Road Tripping

Once upon a time—back when I had enormous octagonal shaped glasses; long, straight, thin hair; and chicken legs (okay, yes, I still have those), in the era when my taste in fashion ran to high waisted jean shorts, cotton tank tops, and Converse cheerleading tennis shoes—my parents loaded me and my three brothers into our red Chevrolet Astro van and drove us from Kentucky to California and back. Our family of six may not have traveled internationally when I was growing up, but travel we did. My sense of adventure is not anomalous; it came honestly.

On the way to California, my dad (and occasionally my mom) piloted us along a northern route. On the way back, we opted for a southern route. We stopped at national parks—Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest. We stopped at tourist traps like Wall Drugs. We bought tacky souvenirs at Stuckey’s, the gas station/convenience store/junk shop located all along the interstate. We had caricatures done in San Francisco, hung out with Mickey at Disney, met Jaws at Universal, and stuck our toes (and only our toes) into the Pacific Ocean. We saw Vegas before it went upscale. We visited family in Los Angeles as well as middle-of-nowhere Arkansas. We turned the van seats so that they faced each other, giving us no leg room but lots of space to play games. And for the most part, we all got along, the only difficulty we all still remember being our youngest brother Mark’s propensity for backwashing into our shared sodas (a ploy, we now believe, to get his own).

On Saturday, I, along with my two younger brothers, Gregory and Mark, and Jeff, set out on a partial recreation of this trip. We’re all meeting in Chicago, where Gregory lives, and from there, we’re traveling to Yellowstone and back, taking the northern route there and the southern route back. In addition to spending four days in Yellowstone, we’ll also be stopping at the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore, sleeping over in Grand Teton, checking out Denver, and stopping at any and all exciting roadside attractions we find along the way. We’ll be camping most of the time, so Internet access is probably going to be limited, but if it’s available, we’ll be updating (both here and on my brother Gregory’s blog) and on our Facebook pages. If we can’t get online, we’ll come back with lots of stories to tell. (Promise, swear, cross my heart, time sucking Kentucky book be damned).

To keep you satisfied until I make it back online, check out the photos below. Good for a daily laugh. Or five million.

What’s Obama Got To Do With It

Have we mentioned before how interesting it was to be abroad when Obama was elected President of the U.S. and to continue traveling through much of his first year in his office?  Have you heard our stories about the Obama grocery stores, the Obama kangas, and the baby gorilla named Obama? Have you wondered at all what it was like to be an American abroad in the midst of Obama-mania?

An article I wrote about the “Obama effect” on travel has just been published in the May edition of Perceptive Travel. Please go check it out and let me know what you think. And while you’re there, take a look at the other articles in this month’s edition as well as previous editions. If, like me, you’ve grown tired of travel magazines and websites that are nothing more than Top 10 lists and service articles, you’ll want to bookmark Perceptive Travel as it features the kind of stories that just don’t make it to print anymore in our short-attention-span society.

P.S. Thanks to my sister-in-law Paulina, who spent last summer in Uganda and helped me out with photos for the article.