I love a road trip! I have been blessed with some memorable happy journeys the last dozen or so years. I enjoy the planning phase as much as the execution. My method is to look at MapQuest for the lay of the land. I study the routes and cities between the starting and stopping points. I try to make a 7–10-day agenda. Money and nerves seem to curtail any longer of a trip. I look at TripAdvisor and read reviews and forums. I google the top 10 things to see in whatever area I am visiting. I ask others about their favorite stops. People are the best. So interesting. They are all so sure that they have found the best!! This is fun. I love to see passion. I visit the Ashland library to check out any books about the area. Also, I have checked out CDs of books to listen to along the journey. Lately I’ve switched to audible books. My group enjoyed Animal Farm on one memorable trip. Another trip it was Fahrenheit 451, and another Orwell’s 1984. Then I tried a little Hemmingway in honor of my good friends promise that this would be great. Another book we really enjoyed on audible was Slaughterhouse-Five. On a trip to Maine, I felt I should listen to Moby Dick. I must admit that I just couldn't love it. This book is just miserable (sorry to my literary friends). I try to find a book that speaks to the theme of the trip if possible. On a recent Texas trip, we listened to Empire of the Summer Moon. This book told the story of a little girl in Texas taken by the Comanches during the westward expansion of Texas. I found it fascinating that she lived on the then border of our country’s reach and not that long ago. She later becomes the mother of Quanah Parker.
Zack, the youngest of my three children, is the inspiration for the readings. He loves to read. Also, he is the only one of my tribe who took to road tripping. Riding in the back of the minivan provided him a get a way to escape to whatever world he was currently visiting. He would pack a stack of books for these journeys and just immerse himself to reading, looking up on occasion to ask where we were. My sister and mom are the co-pilots for most trips and Zack goes to the back row for his haven. We have visited Yellowstone, Maine, drove the west coast, east coast, coast to coast (LA to Myrtle Beach), Albuquerque to Dallas, New England, Key West, and Wisconsin/Michigan loop.
Some of our trips have been centered around authors. One of our trips was a literary route in New England. We visited Louisa May Alcott’s home. This home has been preserved with even the drawings her sister made on the walls. Additionally, we visited the House of Seven Gables made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Also, Mark Twain House and Museum and Author’s Ridge in Massachusetts with a stop by Walden Pond. But probably of most significance and on the complete opposite coast, we visited Steinbeck’s childhood home in Salinas California. Steinbeck is Zack’s favorite author. Some of the magic of these road trips is the shared excitement over small things that mean a lot to the individual. This excitement is contagious. Road tripping is not for everyone, but I suggest you find those who can hang with you and plot a course.
I love to watch the scenery change as can only be experienced on a road trip. Two memories stand out in this way. One was my first viewing of the west. I drove a good portion of Route 66 as one of my first trips. Wow, the scenery was amazing. It spoke to me as I witnessed God’s beautiful creation. How he provides such an array of color and change as you move across the land. The second most incredible scenery change was that of driving the west coast from LA to Seattle along Route 1. My sister and I were certainly annoying to anyone who could hear in our ever expressive “oh my gosh, this is amazing”, around each and every curve. This road was designed to thrill. But I truly love this element of road travel. The change in scenery and color is indescribable. How can there be so many shades of blue and brown?! Have you ever seen a glacier? Now there is another shade of blue that will surprise.
It doesn’t seem to matter where we go, we will have fun and find interesting things to do. Another fun trip was that of Ashland to Chicago to Wisconsin Dells. Here the river looked like chocolate. We enjoyed the food and culture. Visiting towns and experiencing cheese curds, we then headed to Green Bay and on to the UP (Upper Peninsula). We loved the UP. It was like another country. The residents seemed extra proud of their unique place on the planet. We then headed south taking in as many Michigan attractions as possible. This is a state I must go back and explore further.
Slowly, very slowly, I have transformed my homebody husband into a bit of a traveler. He loves hiking and national parks. Last year we flew to Fresno, California rented a car, and drove north to Kings Canyon NP, Sequoia NP, and Yosemite NP, we then flanked west to visit Davis, California. Here a piece of my heart lives in that of my bff from high school, Val Sal. We had a perfect day in San Fran and walked along Stinson Beach, visiting Point Reyes with a fabulous outdoor lunch and tons of laughs. We got to see the Coastal Redwoods in Samuel P Taylor State Park where we walked among these giants. The coastal Redwoods are my favorite! We then headed to Lake Tahoe and flew home from Reno, NV. My method for this style of travel is to look at cheap flights and rental cars and design my timing around deals.
I so appreciate Allegiant Air. I say they offer services to the people. People like me! Some argue that they nickel and dime one to death, but I feel that they offer options. You can pay for your seat and buy your snacks if you want. My husband and I don't necessarily sit beside each other. A detail he finds weird in my cheap way of travel. In more recent trips, I have let up on that miserly way. We are now older and at times have achy knees that need the extra leg space a purchased seat can provide.
Additionally, I like a picnic along the route at a rest area. This too can save money and time but also be fun. One time I had leftover fish tacos from a stop in Omaha, Nebraska that I ate at a rest stop in Minnesota the next day. This was a mistake! I have never liked fish tacos since. But normally a cooler is your friend on a road trip.
When I first started road tripping Priceline had just started the name your own price deal. I am a numbers geek and thought $49 was lucky. I would bid $49 and often get the deal. I stayed in a ton of fabulous accommodations on the cheap. Like many things, this was too good to last.
Not only have I been transforming my husband to a traveler, but he has been transforming me as well. Over the years he has tamed me. We are enjoying our empty nest and slower pace. Lately, we have been in a season of rest. I am much more content to stay home then earlier in my life. We enjoy gardening, cooking, family, and friends. The garden is ready to plant, and we can’t wait! But don’t be surprised if I post a bunch of pictures on a road trip this summer as I just can’t seem to help myself!
Dr. Cynthia M. Shelton is a Professor of Mathematics at ACTC. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Ph.D. in STEM Education in December 2021. She received a Master of Arts in Education from MSU in August 1992 and a Bachelor of Science from MSU in December 1989. Additionally, she received an Associate of Arts Degree from Ashland Community College in May 1988. Cindy enjoys hanging out with friends and family, road trips, concerts, hiking, and kayaking.