My family was of modest means, so vacations & trips meant the car, not jets. Most of our vacations were to visit family across the USA – many miles between the SF Bay Area and West Virginia. My mom’s people were in WV, and along the way, we visited my dad’s people in Kansas, St. Louis, and Minnesota. So many memories!
The most memorable road trip, hands down, was the Big Mother’s Day Weekend Road Trip. This trip was HUGE for me because it was the first time I drove a long distance. Fears of getting lost or stranded were abated by “Tom,” the GPS, and having my daughter with me, who actually inherited a sense of direction from someone in the family, not me. It was also HUGE for me to head down the road with my daughter and her daughter to visit my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, respectively.
The only witnesses to my wrong turns and oops moments were my girls. And Tom. No husbands to make fun of us or unwanted suggestions. Just us girls!
We were only out of the driveway 10 seconds when Tom hollered at us, “Turn the car around!” He was speaking with a Caribbean accent which made him sound panicky. I assured my passengers that Tom just wanted to take a different route to the freeway and he would re-calculate and adjust. I thought.
Caribbean Tom was more stubborn than the other Toms we had guiding us. My daughter picked out Darth Vader Tom, who was cool once we got used to his voice. If he had to recalculate because I ignored him, he would get grumpy – “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
A small “oooh,” came from the back seat. Even a three-year-old knew we had done something wrong. To try and reassure her, I said, “He’ll get over it.” We all realized how stupid that statement was two seconds later when we drove into the rest area.
Tears were rolling down my face. I was laughing so hard that I could not look at either of my girls. They could hustle faster than I, so they were peeing when I got there. I’m happy to say that we all made it with dry underwear.
After we stretched our legs and got snax out of the vending machine, we were back on Interstate 5 (I-5). If you travel from Northern to Southern California, you can drive almost straight there on I-5. Less chance of getting lost but more chance of falling asleep.
The town of Coalinga will keep you awake with its smell. Its nickname is “cow linger.” We were thankful Mother’s Day was in May and not August.
After leaving Darth Vader at the rest area, we let my granddaughter choose the next Tom to guide us. She liked Carl from the movie, “Sling Blade.” Uh Huh. For some reason, the trip seemed longer, with Carl leading us. Since we only had an hour left on the trip, we listened to happy giggling from the back seat. Carl guided us to my mom’s condo in Laguna Niguel with no trouble. Instead of saying, “you have reached your destination,” like the other guys, Carl says, “You’re here now. Hope nobody’s dead.”
And nobody was.