Road Trip!

Labor Day holiday is one of the busiest US travel times of the year. Come Sept 3, an estimated 34.4 million Americans will head out of town for one last fling of summer.

The most popular destination? Las Vegas, baby!

Coincidentally, I’m on the other side of the world now, yet I’m aligning with the trend almost perfectly. I’m traveling to Vegas, sort of. I’m visiting Macau, the gaming capital of the East.

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As I get older and think about my adult travels, I often reflect on my first travel experiences, summer road trips with family.

Do you have those memories too?

We lived in Alabama, but that didn’t stop us from piling in the van and going to Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon, Houston, and Florida. One year, we even took along our dog and her litter of 5-week old puppies! (What in the world were my parents thinking?)

My brother, sister, and I always argued over where we sat, and my parents devised a rotating schedule for when we each got to sit by ourselves. We drew that invisible line across the vinyl, but my sister always broke the rules and taunted me, “I’m touching you! I’m touching you!”

My mom used to bring a box of special chocolate pecan candies on the trips. She would hand them out once a day and while my brother and sister gobbled up theirs, I would hold mine in the palm of my hand savoring it for hours. Sometimes it melted in my hand and got so gross, but other times, I’d fall asleep with it and when I woke up, it was gone, brother or sister snatching it away unbeknownst to me.

Like many families, we had our usual car fights. My sister once used her entire hand to scratch my face, and I had a trail of blistery scars starting at my forehead going down to my chin. My dad yelled at us to “stop screeching” and threatened to pull over so many times.

One year when we were pulling a camper behind us, my brother was banished back there for an hour for being a brat. And I remember one year when my mom and dad got into a huge fight after my dad refused to give a migrant worker outside an A&W some money so he could buy a root beer on a hot day in New Mexico.

I remember all the great places we used to stay, motels with rinky-dink pools and KOA campgrounds. We ate lots of pancake breakfasts and stopped at Bob’s Big Boy, where I always got the chocolate ice cream layer cake.

And there was always a summer road trip song…

In the spirit of this post, here are some photos from a road trip I took in Okinawa recently. We stopped at a local rest stop and discovered such amazing things you can buy there. I love other countries…

These are $60 mangoes!


When's the last time you saw fruit in a 7-Eleven?

Dragon Fruit

Yes, you can buy a pet beetle too...

So very different from the corn dogs and packs of Bubblelicious we used to stock up on…

Did you take road trips with your family? What details do you remember? Have you seen strange things to buy at rest stops in other countries?


6 thoughts on “Road Trip!

  1. Crissy Vera-Marin

    Hi Mary!
    My mom just showed me your blog and I love it! I just read your road trip and that is so funny about the chocolate pecan candies!! My mom would always bring crackers and cheese whiz!! Your travels are so interesting and funny. That is so wonderful that you get to travel so much. With two kids and a husband (like 3 kids, really) it is hard to do all of that great traveling. I will have to travel vicariously through reading your blog!

  2. Yep, we took lots of raod trips and I hated them. They’re torture for a person with motion sickness. I remember loving to stop at Stucky’s rest stops and stalking up on any candy they had.

    • maryrichardson

      Fly Girl,
      Yes, I suffer from motion sickness too! Somehow I slept it off when I was younger though… I remember those Stuckeys candies!

  3. Wonderful post. I have a deep love for road trips too, and I hope to eventually do one outside of the US.

    My family took a lot of road trips when I was younger– leading me to think my parents were masochists. We drove to Florida from Massachusetts, which means we stopped at South of the Border. On my most recent road trip I saw signs for South of the Border (which is in South Carolina) all the way up in Pennsylvania (stating that South of the Border is only one state away!)

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Jacqui,
      At times, I thought my parents were masochists too! Isn’t the great American road trip as a kid the ultimate experience? Glad to hear that yours were long ones too- lots of chances for fighting and tension in the car!

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