Monday, February 1, 2010

The Trip & A Song

Back in 1998 Chuck and I had the occasion to drive cross country from Washington to Massachusetts. It wasn’t a vacation. It was a trip. I don’t mean a hippy-dippy trip. I mean it was basically a means to an end. Chuck’s parents had generously offered us their car; ours being on its last leg - er- wheel. All we needed to do was to fly out to Seattle and drive it back home. I won’t say we were poor, but money was very tight and we were frugal. So even though Chuck had only a limited amount of vacation time available, we went for a quick visit with the family and then loaded up the new-to-us car and headed back home.

Most days we just got up and drove, from early morning to sometimes late into the evening. We made brief stops for fuel - both for the automobile and the humans. We had no reservations, so each afternoon we would begin looking in the AAA guide books for a place to stay, somewhere up the road. It was a long trip - according to Google Maps some 3,316 miles (5,336 kilometers). We did squeeze in three fun things: Yellowstone National Park (which is mostly in Wyoming), Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and Lehman’s Hardware Store in Kidron, Ohio. All of which were done at something just shy of a dead run; all the while we kept promising ourselves we would come back, some day. Most importantly, while we were in Ohio, we visited with Chuck’s beloved Aunt Frieda. She was seriously ill and passed just one month later.

Cell phones existed back then. We actually owned an enormous “bag phone”. But because of roaming charges we didn’t even consider bringing it with us. What we did do was to set the alarm on my wristwatch to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Every day that we were on the road, the alarm would go off and we would look for a phone booth. Then I would call home to my Mom in Rhode Island to let her know where we were and that we were fine.

The radio was our constant companion. NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered bookended our daylight hours. Delilah filled our evening hours. And whoever wasn’t driving was in charge of tuning something enjoyable in on the radio as the miles clicked by on the odometer. Often, what we found clear as a bell was country music - classic, contemporary and a blend of country/rock/pop. We heard one song over and over again. It was “26 Cents” by The Wilkinsons (Music plays!), a Canadian family trio of a sister, a brother and their dad. It told the story of young woman on her own, who treasured a letter from her Mom with 26 cents taped to it. The song went:

“...When you get lonely, call me
Anytime at all and I'll be there with you, always
Anywhere at all...
...Here's a penny for your thoughts
A quarter for the call
And all of your Momma's love...”

It just fit, you know?


dancingmorganmouse said...

What a trip that must have been. We've done longish trips with no radio or tape deck in the past, we always end up singing Frank Sinatra standards :)

Roo said...

What a sweet thing.

We once did LA to Mammoth and got 6 hours of country or bible.. I had to chew the dashboard to stop me from killing myself. (ok and it was only 6 hours)

Have you ever tried to recreate it?

Roo said...

oh and I like Morgan's idea of Sinatra classics

Pink Granite said...

Hi DMM -
I have always loved Frank Sinatra!
On one trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, when the radio was on the fritz, Chuck and I tried to remember and sing one song for each of the 50 states. We did remarkably well!

Hi Roo -
Oh my, there was plenty of thumper radio as we drove cross country! That's why the passenger's job of being in charge of the radio was darn near as important as their navigating!

We've always wanted to do what we call "The Big Trip". Who knows, we still might do that...
- Lee