When I was four years old we took a cross country road trip from New York to California. My memory of the sequence of events is spotty and I only remember specific incidents from the trip.
1) The ride
No, no, it wasn't this. We had a 1978 Dodge Diplomat. It looked a lot like this one, except ours was blue on blue. The vehicle's appearance supports my theory that the 1970's were the start of the dark age of car design. The Diplomat (who names a car "Diplomat?" Was there an "Ambassador" too?) was known as the "new" car. Our other car was a 1968 Dodge Dart. Take a guess what we called that one. That's right, the "old" car.
We stayed in Holiday Inns. Somehow the four of us shared a room and survived. In fact, the sight of the old Holiday Inn signs used to excite me, proving that at one point in my life I was truly easy to please.
The St. Louis drive by: I remember passing through St. Louis as my dad ordered my sister to take some photos of the arch. I remember wanting to stop and get a closer look, but we passed it and that neat looking thing was gone, only to reappear when the blurry photos were developed.
Cities: We visited San Francisco and L.A. I don’t remember which one came first. Near san Francisco, we stayed with the family of the realtor for our house in New York. This realtor had sons (and a daughter?) and a giant Afghan hound that I could ride like a horse. All of us put on KISS make up one night (I was the cat). The theme song seemed to be “We don’t need no education.” The beach was right down the street from their house. The weird part was that about 10 years later we wound up moving there. We tried to contact that same realtor, but she had moved elsewhere. We used the same agency and made friends with the new realtor.
National Parks: We visited the sequoias and the Grand Canyon. I don't remember much from these, but luckily someone took photos.
Theme Parks and terror: We also went to the happiest place on earth. The happy parts included the Dumbo ride. The not so happy parts involved the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. I don’t know who was responsible for deciding this was appropriate for my four year old eyes, but I do know this ride terrified me. I am pretty sure I screamed the entire time. It traumatized me so much that when it was time to get onto “It’s a Small World” (which involved a similar little boat that carried you through the ride) hysterics ensued. I’m pretty sure I was coerced onto the boat and I remember calming down when it turned out to be harmless.
We also went to Universal Studios, which involved the train trip over the collapsing bridge. No one told me it wasn’t real. To this day, in my head it really happened. I’m surprised my poor young heart didn’t quit on me.
No place like home (and mustaches):
The final straw was the trip home. In one of the hotels where we stopped, my dad got the idea to shave his mustache. Keep in mind that I had never seen him without it. Yup, more hysterics. I was screaming as if a strange man had invaded our hotel room, and in a way, that was what my head was telling me.
Some people might think this kind of road trip is a true adventure (*cough* my husband *cough*) but I’m not inclined to agree. Maybe it was from hours in the back seat of the car sucking on bottles of bug juice, playing tic tac toe and counting cars of a certain color, but as an adult, I find myself extremely averse to long trips in the car.