On the Road Again

roadLast Friday’s (hilarious) post about road trips reminded me of some of the ones I have taken in the past. So it’s Off-Topic Friday here at the Posse.

My first road trip was back in 1984 when a friend of mine got me a job at the Olympic Arts Festival in LA, At the time I was living in the East Village in New York and coincidentally my roommate also scored a position from a friend of his. His friend had a car in the city that she wanted to have driven back to LA and the deal was that we would drive it out, paying for gas instead of a plane ticket. That turned out to be a not so great deal, since the car was a big blue Toyota Land Cruiser that got a bout 7 gallons per mile on the highway and since it had all the aerodynamic efficiency of Rockefeller Center couldn’t get past 60. Also, my roommate was a crummy driver.

The next one was when a friend of mine was living in Arizona and wanted to came back to Milwaukee, where I was living at the time. This time the deal was that I would spend a week in Scottsdale at her expense then help her pack up her car and drive back. Since it was December in Wisconsin, I jumped at the chance.

Later, she decided that she wanted to return to ASU after a year at UWM so we reversed the trip, stopping off the see a friend of hers in Boulder who would follow us. Two things that stand out in that one. Stoping for gas in Golden and having the owner of the station take one look at the short Jewish girl and the tall homo in the pricey convertible and just knowing that he would have just loved to shoot us both. The other was driving through New Mexico at night and driving and stopping for a half an hour in the middle of nowhere to put the top down and watch a meteor shower.

When I moved to LA I would drive out to Scottsdale for a weekend and would marvel at the difference between the two states- California is the Golden State for a reason- it’s literally gold colored in the inland parts. Arizona is more russet colored, and the colorado river is the dividing line for that.

I’ve driven with my friend Sue several times to San Francisco, and there’s not much to report about that since the 5 is one of the more colorless freeways in California. But it does point up that a good driving companion is key; Sue and I have the kind of friendship where we can be in companionable silence for long periods of time. On long trips it can be tiring for me to be with someone who needs constant chatter.

I used to take trips up the coast to Santa Barbara, the last time a few years ago in a Chevy Volt I was reviewing for another website. If you are even in SoCal you’ll want to do that- it’s gorgeous and Taqueria Super-Rico is a must eat (Julia Child was a fan). San Diego is also  great drive; The hotel del Coronado is a must see.

The last road trip I took was with our own Portia, with his Jin and friend Kath. They wanted to go to the Citadel and I talked them into the Premium outlets in Camarillo. We went down Sunset all the way to PCH, up PCH to Los Poses Road to the mall. I was thinking “I hope these guys aren’t bored or annoyed by the length of the trip, but they say they loved it and shopped like guerillas.

Road trips are interesting ways to see the country. One of these days I’d like to do it again. Preferably in a convertible and with good hotels. I wouldn’t mind doing the same in Europe.

Oh for PowerBall winnings..

Image: Wikipedia

  • Angela says:

    Damn those yokels in fly over country, so hopelessly backward and ignorant, yet possessed of the magical ability to detect Jewishness and sexual orientation by the way someone pumps gas, and having the unmitigated gaul to cast their lowly gaze upon our superior majesty. God knows my black ass never got the side-eye in all the 48 years I lived in Brooklyn, right?

    Makes me long for the cosmopolitan capitals of Europe, where I’ve been pick-pocketed multiple times, or the streets of Paris, so very elegant with piles of dog crap everywhere, and men relieving themselves in public. And yes… that bastion of civility, San Francisco, where humans crap in the street, the nudists get offended because they have to use a seat cover in restaurants, and my 6 year old daughter learned about oral sex by observing two men indulging each other in a public park, in broad daylight.

  • tammy says:

    I love a good road trip better than just about anything…and one I never tired of was the drive up from LA to Big Sur/Carmel/ Pacific Grove. We used to continue on to San Francisco, but the last time I went, I was spat on and called a breeder by a pack of wild people..ironic, since a) I am childless by choice, and b) I was strolling arm in arm with my cousin, scoping out a place for he and his boyfriend to be married.

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Tammy! I second you, that is a gorgeous drive. BTW, don’t know if you saw it last week or not, but we had Chanel La Romanesque spotlighted for Lipstick Monday.

  • I used to go on road trips every summer with the fam when I was a kid. We lived in Tulsa, OK at the time, and my parents loved Colorado, so we went there most summers. Even the trip where we went to the Grand Canyon we ended up in Colorado for part of it. We were in Telluride before it got all Aspen-ized, and it was the cutest little town. Our trips usually involved national parks in some way or another. With the vacations that we took when I was growing up, I wonder if that’s why I tend to gravitate toward forests, mountains and lakes and not so much to beaches. I think we only went on one beach trip before moving to Texas, and that was to Florida when I was about 14, so it would have been 1994 or so.

  • Dina C. says:

    My road trip stories are centered around my family growing up. We drove from Connecticut to Texas due to an Air Force move when I was really small. My little brother and I in the back or the “way back” of a huge station wagon playing car games like license plate bingo, I Spy and 20 Questions. We’d stay at a Holiday Inn every night and hope that it had a pool. Those hotels all smelled the same from sanitizers, cleansers and room fresheners, and we thought it was a great smell. Ha!

  • Ann says:

    Hi, Tom! What a fun post! You have had some interesting adventures, that’s for sure. I hear you on your gas station memory; way back when, an African-American gal pal of mine and I used to go shopping together, and the times being what they were, boy, did we did get some looks. A few approving glances but mostly unfriendly faces. We just laughed it off, hugged each other and went on our merry way!

  • Portia says:

    Hey Tom,
    We DID love it. Just so you know we still talk about that day and the mall and your encyclopedic knowledge of LA and surrounds with love. The whole adventure is always fun with you. I also loved our road trip to see Roxana Illuminated Perfumes and her dashing husband Greg Spalenka. You may also remember taking me on a days sightseeing tour of the rich and famous in LA and up to the Hollywood Hills.
    Next time I’m in the USA I’ll make sure we do the San Francisco road trip with convertible and nice hotel. You’ll have to get 3 or 4 days off work.
    Portia xx

  • caseymaureen says:

    Hi Tom, back in the dark ages (or late 1980s) I drove with friends from Wisconsin to Seattle. As a visitor from England I remember being knocked backwards by the scale of the prairies, plains, mountains and skies with so little human presence for miles. I also remember listening to the other customers’ conversations in truck stops and feeling like I had been beamed to another planet-don’t think cosmopolitan would have been a complement, similar to your gas station memory I suspect!

    • Maya says:

      I got a chuckle when I read about your surprise at the scale of things. That was what my German mother said she found unbelievable and incredible about the US – so much empty space with no people or houses!

      • Tara C says:

        Having driven multiple times cross country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, I can attest there is a whole lotta nuthin in the middle of the US.

        • Maya says:

          I drove from the Atlantic to the Pacific also and then back again a year later. I agree with “a whole lotta nuthin”, especially in Kansas. Makes you realize why some of the early settlers went insane – alone on the endless Great Plains.

          • tammy says:

            Ah, but one person’s whole lotta nuthin’ is another person’s peace and serenity. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and marveled at how people in urban areas could live packed together like sardines. I managed 25 years in Los Angeles, and never got used to it.