Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Sharing Our Stories and Slice of Life: A Seventeen Day Road Trip!

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!


  1. What a beautiful memory! I enjoyed reading your story which reminded me of a long ago vacation where we, too, traveled very similarly-a well planned out trip as we camped our way across the west...without cell phones and just Rand McNally to guide us along. Thank you for inspiring my own trip down memory lane.

  2. This sounds like an amazing trip! You're right...you sure took that journey JUST in time. I remember those days, before laptops and cell phones, before GPS and the like. We had to rely on a whole different set of skills, didn't we? Your post reminds me of a trip I took with some college buddies. We lasted for about half our meals on a bag of bagels, and a hot pot that we cooked ramen in!

  3. Ah Ramona, you describe this trip with such perfect and intimate details. It was a BIG trip. I too had a favorite vacation in some of these same parks in the west. I love the idea of the manila envelopes with research about each destination. Before the Internet, these would have been priceless resources on a trip like this. Beautiful post!

  4. You write so beautifully about a wonderful trip! I love the food details. This reminds me of the trip out west my family took the summer I graduated high school. It was amazing.

  5. Ramona, it was such a treat to read about your 17-day vacation. I have never been away so long nor have I seen those sights so your slice was a mini-travel journal for me. The little parts about your trip made a lasting impression for you and now for me.