Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Are you ready for a road trip?

Road trip! Road trip! 

That was a rallying cry for adventure long before seductive advertising slogans like "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" permeated our culture. Many Baby Boomers will fondly remember "road trip" as the cue for one of the funniest episodes in the 1978 movie "Animal House," but those excursions, by any other name, were a crucial part of the formative years of just about anyone who was a small child in the 1950s or 1960s. 

Our dads were back from World War II or the Korean conflict. The nation agreed (unanimously, it seemed) to spend mega bucks creating an infrastructure of superhighways and cloverleaf interchanges. Detroit was turning out roomy station wagons (precursors of RVs and minivans, for you whippersnappers), luxury family sedans with lots of impressive, futuristic fins and chrome and sports cars so sexy that they are still hot and collectible more than half a century later. 

You could buy three gallons of gas for a buck. 

Dinah Shore sang to us every week, urging us to see the U.S.A. in our Chevrolets. 

What choice did we have? 

America was asking us to call. 

And come summertime (or spring break, or Thanksgiving, Christmas, the turning of autumn leaves or any other excuse we could conjure), we were ready to answer the call. 

Road trips are an American institution, from the first land bridge migrations to tribal hunting groups following the buffalo to westward wagon trains and the first transcontinental railroad excursions. I don't have the statistics, but I suspect contemporary Americans may travel more and greater distances for fun than residents of most civilizations. Road trips may not be specified in the U.S. Constitution, but many of us feel it is clearly implied, under life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

I've seen enough of the world and the nation to welcome the post-Oz period of my life. Dorothy was right. There's no place quite as comfy, friendly, interesting and convenient to me as my home querencia. 

And yet, breathes there a soul so dead that "road trip!" doesn't fire the imagination -- at least a little? 

I think not. 

Every year around this time, I feel an urge to visit souvenir shops and I start to get nostalgic for log cabins, canoes, rivers, lakes or any large bodies of water. It's hard-wired, primordial memory from Midwestern camping trips in my youth. 

I get on the freeway en route to local assignments and spot enticing signs: Albuquerque, Santa Fe, San Diego, San Antonio. Or even Alamogordo, Lordsburg, Silver City and Truth or Consequences. Deadlines are looming and I have miles of copy to write before I sleep. 

But for just one wistful summertime moment, I think, "Why not?" 

It's a good question. 

Why not put pedal to the metal, crank up your fave summertime tunes and hit the road, right now? Decide where to spend the night when you find an interesting side road to explore. Wait till you have a few hundred miles between you and home base and call in to take a personal day or two. 

Being old and responsible, I don't abscond without notice. But in recent years, I have talked my type A soulmate into fitting some unscheduled, impromptu adventures into our vacation each year. 

Sometimes, we've ended up missing stellar attractions because we didn't reserve in advance. 

But mostly, we've made some amazing discoveries. An island in the middle of a pond at a monastery retreat. Riverfront statues hidden among glowing aspen groves. Beautiful little mountain villages and farm stand picnics. 

Summer's not quite over. There's still time for an adventure of your own. 

Road trip! Road trip!S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.

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