As long as I can remember my family would take road trips. Some would be a short as driving to John F Kennedy Airport from our home on Long Island just to sit on the side of the road by the runway and watch planes land for hours. It was a magical time and our imaginations would run wild planning where we would go.
As I got a little older and my dad a little more successful, he bought his first in a series of motor homes. From then on most weekends were spent heading out to the east end of Long Island, New England or wherever the notion might take us. On vacations we took longer trips learning about America first hand. Back roads were a favorite with surprises at every turn.
As my brother and I became teenagers my mother and father planned the ultimate road trip across the country. They sold the house, all our ‘worldly’ possessions and piled into the considerably much larger motor home than the ‘starter Winnebago’ of years past.
Days turning into weeks and then months passing as we traveled up through New England and Canada, down to the Carolinas, Florida, Louisiana and across Texas. As a teenager my patience began to wear thin and my complaints about wanting a ‘normal’ life was incessant. I eventually wore my parents out and we settled in Texas for a while before moving to our final destination Florida.
My folks never complained, never resented me or blamed me for ending their road trip abruptly. I don’t know that I would have had such grace. Eventually I grew up, married, had a child of my own and finally ‘got’ my parents and what their road trip experience was all about.
I carry these memories with me every place I go. The older I got, the closer my father and I became. It was easier to relate and we had so much more in common, especially our love of the road. When I started traveling with Rick on the MidLife Road Trip my father would call us wherever we were and it was usually as soon as we landed! I would always leave our itinerary with him and he would follow intently and share his knowledge of the area. While his health declined and his body became frail, his spirit and wanderlust never waned. Until his very last moments here on earth surrounded by his family, with laughter and tears we reminisced about some our most memorable family trips. Since my dads passing, my mom now well into her 80’s has dutifully agreed to take the reins, calling in his stead when I travel.
My entire family was over the moon when Rick and I were selected as finalists in the USA Today and Rand McNally Best of the Road Rally.The Best of the Road is more than a Road Trip, for me it’s a legacy. It’s an opportunity for me to complete what my parents started. I look forward to my mom’s calls, wherever we are and knowing that my dad will be along for the ride if only in spirit.