New Mexico where we carefully gathered pine cones that I still decorate with each Christmas (despite the fact that we now live where pine cones are ubiquitous).
I remember one particularly unfavorable restroom stop after Lance had ignored my suggestions for more favorable stops, and I had reached the point of absolutely having to stop “right now.” A pregnant woman’s bladder can be very insistent! By the time we returned home seventeen days after beginning, I knew that we had taken this trip at the perfect time. My pregnant body was finding riding in the car for hours-on-end less than desirable.
I remember the book that I was reading, The Clan of the Cave Bear, enjoyed after I scanned the envelope for information about our next day's destination. I remember enjoying magic mattress massages available for a quarter at some of our Motel 6 lodgings. I remember a leisurely float trip down a river in Idaho. I remember visiting Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, and the crown jewel of the trip for me, Grand Teton National Park. We may have even splurged with an overnight stay at the lodge and enjoyed a meal there.
The best parts of our 1984 road trip?
- It was taken before Lance had a laptop or cellphone to keep him tethered to the office.
- We visited some of the most beautiful and memorable places I’ve ever been.
- It lasted for seventeen days, the longest vacation we’ve ever taken!