Growing up in the 60s, we both had a similar background regarding summer vacation trips….most of them involved the car. As children, we traveled with our families to places near and far, including a 6 week jaunt that Frank and his parents made to California in 1960. There were always scenic stops along the way, some of them National Parks or historic sights, and some of them just kitschy tourist spots that had been advertised for miles and miles by billboards along the road. Lunch was more often than not served out of a backseat cooler, or was a bologna sandwich made after a visit to a local grocery store. It was a way of life for many Baby Boomers as they grew up, and we were two of them! Where do you think they got the ideas for the National Lampoon Vacation movies?
When we got married in 1979, we took a two week Honeymoon. On the first week, we took a cruise to Bermuda, but on the second week we took a road trip! Both sets of our parents had honeymooned at Niagara Falls, and being the traditionalists that we were, we decided to continue the tradition. For 7 days we traveled through New York State and Canada in a 1979 Red Mercury Capri, spending each night in a motel along the way that we’d found in the AAA Tour Book, and having most of our lunches out of a back seat cooler. The D’Elia Family dye was probably set with that wonderful week in October of 1979. We were Road Trip people!!!
For the next couple of years, many of our vacations involved the two of us being in the car with a cooler in the back seat! One memorable one was an 8 day jaunt through the Northeast in 1980 when we covered 10 different states, and went from playing golf in Pennsylvania, to crawling through caves in New Hampshire. Now sometimes a plane ride was involved, but often times at the end of the plane trip, a rental car and a styrofoam cooler waited for us on the other end, and another car trip!When the kids started showing up, road trips continued….we even drove from NY to Minnesota when Susie was very pregnant with Billy. Our first was with a very young Billy, strapped in the back of our 2 door Honda Civic, as we traveled down to the Outer Banks to visit Sue’s Aunt and Uncle in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. When Krissi and Kenny joined the family, the road trips continued. Now there were visits to places we’d visited as kids, like the North Pole in upstate New York. Every year there was a road trip to visit Amish Country in the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania, and two summers, we loaded up the D’Elia Family vans, for multi week trips down to Florida! Our kids were raised on these kinds of trips and even experienced several fly and drive road trips. One year we flew out to LA, rented a van and drove the west coast for 15 days. Another year, we flew to London, rented a van and spent 3 weeks driving all over Great Britain exploring all the way up to the northern parts of Scotland where the sun didn’t set till 10:30 at night!
Looking back on our history involving the road trips, I guess you can see that we are well versed in hitting the road and exploring. We are not like some, in that we don’t make minute to minute plans, detailing where we are stopping every night and leaving the house with a folder full of reservations. While there needs to be some planning and even reservations, as there are just some places that you can’t wander into and expect to find a room, between those necessary guide points, we prefer to revert to the good old AAA Tour book, with the modern twist that now we can check the motels reviews on the iPad, and even make a reservation as we get close to stopping for the night via cell phone!
Americans are by enlarge explorers and wanderers. Were that not the case, we might still be living in a country of 13 states, all hugging the Atlantic coast. While traveling the Interstate, in a car carrying all the comforts of home is not even minutely related to traveling across this country on the Oregon Trail, that sense of adventure of going to new places and seeing new things still exists. Frank still remembers the first time he read the opening chapters of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie when he was in high school. The way Steinbeck talks about wanderlust being an American tradition, and how he saw it in the eyes of so many, young and old, as he prepared for his trip. There are still several dog eared copies of that book in our bookcase, and it gets more dogeared yearly as it’s re-read.
So, it’s time for the first of we hope will be many road trips in our retired life. What we like to call, WE CAN DO IT ANYTIME WE WANT BECAUSE WE’RE RETIRED trips! This time, its off to Florida and something we’ve never been to before… Spring Training! Our trip advisor for this go-around is our oldest son Billy, who before he became the father of our two adorable Grandkids, went every year with a group of Mets and Yankee fans. We’re figuring three days and two nights on the road, which will give us the opportunity to perhaps do a little exploring, even if it is only in the AAA Tour book to find our nightly stops. Once down in Florida, we’re taking advantage of Frank’s Disney Retiree perks, and spending three nights at Disney’s Port Orleans, French Quarter for half price! As free visits to the parks are also one of his benefits, we will probably avail ourselves of a couple of those visits, but we also expect to explore a bit, and relax in warmer weather too! While in Disney, we will see the Mets play (and beat) the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium at the Disney ESPN complex. After three nights, we move over to Port St. Lucie where we’ll see the Mets take on the St. Louis Cardinals at the Mets Spring Training Complex.
Following that game, we’re off in the car again heading north, and we’ll see where the maps and our desires take us. Will we make a visit to South of the Border as we did when we took the kids to Florida many years ago? Perhaps take a detour off of I-95 and explore a little of the coast of Georgia or Virginia? Only time, and our desire to get home or stay on the road will tell. Our maps and Tour Books have arrived from the AAA, and it’s just a matter of days before we’re off on this first adventure. Heck, we even made our first new purchase…a back seat cooler for those lunches in the car along the way!!
We hope you’ll join us as we set off on this first adventure of our new chapter. There’s plenty of room but please, no complaints about lunch. If you’re not happy with whatever comes out of that new back seat cooler, perhaps our style of road trip is not for you. But if you’re good rolling with the punches, staying where we desire, going places with no particular plan, and enjoying relaxing meals on the road, pack your bag and join in!
See you on the road!!