When I was a kid, road trips were a regular event. We used to load up into our huge van and just go. My dad, being a former truck driver, knew how to navigate the roads without a map and this always impressed me. I remember him teaching me how to identify landmarks and the direction of the highway to navigate which direction was which. Most of these road trips were to arrive at the latest Whiplash Off-Road Racing event. Some of the greatest memories of my childhood come from these races. My dad’s friends raced in these events, and the rest of us served as a key part of the pit crew. My name was GG, Gatorade and goggles. My job was to give the racers Gatorade and clean off their goggles. I was great at it and took pride in my work.
I remember the trip that took me to California for the first time. Dad surprised my brother and I one morning that we were going to go to Disneyland! I was beyond ecstatic! I had never been out of the state before, and now my first trip would be to the most magical place on Earth. Funny thing is that I don’t remember much from Disneyland, but I remember a lot from the road trip. My dad telling stories he had from his trucker days about things he had seen on the highways. Dining at local places and truck stops. Us singing together in the car. My brother and I smacking each other as we identified out-of-state license plates and “slug bugs.” The random dinosaur sculptures that popped up along Interstate 10. So many interesting things can be seen as you gaze out the windows of an adventure on the road.
As I reminisce about the sights I was privileged to see as I kid, I am sitting in a local cafe located on one of my favorite places on Earth, Coronado Island. That’s right I am on my own road trip. Although I don’t have my brother to slug when I see a Volkswagon or my dad to tell me about his own adventures on Interstate 8, I am creating my own memories as well as reliving some from childhood. Prior to leaving I was excited, but also a bit anxiety ridden because I hadn’t made a plan. This was part of the experience I wanted to have. I am always the person who has to have a plan set in stone, and if things stray from the plan I start to panic or feel like the trip is ruined. This time though I was just going to live. See where the road takes me. As I thought, as soon as I hit the road and realized I was truly free from an agenda that could potentially let me down. I started to feel a rush. As I drove down the open road listening to my favorite tunes, I felt invincible.
I entered Gila Bend, feeling like the strongest woman in a car. Then a layer of joy was added as I passed one of my childhood memories. The Space Age Restaurant. We were on our way to a race in Gila Bend, and my dad knew this place had the best burgers in the area, and boy was he right. In addition to the food being delicious, there were aliens in the lobby and spaceships in the sky, and my brother and I loved it. I knew I was going to drive by it on my current trip, but the level of my excitement when I saw it was not expected.
As I continued to drive, I took a road I was never able to travel with my dad towards San Diego. For those of you that I do not know that are reading this, I lost my dad when I was 15-years-old. As I drove, I took in the sights and knew that at some point he had seen them. Somewhere in my heart I could feel him telling me which ones he thought were incredible, both of us taking the same mental image of them and feeling moved by them. One of those amazing sites is the Imperial Dunes as you cross into California from Arizona. I remember the first time I saw them I felt like I was in the sand dunes level of Star Wars for Super Nintendo. They are truly out of this world.
I then arrived in San Diego. I could feel the moisture in the air. I could also see my hair start to frizz up before my eyes. I survived the highways of California which you should really get a trophy for. I did use my GPS because I am not as cool as my dad when it comes to knowing where I am going. I knew my license plate was not like the others. I wondered if there was a local rolling their eyes saying “another one of them trying to escape the heat” much like I do back home when the snowbirds come to town. At that moment, although I was using GPS to navigate, I did have something that was total at my dad’s level. The ability to adapt my driving. I have been driving since I was 6-years-old. Daughter of a truck driver means you are definitely going to be driving sooner rather than later. I learned all the tricks as I drove around our family friend’s farm with my dad in the passenger seat guiding me. Living in Arizona with so many drivers from other places, you get used to adapting your driving because if you don’t you will be a part of the many accidents we have every year.
My love of the road is one of my first loves, and will be one I die with still in my heart. Now time to pack up my laptop and hit the road once again.