Weekend assignment #203 (7) – Road trip!

Weekend Assignment #203: If you had the time, money, housesittter, etc. to pack up right now and drive somewhere out of town for a few days, where would you go, if anywhere? Here’s $500 and a prepaid car rental. Note I said driving, so wherever you pick should be in driving distance.

Extra Credit: last time you got out of town for non-business reasons, what was your mode of transportation?

It’s true that I enjoy road trips. I’m not the most adventurous person you’ll ever meet, but jumping in the car and heading off somewhere really appeals to me. I like choosing a destination and planning the route; I like deciding what to bring and packing, if the trip will last more than a day; I especially like seeing what there is to see along the way, and stopping on a whim to take pictures or explore what I find. There’s also an All-American mythology element to the whole “road trip” idea that attracts me – the lure of the open road and all that. I spend most of my time driving around metro Los Angeles, and “open” is one of the last descriptions applicable to the roads around here, unless it’s around 2 AM.

I’m very lucky to be married to someone who likes road trips too – he even likes hitting the road with no particular destination in mind, and just seeing where we end up. He also really enjoys the driving itself, if it’s a car that’s fun to drive – which means, most likely, not his own Honda Civic. That reminds me – if we’re getting a prepaid rental car for this trip, I expect that he’ll be asking for a Dodge Charger.

We’re actually in the midst of planning a week-long road trip for mid-June, just after school gets out. It’ll be a multi-generational vacation – the kids, my husband and me, and my mother-in-law. We’ll be heading out to Jellystone Yellowstone National Park – we’ll be staying there for three days, and taking three days to get there. We’re planning stopovers along the way in Cedar City, Utah and Montpelier, Idaho, and we booked our lodgings at Yellowstone last summer. We’re not sure of the return route yet, but we’re leaning toward a stop in Flagstaff, Arizona – I’ve been there once before, as a stopover during the road trip that represented my move from Memphis to SoCal, and I’ve been wanting to go back – with maybe a side trip to look at that big hole in the ground, although we’re thinking of doing that portion by train.

But this specific assignment specifies a short time duration and choosing a destination “within driving distance,” which I would suggest is actually a subjective determination. For one person a “reasonable” driving distance for one day might be 500 miles, for another it might be just 100. Considering that, I almost wish I were still living in New England, where a day’s drive might take you through at least three different states without even pushing it very much. But my home is the West Coast now, and that means the destination for my road trip will most likely take me to one of my most beloved California spots – Carmel and Monterey (yeah, I know, technically that’s two, but in many ways it really isn’t). I’d like to make most of the drive along the coastal route, which means I probably won’t get there very quickly, but I’ll be able to make minor detours along the way to places like Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, and San Luis Obispo. I’d also like to bring Gypsy along for the ride; according to The Dog Lover’s Companion to California, Carmel may be one of the most dog-friendly places in the state. Unfortunately, if she does come, I might not be able to make that side trip to the Gilroy Outlets, and I was planning to bring some extra cash over the $500 trip allowance for that. Then again, maybe it’s not so unfortunate if I don’t get a shopping trip as part of this vacation after all… I’m sure I’ll enjoy it just as much even without that. There will be so many things to see and do and explore anyway.

Ah, the romance of the road. Do you feel it too, or do you think getting there isn’t really all that much of the fun, and you’d rather just get on a plane?

Write up the answer in your blog or journal, and leave a link in the comments to this entry. The Weekend Assignment is posted each Friday at Outpost Mâvarin; a roundup of responses goes up the following Thursday, so if you’d like to join in, you’ve still got some time!

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  1. I love road trips too. Road trips and camping were the usual vacation fare in my family growing up. I don’t think my husband ever believed just how fun a roadtrip could be until I dragged him all over the Southwestern US. We had a blast (even with the little stopover at the emergency room in New Mexico–there always has to be something).

    I think your summer plans sound terrific, Florinda. I hope you have a great time.

  2. Literary Feline – I’m not so big on the camping thing, Wendy, but I do enjoy the road part. My ex-husband didn’t much care for driving, so it’s nice that Tall Paul feels differently about it.

    Sounds like there’s a story in that emergency-room reference… 🙂

  3. Camping wasn’t so much my thing either, I’m afraid. I think my dad is disappointed that neither my brother nor I inherited his love for camping. Road trips, are a completely different story, however. 🙂

  4. This is a highly evocative, inspirational entry. I don’t think I made it quite as far as Carmel on my only trip north from L.A. thirty years ago; I’d have to check a map, butr we turned around at Santa Barbara. I remember loving the Pacific Coast Highway, and wanting very badly to build a castle on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Favorite sight on that trip, a fjord-like lake at Ojai. Thanks for the memory!

  5. Karen – This was a really fun assignment to write. I actually haven’t driven the stretch beyond Santa Barbara myself – yet, but writing about it really makes me want to go!

  6. Oh, you have to drive above Santa Barbara. That’s one of the most dramatic drives — Morro Bay and San Simeon, Big Sur, and then take the 17-mile drive…
    As for your plans for the summer, I’ll be waiting at Union Station for you to pick me up to go with you. It sounds marvelous. You absolutely, positively, need to take the Grand Canyon Railway. They use the steam engine in the summer. When you go, take a neck cooling bandanas with you — the train cars don’t have air conditioning.

  7. Kiva – I’ve actually done the Big Sur/17-Mile Drive route, but coming down from San Francisco rather than up from the L.A. area.

    Thanks for the heads-up about the Grand Canyon Railway. My husband’s really interested in doing it, but since his heat tolerance isn’t great it’s good to be warned that there’s no A/C.