Roam If You Want To

As I alluded to in my previous post, my family + Adam took our separate road trips and met for a week of relaxation on Kiawah Island in South Carolina. I feel it’s my duty as a blogger to share with my faithful readers (all 2 of you) a sort of vacation recap, if you will.

We [meaning Dad, Mom, Sister, and me] hit the road on a Friday, immediately after they got off work and I drove the 30 miles to meet them. During my drive down, I pass a woman broken down on the side of I-40. While I’ve passed broken down travelers before, this incident caused me to pay more attention than I usually would. Why? She was leaned up against her Ford Taurus, wearing thigh-high boots, a black mini skirt, partially unbuttoned white oxford shirt and a semi was backing up to help her out.

I make it to my parents’ laughing, because I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. Once I get there I’m shocked to find my dad holding a flip phone. I’m sure it doesn’t sound that shocking, as we are in 2010 now, but my dad has been using a Nokia brick phone for 10 years and has never had a desire to upgrade. Additionally, my mom and sister have upgraded to smart phones so I can only guess how much “tech support” Adam and I will have to provide on this vacation.

We finally get loaded in the Trailblazer and head for the coast. When we make a stop for dinner at a random combination KFC/Taco Bell drive-thru there’s a live chicken walking and grazing in the flowerbed. I guess we should be comforted by knowing the chicken was fresh? Or maybe it had the sense to jump truck? Either way, it provided unexpected entertainment during our wait.

After spending the night in a hotel somewhere in Mississippi, we drive the last 10 hours to the beach. Along the way Dad informs us that the iPod Shuffle we gave him for Father’s Day is an engineering feat, Mom is asking what apps she should add to her Droid, Maddie takes over driving telling us she doesn’t drive below 80 unless required, and I’m doing needlepoint in the backseat. 14 hours on the road together and no one was left on the side of the road, or killed. So far? So good.

When I wasn’t fielding questions from my dad like, How do I make this damn thing call? or I took a picture but I don’t know how to get to it, I was trying to show Adam as much as I could about one of my favorite places in the world. Literally. Our week was filled with drives along the live oak lined, spanish moss draped highways of South Carolina, where we took pictures of the 1500 year old Angel Oak Tree and the village of Rockville at the dead end of HWY 700 and made an unexpected, yet quintessentially southern, stop at the Charleston Tea Plantation. I shared the historic southern charm of Charleston with Adam by taking a horse drawn carriage tour through town and strolling through the straw market buildings.  My sister and I persuaded Adam to drive us to the Firefly Vodka distillery, where we sampled [and subsequently purchased]  sweet tea and lemonade flavored vodkas. We biked all over the Island on beach cruisers, enjoyed BBQ at Mingo Point and scarfed down a celebratory low-country boil, prepared by Adam, for my mom’s birthday. There was beach time too, which might have included a game of Mölkky [in which yours truly came from behind and beat Adam] and an embarassingly unsuccessful attempt of sandcastle construction.

Our long drive home came all too quickly, but we made the best of it with Cash Cab, Don’t Forget the Lyrics, and Sporcle iPhone apps. Between CDs of Sam Cooke, The Turtles, Joe Cocker and The Beatles, my sister quoted Hamlet, my dad asked us about the Electronic Cowboy in Little Rock, our GPS told us it was recalculating, and we stopped at an interesting gas station in Nashville that had a ladies happy hour.

I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have a family that laughs together, as it makes long road trips more bearable and fly by faster. As for our week spent together on Kiawah Island? It was one of the best vacations I can remember. I’m truly blessed!

Family Road Trips

Kiawah

Every summer, for as long as I can remember, my family would pile up in our gray Chevy Astro Van with GrandMerle and Ottie to begin our 18 hour drive to Kiawah Island, SC. Most drives were straight through the night [Thanks, Dad!] but I never remember them being stressful. Perhaps this was due to my naivety at a young age or perhaps my family really was a perfectly happy traveling family [the latter would be proven incorrect circa 1999], either way my memories are fond of that entire trip.

I remember my family’s stops to Shoney’s, Casey Jones Village, and Cracker Barrel along the way. [Remember that line in Father of the Bride: II, “that’ll be economical: one child, two seniors, thanks”? For us it was 2 children, 2 adults, and 2 seniors. At Shoney’s? That was a STEAL!] I remember being somewhere between Arkansas and Georgia popping an occasional VHS tape into our van’s TV [yeah, we were soo high-tech], eating our weight in Peanut Butter Logs [courtesy of Ottie], playing Skip-Bo, Old Maid, or Go Fish! while driving down the road, or singing along to oldies [since that’s all my dad ever played on the radio]. And who could forget those overnight drives when my sister and I thought it was so cool that our backseat folded into a bed?!

Then came the invention of the Walkman and my purchase of Lisa Loeb’s Tails cassette tape, coupled with my discovery of The Boxcar Children, and my sister’s discovery of the Thoroughbred series and these trips were forever transformed. I’m sure my parents and grandparents were very happy about this newfound distraction on the long drive to SC, because my sister and I both became occupied with our respective traveling libraries.

Nevertheless, all of my memories of family road trips are like this [except for the one involving an RV, but we’ll get there soon enough] and while I’m sure getting there was the biggest relief for the adults on the trip, some of my fondest memories lie in that old gray van. Whether it was sitting behind my dad listening to Lisa Loeb and reading the Boxcar Children or putting my head through the hole of a plywood painting of Casey Jones, it was getting there that was half the fun.