Road Trip USA

Hitting the highway, or road tripping, is a great American pastime. As a child of the 1950s and 1960s, I was raised on the road, so to speak. Especially on the original and now famous US Route 66. Since my folks lived in St. Louis, Missouri, we never drove the Chicago to St. Louis section. But, from St. Louis westward, numerous times we put the rubber to the road!

By the time I was five (circa 1959), our family had driven the St. Louis to Santa Rosa, New Mexico, several times. During that time and afterwards, we also drove it to the end of the line, in Santa Monica, Calif. Back in those days Route 66 was not a four-lane super highway, but rather a two-lane, meandering road with numerous stops along the way. I remember it always being a long, arduous trip, as my folks’ car had no air conditioning. Several times we drove long sections at night to avoid the heat. But I have plenty of daytime memories of those road trips and stopping for water (for the car radiator) and gas before crossing long stretches of desert. Places like Barstow, Needles, Flagstaff, Gallup, Tucumcari, and Amarillo standout in my mind’s eye. There were many small-town diners, typical of that era, which have long since faded away. But one still remains out in California and that was Sambo’s. I remember we stopped at these pancake houses numerous times, especially by my teenage years when we lived in California.

But road trips are more than just driving from point A to point B. It’s about meeting people and visiting friends and family along the way, as well. Last month we did a 2100+ mile road trip in nine days. First leg took us to southern Ohio, where we spent time with my son and his family. Playing with grandkids is always great fun! Next we headed north to Toledo and then westward to Chicago, where we soaked up as much urban culture and fine dining as possible. From there it was further north, to Wisconsin, to visit friends at the university and from my Army days. More great food was enjoyed and vistas of beautiful dairy farms and vineyards were viewed, quite unlike what’s in Missouri.

Road tripping may become a seldom-enjoyed pastime, as oil and gas prices continue to soar. I did notice fewer cars on the interstates during our trip, especially those with out-of-state plates. We even had to adjust our trip by renting a small, economy class car, which was a trade-off in comfort for fuel-efficiency. But regardless, being on the road is part of my lifestyle, and something I immensely enjoy and as long as I can find a means and a way, I’ll be road tripping for a long time!

© 2008 Terry Ownby, I spotted this VW bus, along with another in caravan somewhere in Indiana. The VWs were complete with decals, hula girls on the dash, and love beads and peace signs. Talk about a blast from the past!

© 2008 Terry Ownby, As I moved along photographing these two VW buses, I noticed on the second pass that the driver was into this whole gig and was photographing me! What a hoot! Who said road trips couldn’t be fun?!

© 2008 Terry Ownby, Here’s a small montage from our road trip. Friends, family, and city life!

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