On the Road Again

Mr. and Mrs. American Grandpa took a long-overdue road trip this summer.  We road-tripped a lot when our kids were at home. It was stressful, but really a lot of fun. Now that we’re retired, it’s nice to be on the road again (cue Willie Nelson).

The Unfriendly Skies

Debra loves to fly, but I hate it.  Really, I only hate four things about it – TSA screening, taking off, being in the air, and landing. Oh, and the cost. Oh, and retrieving my luggage. Oh, and the pesky fees. Oh, and the cramped seating. Oh, and having to be at the airport hours before my flight only to be delayed on the tarmac.

So, unless I am traveling to, like, Tristan Da Cunha, I prefer to drive. Not only is it my preferred form of travel, but I realized, this summer, just how nice road-tripping has become.

Ditching the People Mover

Traveling with our six kids required a Mormon Assault Vehicle (MAV). It amazed me how children who shared bedrooms, bathrooms and a crowded dinner table, were in horror of coming into contact with each other on road trips.

Our last MAV was a 12-passenger Ford van – the Bathmobile 3.  That sucker held the parental units, six healthy kids, all of our luggage and even had room for the dog. The kids all had at least a half-seat to themselves. All that room and a rotation system kept them pretty happy most of the time.

Now, we drive much smaller cars and there’s lots of room.

Nice Ride

Grandpa has always driven “paid-off” vehicles. So, in the past, our trips were sometimes sidetracked or delayed because of car trouble. I still drive beaters, but now I rent cars for road trips. It’s really nice to drive a reliable new car down the highway. If there is trouble, the rental company just brings me a new car.

And gas milage? Back in the day, I’d expect 8-13 highway mpg from the MAV and 18-24 from a compact?

We planned this 2500-mile trip in January, so when gas prices shot up, I thought our budget would hemorrhage. Serendipitously, we averaged between 36 to 40 mpg in a small SUV and spent less than $300 for gas.

A Light on for Us

Debra and I have fallen in love with the bed and breakfast thing. I didn’t think I was going to feel comfortable sharing a room in a stranger’s house, but both the B and Bs we stayed in offered us lots of privacy.

Each B and B experience is unique, like the Columbine School B and B in Delta, Colorado. We had the entire top floor of an old converted elementary school situated on a farm. I expected a rooster as an alarm clock, but instead got braying donkeys at dawn – so cool!

Showing Us the Way

We have probably worn out a dozen travel atlases over the years of road trips (and we still carry one) but we’ve also learned to love GPS navigation on our phones. At first, we worried that the government (or even worse, Google) would track our every move and spy on us. When we realized that resistance was futile, we decided to enjoy the benefit.  

It’s really nice (especially in cities) to put in an address and get directions. Besides, if we get bored with traditional road trip games, we can now play, “Frustrate the Navigator!” Debra claims there is never any change in the navigator’s behavior when I make a wrong turn, but I can sense the passive aggression.

So, it you haven’t taken a road trip for a while – feel free to see the USA in your (rented) Chevrolet.

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