The Great American Road Trip - Freedom on the Road

Ella Fitzgerald Sings What's In My Heart

It's Bye Bye Blackbird Time

I love being on the road, and the longer the road trip the better. Whether I'm traveling to a new destination or a familiar one, whether I'm alone or with friends or family, I get excited about a long drive. Although the destination may be a place or event I'm looking forward to, it is the road trip that energizes and fascinates me. When dawn is on the horizon, and I lock the door to my house and unlock the door to my car, I leave all my cares and woes behind. It's "Bye Bye Blackbird" time.

Just the anticipation of a long road trip sends me into an ecstatic flurry of planning. I spend days, even weeks, making lists of things to do to get ready. In my house, I arrange for mail to be picked up and plants to be watered. At work, I leave a log of tasks that others will take care of while I’m away. In my car, I make sure tire pressure is up to snuff, oil is changed, and safety equipment is on board. And for the road trip itself, I pack the personal items I need way ahead of time. I never mind this planning effort nor the tasks involved.

Wanderlust May Be Genetic

Road trip planning and preparation are much easier now that my nest is empty, but even when it wasn't, the excitement of a road trip was always there and the work involved never seemed to be a burden. I can happily blame my mother for this. She, my father, and I were on the road between Indiana and New Jersey visiting relatives from the time I was a few months old. I don’t know what make of car my parents had at the time, but it had horsehair upholstery which sends off an aroma that enters the nose and remains as an indelible mark on the brain. I was nine months old when I flew for the first time, and only ten years old when I took my first solo railroad adventure from New Jersey to Ohio. To my mother, who journeyed by sea from Poland to the US during the Great Depression, a 12-hour or 24-hour or 5-day road trip is a piece of cake. Even today, my mother loves to pack up and go, just as I do. She trained me well, but I think this wanderlust is in my genes.


The Joy of Being on the Road - Freedom

America has had a long and abiding love relationship with the car, and even though some say the affair is all but over, I remain in love. Where long ago we'd mount a horse, becoming one with this powerful animal to get from one place to another, now we sit in a car in an ergonometric driver's seat. We find we wear the car like we wear a glove, a contact intimacy like we once had of human butt to horse's back. My driver’s seat is additionally contoured by long use and is totally comfortable, like a well-worn saddle.

I feel joy and excitement when anticipating and then embarking on a road trip. I will become one with my car. I will fly past roadway mile markers, the wind from windows and moon roof blowing through my hair, a cup of coffee or a cold bottle of water comfortably at hand. If I'm alone, I might listen to the radio, or a favorite CD, or nothing more than the hum of the car. My thoughts will wander, always to a peaceful place, never to troubles or worries. Although there is no horsehair upholstery in my car, the memory of its aroma will be with me now and again, a pleasant reminder of other road trips long ago.

My Current Horse

I've had a Mitsubishi Endeavor for six years, and of all the cars I've ever had, this is my favorite. It's roomy, goes everywhere it needs to go no matter the weather conditions, has plenty of V-6 power (225 HP If you want to know) and it's pretty darned good looking. It is a fuel hog, but it is the perfect car for road tripping with family and friends. We can pack everything we need for three people for week-long adventures on the road–blankets, pillows, safety gear, clothes, and road food–and still have plenty of room to be comfortable. For older folks who find it hard to get into an SUV, the Endeavor makes it easy. Its chassis is not too high off the road and it has convenient hand-holds for hoisting yourself up if you need to.

The Beauty of the Open Road

Summer in Oregon
Summer in Oregon | Source

Future Great American Road Trips

I belong to the sandwich generation: I have responsibilities to both my daughter and my mother. Thankfully, both daughter and mother enjoy these road trips as I do. A few years ago, on a trip to visit our family in Ohio, my mother and daughter engaged in a Polish language learning session that almost caused me to crash the car by nearly peeing in my pants. My mother wanted to teach my daughter some basics of the Polish language. As the mile markers rolled by on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, my mother coached my daughter into learning the most naughty of Polish poetry. The good news is that, hours later, my daughter had learned enough Polish to guide my mother to the bathroom at a rest stop, in Polish. My daughter used her newly found Polish words to say, "Go right here, left there, and don't ask for beer."

Joyously, my mother, daughter, and I will be on the road again soon to celebrate a family reunion in Ohio that will honor my mother's and my Aunt Katie's birthdays.

I'll be making the lists, packing the car, and putting my foot on the accelerator to freedom. Maybe my daughter and mother will have a Polish language engagement that brings them both more into line with the great Polish philosophers, historians, and artists, but if they don’t, I’m perfectly happy. Piwo is good enough for me.

An Important First Polish Lesson

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Comments 48 comments

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Fay Paxton 6 years ago

Great post! I used to love to hit the road. I was so desperate, I hit the road with a 1 and 5 year old. The experience gave me a decent hub, otherwise I had to take a little break after that.:)

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Fay, your road trip Hub is hysterical! I added a link to it, above. So glad you enjoyed this one...mine is significantly tamer than yours. :)

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drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

How fortunate you three are all speaking to each other, Sally, and in more than one language. What a fun hub - I enjoyed being on the road with you-all. Have a piwo on me.

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

drbj, it wasn't always that way. I guess like most daughters, I certainly had my issues with my mother. But the older we both get, the more we appreciate each other (we never stopped loving each other), and the more tolerant we are about each other's differences. We still knock heads now and again, but usually wind up laughing. My daughter is, in my eyes and my mom's, of course, the golden child who can do no wrong. She's never had an issue with either one of us! LOL...I might find out differently when she reads this Hub.

Dziekuje bardzo for enjoying being on the road with us. It's a pleasure to have you along. Hey, hide that piwo, quick!

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DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

Wonderful--I, too, love to go on trips, and took my daughters on many camping trips during their growing-up years.

It's a "thing" I inherited from my dad--we were avid campers as well.

It reminds me of one of my poems I'll share with you here, as it's too short to qualify for HP (but I MIGHT include it in a grouping):


"Crankcase topped off; coolant--A-ok.

A full tank of gas, the open interstate.

Definition: Freedom."

© 3-18-96


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Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

My dear Sally, we are soulmates for sure, that is how I have always spend my spare time. Now, I am retired and have all the time in the world, can't travel anymore on a very limited income. Oh, how I would meet everyone and the locals and stay to chat, miss it so much. Fantastic hub, rate up love & peace darski

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Oh, MsLizzy, that is so beautiful, so evocative of a daughter and her father. I do think you could make a Hub of it, adding illustrations that you feel complement your beautiful words and adding your thoughts to those illustrations. And also telling about your father. I do think it's a Hub in and of itself, just waiting for the right time. Thank you so much for sharing this here.

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Darski, I sense a connection between us, too. I would love to have you on a road trip with me...I have a tendency to stay away from conversations, preferring corn fields and shaggy mountains to commune with. You'd show me another side of this freedom. If we don't get to this in our life times, we'll surely do it in heaven. Peace.

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Micky Dee 6 years ago

I think I need a piwo! Thank you ma'am!

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

There's one in the cooler with your name on it, Micky!

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Nevada Logan 6 years ago from USA

What a sweet hub, makes me want to hit the road again....but somewhere warm!

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Nevada, I'm with you. I'm more than ready for this nasty, bitter winter to be behind me, and I'd love to get in the car today and head south! Thanks for reading and leaving the good words.

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PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Sally - This brought back a flood of memories of our family trips in the car - the road games we made up, the singing, the passing scenery, and that was enough to entertain us. We'd stop for gas - there was the ting-ting-ting of the gas pump while we sipped our YooHoo or Grape Nehi sodas waiting our turn for the bathroom.

How lucky you are to have your Mom teach your family the language of her heritage. My Grandmother spoke Polish and several other languages - but I never got the chance to learn them. Wonderful hub.

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FlyingPanther 6 years ago from here today gone tomorrow!!


I am south right now weather is lovely.I have been on many road trip thanks to greyhound! I should buy some share with there compagny really!

great hub again keep on the good work.

Love always.


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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Peg, what beautiful memories. I wonder if any gas pumps go ting-ting-ting any more. A piece of the past that's gone but not forgotten.

You bring up such a good point about games and songs. A favorite uncle of mine would get all of us kids going with "Macaroni, I love macaroni," (macaroni on my head, on my eyes, on my ears, on my nose...I wonder if anyone remembers that nonsense song, sort of like 99 bottles of beer on the wall) and when we got to "macaroni on my hands," he'd take his hands off the wheel and scare us to death. We didn't realize he was steering with his knees!

I hope today's road tripping kids are doing some of these goofy things, too. So glad you enjoyed your read!

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gypsumgirl 6 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

Thank you for a wonderful hub! I love road trips! Reading this hub brought back many memories I have from my childhood to today. I went on road trips with my parents and siblings when I was a kid. Now, I go on road trips with my husband. We always have a blast! Stopping along the way to explore unexpected sights intrigues me. I really enjoyed your hub!

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Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

I have wonderful memories of childhood road trips - my father loved to drive everywhere and we saw a lot of the country that way. These days road trips are few and far between but I'm always game for one! :)

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Jaspal 6 years ago from New Delhi, India

Great hub Sally! Brings back so many nostalgic memories. I used to love taking long road trips. From the time I was a child to when I was father to three, we'd go any and everywhere by road. And, in between those two periods, there was a time I did a number of such trips on motorcycle!! But, now it's been many years that I haven't undertaken a journey that involves a few nights halt enroute ...

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mikeq107 6 years ago

Boy This is one of the main reasons I live in this country. I have traveled it in My toyota Dolphin RV, by Motorcycle many , Many truly feeds my soul.

Just your opening words at my mind racing to times past and Thinking of things to come....I truly believe we were never ment to stay in just one place..after all God has given us this wonderful place to explore and it would be a great shame not to do so. I love this country.

Yes, like you setting of just as the sun is beggining to rise and finishing as it it is going down thrills my heart no end....My favourtie is when the stress begins to build..I will look at my Loving wife and she and I know (a) I need to get on my old BMW and ride for a few days in cental Oregon, Nevada, Mohavi, desret, sometimes I,m gone 6 days even more and never truly know where I,m going and then its just time to return when I have it all out of my system.. (B) we go together, pack the car and hit The 101 from Oregon to CA...Travel is much much apart of us..Ok stopping here before I run out of road..see you got me going VVVVrrrooooommmmmmmmm...

Love your Hubs Sally :0)

Mike :0) OOOOO

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

FlyingPanther, I actually loved taking long bus trips. I haven't in many years, but the urge may hit one day. I know what you mean by buying shares in Greyhound...I should be doing that with the Scott paper company for all the tissues I go through! Catch a tan for me. :)

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

gypsumgirl, thank you for all the good words. What you said about you and your husband really rings a bell. My ex and I used to road trip a lot, but his way of road tripping was quite different from mine. I'm one of those people who have to plan things out--know where I am and where I'm going, and meet timelines. He, however, looked at a road trip as a serendipity, jumping off a main route to venture through back roads in more or less the right direction. Sometimes I'd get frustrated (as you can imagine), but all in all these serendipities were wonderful. I never would have experienced the magic of the backroads and byways any other way and now I'm more inclined to invite a serendipity or two. I'm glad you enjoyed my Hub; I enjoyed your comment very much.

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Feline Prophet, I saw your comment on my Hub about road trip food. I have a feeling you are ready for a road adventure. Wish it could be here! As I mentioned in the other Hub, you pass me the food and I'll make sure you have everything you need. Thanks always for reading and leaving your thoughtful comments.

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Mike, you have this feeling like I do. I don't know that I'd say this country is the reason for my exploring, but I do know I have the need to GO.

I love how you get the dawn and the sunset. The time between the two is not just a measure of a day but a measure of an experience on the road. It's full of magic.

I also understand that stress of needing to go. I feel it less, these days, but now and again its song still sings to me.

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and experiences.

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Jaspal, maybe it's time to get in the car and go.

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saddlerider1 6 years ago

I have done many road trips in my time driving everything from cars, motorcycles to 18 wheelers. I drove 18 wheelers between 2000-2008 ended my driving and went into transportation management up until 2011 retired now and simply doing some mobile security work for fun. Always loved driving. Great hub, loved it, full of information.

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

saddlerider1, I've always had a fascination with big rigs, but never had the joy of riding in one or driving one. In the old days, my ex teased me with the idea of having a Kenworth or Volvo show up at our small town house to take me for a drive. I would have loved that, but I would have loved driving it myself even more.

Glad you enjoyed this Hub. You're a road spirit.

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Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

A wonderful hub and enjoyed reading it.

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Thanks H,h!

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wytegarillaz 6 years ago from Australia

Have driven across Australia, Thru Europe & want to do the drive across America!!

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Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

I do hope you get to do just that, wytegarillaz. It's quite a country! I'd love to drive Australia one day.

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Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

Hi, Sally! You want to make me take a road trip. I want to go somewhere, anywhere but it ain't in the cards right now. My mini van has 113,000 miles on it, and I don't feel the old gal would make it.

The idea of your mother teaching your daughter Polish on the ride is such a great idea! A wonderful way to pass the time and pass your heritage on to the next generation. Your daughter will keep these road trip Polish lessons in her heart forever!

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Dolores, yours are the words a writer wants to hear. I didn't intend this to be a persuasive piece, but I'm glad it makes you want to get on the road! I hear you about mileage on the old gal, and I wish that weren't so.

You're right, my daughter will keep the lessons in her heart, and I'm looking forward to more of the same on our next trip to Ohio.

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James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I love to be on the open road, too. I very much enjoyed taking this journey with you. Here's one for the road!

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

And cheers to you, James! It's a pleasure having you along.

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Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, that's what I like about America, you have so many roads to travel and for miles and miles, England is great, but it only takes a while to get anywhere, unless of course you are going to Scotland! lol then it is a bit of a trek!

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Gregory Hasman 66 5 years ago from Denton TX

what are your favorite roads?

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

True, Nell, America has a wealth of road choices and such a variety of topography. I've never had the pleasure of road tripping in a car in England, although I once did take a bus from London to Edinburgh! So glad you stopped to read and comment. :)

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Gregory, favorite roads are hard to choose. There are many I like a lot for different reasons. The PA Turnpike, for one, and that's mostly because of the childhood memories I have of visiting friends and family in Ohio and West Virginia. Gotta love those tunnels! Then there's Route 1 along the California coast. A magnificent drive! Maybe your question might inspire another road trip Hub! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I inherited wanderlust from my dad and his side of the family. And do I remember horsehair upholstery! Daddy's cousin Vivian's Hudson had it. That car was built like a tank but surprisingly fast, and she had a lead foot. She loved to take us all over western Kansas. Seat belts were unheard of, nor were they necessary in that car. The minute we were on the highway and she floored the accelerator, G-forces took over, and my brother and I (and I suppose my parents too, up front) would be plastered to that upholstery for the duration! ;D

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

LOL My Grandma Ellie had that same lead foot (wonder if she was related to Vivian?). She'd take us for rides on back country roads looking for "tummy ticklers." Actually, she knew where these rises and falls in the roads were (I think you know the engineering behind that...making things easier for the horse) but always pretended she didn't. And of course, the bumps don't tickle your tummy nearly enough unless you are going VERY fast. Thanks for the great comment!

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JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Vivian was a "good daughter" who lived at home until she was almost 30 and finally consented to marry a much older, never-married veterinarian. He determined early on that he couldn't make her slow down behind the wheel, so it was he who picked out the Hudson *because* it was, for all intents and purposes, a tank that would keep her safe from serious injury if she were ever in an accident (which she never was). I was always amazed that the Hudson could go as fast as it did, considering it was made of solid steel and must've weighed a couple of tons (or more)! ;D

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

The car is quite possibly the strongest symbol of individualism and rebellion this country has ever known. Apparently Vivian needed a vehicle of expression, and her older vet husband obliged. I think the same was true for my Grandma Ellie...her car was an outlet for stepping outside the norms of the day-to-day life expected of her. What a great insight...when are you writing that Hub? :)

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JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Sally, I already wrote it - sort of - as a post on my blog. At the risk of getting my wrist slapped by HP for self-promotion, here's the link:

Only wish the photo of the Hudson had been in color, as it was the same color green as an Army tank! ;D

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Thank you so much for sharing this link, Jama. Your account of Vivian is heart warming and therefore precious to anyone who is a human being.

There's a whole 'nother spin to this that you could certainly develop into one of your sensational Hubs, without risking a wrist-slap.

Vivian was a most fascinating person, and what happened of her daughter? Do you keep in touch, or is she gone? So much more I'd love to know.

Also, thank you so much for the link to Saturday's Child. So much more to see.

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JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Vivian's daughter, as far as the family is concerned, has been MIA for decades. I'm not even sure she's still alive. A friend tracked down what we think is her son's address and phone number, but he was a toddler the last time I saw him, so it may not be him. But contacting him is on my "Must Do Soon" list. Many lost long or unknown relatives have contacted me after finding a hub or blogpost about a common relative, but this hasn't happened in this case. Maybe I will write that hub!

Apologies for the dust bunnies on Sat's Child. It's became something of a neglected step-child in the past year while I was moving and getting settled in a new state, but I have to bring it up to date in the near future. It was the source of most of my AdSense $$ when I posted every other day. ;D

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

I hope you do pursue this, Jama.

There are no relatives of my generation that have gone MIA, although too many have died.

As for dust bunnies, I have plenty of them in my house and in my mind, all due for a major overhaul.

Saturday's Child is awesome. Dust bunnies or not.

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JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Thanks. Glad you like Sat's Child. As for Vivian's daughter, the family didn't cut her off (as it sounded like when I re-read my comment), she cut herself off from us. Not knowing the reason(s) may be why I'm reluctant to make contact.

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Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Sometimes extending a hand after a long time of absence brings rewards. What's the harm in trying?

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