It is said that Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, here in the U.S. Likewise, the beginning of summer always calls forth one of those AAA press releases where the auto club sages offer a forecast of the anticipated traffic volume during the long holiday weekend. This year, there is supposed to be a 7% increase over last year in Americans traveling 50 miles or more for holiday festivities. I guess if you’re one of the people on the receiving end of that travel spree, it might be a good idea to stock up on extra hot dogs and potato salad.
It likely comes as no surprise that summer always puts me in the mind of thinking about road trips. While I’ll go on the record that any time of year is a fine time of year for a road trip, there’s something extra special about setting out in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster for a good old fashioned summer vacation trip.
The summer road trip has been a fixture of my life, although I have to admit that in adult years it’s been harder and harder to achieve. But man did we do it when I was a kid.
I think that a lot of this had to do with my dad’s enthusiasm for loading us up each summer and heading out somewhere. As an immigrant who was enthralled with nearly every aspect of his adopted nation, it was the vastness of the roads and the desire to see everything he could in the country that I think particularly fascinated him. He wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to indulge in a healthy dose of American highway travel; and summer was when it was most convenient to do so.
Although he and my mom seldom hesitated to pull me and my sister out of school (something that seemed much easier to do back in those days than it is now) to go somewhere. But that’s another story.
This is not to say that anyone in my family would actually stop at something like South of the Border. Yeah, I pointed at the billboards and pleaded, but it would be a number of years before I actually got to visit Pedro or to See Rock City. All of which, I am happy to report that I’ve now done.
Childhood travel no-doubt established my life-long habit of seeking out the strange and wonderful somewhere…anywhere…along the road.
Why, just a few weeks ago I was able to preview some strange and wonderful by dragging my family to the World Famous (well….) Jell-O Museum in Le Roy, NY. This involved a 45 minute detour from our scheduled activity in Rochester, NY. But, as they say, there’s always room for the Jell-O Museum.
Plus, I’m sure that my family is now happy that I’ve been able to cross that particular attraction off my road trip list as I’ve been talking incessantly about it for most of the past 4 years. I schedule this stuff out way in advance.
What I didn’t schedule – so call this a Road Trip Lagniappe – was being directed by the nice Jell-O ladies to see Le Roy’s other major tourist attraction, the mighty Marion Steam Shovel. I’m still not sure what makes this giant rusting hunk of metal worthy of being “the only steam shovel on the National Register of Historic Places” – it’s not as if it’s the World’s Largest Shovel of John Prine fame…yes, I’ve seen that too and highly recommend Western Kentucky or anywhere in Kentucky for a road trip – but there you have it. Sometimes when it comes to road trip discoveries it’s best just to marvel and not to ask.
So, where are you headed on the roads this summer? Any special plans? Any bucket list (or in my case, dessert dish) items to cross off? What are your thoughts about Summer Road Trips as we – and apparently another 42.3 million Americans – stare down yet another travel season?