Looking Forward – Looking Back – A 70’s Road Trip Remembered

Today is the day we were supposed to start our Fleaing Across America Road Trip.  Right now, I should be tweeting and sharing pictures of the landscape between home and Las Vegas.  Instead, I’m at home, in terrible pain, waiting to hear back from my dentist’s office,  praying he can put me out of my misery some time soon.

Eventually, we will hit the road and over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the highlights (and possibly the lowlights) of our upcoming adventure but until then, take a trip back with me to a road trip adventure from my childhood.  Let’s reminisce, shall we?

It was 1970.

There were 9 of us.

In one car.

In the summer.

On a road trip to Boston.

I know it’s hard to imagine but there was a time, way back in the day, when children roamed free inside moving vehicles.

It was a time before seat belts, before tinted or electric windows, before air conditioning and before child safety locks on doors.  It was a time before SUV’s, even before minivans.

The station wagon ruled the summer road trips of my youth.  The faux-wood-paneled Ford Country Squire was the vehicle of choice for every free-wheeling road tripping family.

Ford Country Squire

The 70’s Family Dream Car

Because there were no seat belt laws, we could sit where we pleased.  Little ones often sat in mom’s lap, or on the front seat bench between mom and dad.  Older kids could sit in the back seat, or crouch on the floor.

But there were two prime spots that were hands-down my favorite.  One of them was the back-facing bench that folded up in the rear cargo area, where we gleefully waved at drivers behind us, pressed our noses up against the back window and pulled imaginary air horns, in hopes of getting other drivers to honk back in response.

My other favorite spot was in dad’s lap, in the driver’s seat, with my hands planted on the wheel at 10 and 2.  That is where I fell in love with driving and the open road. When I wasn’t in dad’s lap, I would lean over his shoulder from the back seat and watch his every move, mimicking the way he would steer and casually lean his arm on the open window. I couldn’t wait for the day when I would inhabit that coveted seat and drive where ever I pleased (in fact, I didn’t wait, but that’s a story for another day).

Now, I have no idea if it was even legal to sit with dad like that but, knowing him, it’s highly likely that it wasn’t.  After all, this is the same man that staunchly defended his right to not wear a seatbelt and for years, disabled any dinging, chiming, device that dared remind him to “buckle up”!  I can still picture him, on his hands and knees, leaning inside the front driver’s door of a brand new car, grabbing at various wires and cables, yanking them out until that infernal chime was silenced.

I inherited my love of driving from my dad.  Because of his passion for the open road, our go-to activity on his days off, or on any holiday, was to pile into the car and head out on the highway.

Which brings us back to the fateful Boston road trip.

We lived in Toronto, Canada and my dad’s brother Ray lived in Boston with his wife Audrey and their large brood of kids.

My Uncle Elmer and Aunt Beulah lived in Toronto as well and it was decided that we would travel with them and their two boys, to Boston, for a visit.  So, my mom and dad, my sister Kathy and brother Karl, plus Elmer, Beulah and our cousins, Gary and David, piled into the station wagon for the long ride.  Sandwiches and snacks were packed for the journey ahead.

We left in the evening and the plan was for the dads to take turns driving the through the night so we would arrive in Boston by morning, minimizing bathroom breaks and meal stops. The open rear cargo area was where four of us, the youngest in the bunch, lay like cord wood, on a pallet of blankets, pillows and luggage, for the long trip ahead.

It happened without warning.  Somewhere between Toronto and Boston, in the dead of night, my cousin David bolted awake and barfed…everywhere.

That’s right.  We were rudely awakened by the unmistakable sounds, smells and… sensations of puke.

We quickly pulled over to the side of the road, and the four of us kids spilled out of the back tailgate – crying, screaming and gagging.  We stood, bleary-eyed in our pajamas wondering if we were caught in the middle of some sick, smelly nightmare.

My Uncle Elmer, blustering and annoyed, came barreling and hollering out of the car to assess the damage and give David a piece of his mind.  He didn’t make it within three feet of us before he proceeded to lose his lunch in the gravel on the side of the road. Around the same time, my mom came around the corner, looked at the group of us, then over at Elmer, and joined him in a little barf-fest.

In case you’re not counting, that’s three down and four to go.

Fortunately, calmer minds and less queasy stomachs prevailed.  Dad and Aunt Beulah managed to hold it together and helped clean up the nasty mess.  I’m not sure how much they were really able to clean up, standing by the side of the highway, in the middle of the night, with no fresh water, Purell or disposable wipes within sight.  Somehow, they managed to wipe up the mess as well as they could and we piled back in the station wagon with the acrid odor clinging to our nostrils.

The windows were cranked allll the way down and Karl, Kathy and I huddled as far away from David as was humanly possible, in our cramped quarters.

The rest of our little holiday was relatively uneventful and most of our time away is lost in my memory. But three other things stood out in my mind, besides the disgusting barf-fest on the side of the turnpike.

When we drove into Boston, we couldn’t find my uncle’s house.  Without cell phones or GPS (hard to imagine, I know), we needed to find a phone to get directions.  We pulled over to phone booth after phone booth and discovered the phone books had been ripped out of the wall and in half of those phone booths, the receiver had been yanked out as well.  I have no idea why we didn’t have my uncle’s phone number written down somewhere but apparently, a phone number and address were not on the list of ‘things to bring on a road trip’. While driving through the gritty Boston streets, it slowly dawned on me, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!”.

The second thing that stood out in my mind was when Aunt Audrey announced, at eleven o-clock at night, that she was going to the store to get groceries. I was incredulous. “What kind of crazy, American invention is this?  A grocery store that’s open 24 hours a day?  You mean, you can buy Cap’n Crunch at two o’clock in the morning, if you want?”
Mind.  Blown.

The last thing I remember is, that weekend I smelled weed for the very first time.  We were sitting in the living room of my uncle’s house when I sniffed a peculiar, sweet odor.  I asked my cousin what the smell was.  He laughed and told me his long-haired brother was smoking pot outside.  My naive, blond pony-tailed 8-year-old self was shocked and a bit thrilled to be related to real, live hippies. I’m not sure if that was before, or after, they mentioned that the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang had just rolled into the neighborhood.

We had a nice visit and it was good to spend time with family that we didn’t get to see very often, but I was left with a very distinct overall impression from that road trip. It is an impression that has stayed with me for years.

Boston was bad-ass and we were not.

70s family photo

70s photo, family picture, vintage photograph

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Fleaing Across America – Top Ten Road Trip Essentials

It’s almost here!  The road trip we have been talking about, planning for and dreaming of for months.

Honestly, I’m still pinching myself that we are really going. This trip is a thrift-a-holic, vintage hoarders dream come true.  We will be traveling through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona, visiting friends and family along the way and filling our car to capacity with vintage clothes and other can’t-leave-it behind treasures! 

Steve and I have been married for 33 years.  We have done a lot of traveling, with and without kids (mainly with). But the last time we took a real bona-fide road trip together, without children, for more than a day or two was the year after we were married.

U Haul, Road Trip, vintage Cadillac

There we are – young and innocent and oh, so clueless!

It was spring of 1982.  We traveled from Clearwater, Florida to Orange County, California in an old U-Haul truck.  The heat was brutal, the truck was NOT air conditioned, the seats were vinyl and nothing about that truck was automatic – simply put, it was a beast of a thing to drive. 

Things started off well enough, in spite of the stifling heat, but somewhere in the middle of Texas (I swear we drove through Texas for a week!), Steve got heat stroke and I ended up driving that hulk of a truck in the 100+ degrees heat through the rest of Texas, New Mexico and into Arizona. 

Well, we survived the trip and, an even greater miracle, we survived 33 years of marriage, which is WAY harder than any road trip from hell!

This time, we’re leaving the U-Haul behind, we’ve checked and double-checked the A/C and we’re tempting fate and the strength of our marriage by heading off on a three-week adventure. 

Want to follow along on our sure-to-be-hilarious, possibly drama-filled road trip through the Southwest? Head over to our Instagram and Twitter feeds and follow us there.  We will be tweeting and sharing photos, travel tips, mishaps and of course, all the amazing vintage finds that I can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on!

Also, there just may be (hint, hint) a contest or two where you will have a chance to win some amazing vintage treasures from our trip.  Just sayin’.

As we pack for our adventure, I put together my Top 10 Must-Have Road Trip Essentials.

1. My pillow from home.

For real – the older I get, the more desperately I need my own pillow.  Don’t judge.

2. Snacks.

We always pack healthy go-to snacks like nuts and fruit plus a little somethin’ somethin’ that’s not-so-healthy.  In such close quarters, you need to make sure nobody gets hangry!

3. Earphones. A pair for you and a pair for me!

There are so many reasons that earphones are a must.  In fact, I believe that they are one of the essentials for a healthy marriage. Period.

Different musical tastes – check! 

Need some ‘alone time’ – check! 

Husband Spouse snores – check!

4. Music playlists and podcasts or audiobooks – variety is key.

I definitely hear some classic rock, a little bit of Aretha and some Justin Timberlake happening, with a smidge of classical music for those moments on the road when the atmosphere gets intense. 

Lately I have become obsessed with podcasts.  I listen to them on my way to and from work.  My favorites right now are After the Jump with Grace Bonney, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and This American Life.  Also, the Bible Gateway app is great for daily devotions.

5. Travel coffee mugs and water bottles.

Pet peeve – a car filled with trash and empty water bottles.  Plus, it’s the least we can do for the environment, considering all the fossil fuel we will be burning.

6. Paper road map.

We popped by our local AAA Travel Store and picked up some old-fashioned paper maps. 

Vuarnet sunglasses, AAA maps, floppy beach hat

Remember these, kids?  Kind of nostalgic and also, great for those spots when local mobile phone service may be less than stellar.

7. Sunglasses, reading glasses and spares of both. Because, duh.

8. Travel apps and websites.

I seriously can’t live without Yelp.  Okay, that may be a bit dramatic but I do rely on Yelp to help me find local eats, great thrift store shopping and a decent cup of coffee. 

Steve had the forethought to download a weather alert app.  Since we’re driving through Tornado Alley, we thought it would be nice to have a warning before we drive right into the eye of an F-4 tornado. 

My go-to website for finding local estate sales is www.estatesales.net.  And, of course, we can’t forget Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  After all, we’re not barbarians!

9. A sense of adventure.

You have to check out the website www.roadsideamerica – dedicated to the weird, wonderful and bizarre roadside attractions across the United States. A road trip is not complete if you never stop to see a giant ball of twine, an underground salt museum or the grave of Billy the Kid.  God bless ‘merica!

10. A sense of humor. Please see above.

A sense of humor is your best friend when you run out of gas, get lost, become annoyed at your travel partner’s music selection, can’t find a cup of coffee to save your life or just get tired of the endless miles.

Be sure to join us on our adventure and let us know, what are your travel essentials?  

Oh, yeah. One more thing.  Baggy pants.  Gotta wear some comfy, baggy pants.

Mother’s Day Wish List

It’s that time of year again people…Mother’s Day! And whether you are going crazy trying to find the perfect gift for your Mama or you are a Mama yourself and you need to drop some not so subtle hints to your loved ones to tell them exactly what you want (sometimes the thought does NOT count and you need a really good gift) I have searched through the bowels of the internet and brought you this MUST HAVE Mother’s Day wish list.  These things are the perfect way to say thanks Mom for putting up with my crap (literally and figuratively) for all these years! Just to clarify, my birthday is the day after Mother’s Day this year so I am expecting at least two or three of these items!

Tom Ford, Neroli Portofino, women's fragrance, perfume bottle

The BEST fragrance

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Body Oil $70.00

I was walking through Sephora a while ago and came across this new fragrance I’m pretty picky when it comes to scents but this one by Tom Ford is A-MA-ZING. It’s a light, summery scent that just smells like how I imagine rich people who live on the Mediterranean smell. The description says it has hints of “Tunisian Neroli, Italian Bergamot and Sicilian Lemon” It’s very expensive but this  body oil is more in my price range and I promise you it is worth it.

 

 Turquoise Necklace, Turquoise Jewelry, Bead Necklace

Statement Turquoise Necklace

Vintage Turquoise Statement Necklance Etsy-Fcollective $52.00

Since my Mom and I have an Etsy shop, I love to support other Etsy sellers and this shop f collective is one of our favorites! They sell a mix of vintage and handmade items and I just love their aesthetic and point of view. This necklace would be the perfect addition to my collection!

 

 

 

Vintage Red kettle

Vintage Red Kettle

Vintage Red Enamel kettle with wood handle Etsy-Microscope Telescope $40.00

For as much coffee and tea that I drink, I think a new tea kettle is in order. I love the bright pop of color and the warm wooden handle on this one from Microscope Telescope.

 

Orange Flower Earrings

Orange Flower Earrings

Orange Flower Earrings-Etsy Skomoroki $18.33

I love these delicate vintage earrings and they would be perfect with a light summer dress and some sandals.

 

 

NYDJ Ami Skinny Jeans

NYDJ Ami Skinny Jeans

NYDJ Ami Skinny Jeans-Nordstrom Rack $49.97

Since I’m a Mama myself now and clothes aren’t fitting quite like they used to I have had to re-adjust what I look for when shopping for jeans. These NYDJ jeans have changed my life. They are soft, stylish, have a hihger rise in the back so I’m not dealing with possible underwear exposure every time I pick up my kids. They are so comfortable you will forget you are wearing stylish pants. Go buy a pair for yourself and for your Mama. She will thank you.