Road trips

These might be more popular this year – until at least the skies open up and let us fly away to distant lands . Road trips sound so romantic. They are the things of great literature.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”

Travels with Charley in Search of America – John Steinbeck

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig

“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive.”

And of course you can never consider a road trip without at least watching National Lampoon’s Vacation. It just never gets old.

We often hear of those who do those cross country road trips across Canada from one coast to another. It sounds adventurous and exciting – but not if you are 9 years old. Definitely not. I speak from experience.

I lived in many places as a child because my father was in the Royal Navy but one place we always travelled to – whether we lived in Scotland or in Cornwall – was Birmingham, my grandmother’s home. Slap bang in the middle of England it meant a long long car drive to get there. We hated it.

First of all my Dad would insist on getting us up at 4 am “let’s get an early start, kids”. As he chased us out of bed at that ungodly hour we were greeted by a plate of scrambled eggs. I am not joking. His theory was (after many years on aircraft carriers around the world) that a hearty breakfast settled the stomach and prepared you for the day. We were not great on these long journeys and perhaps in a way his idea worked …. for a while. We forced down the scrambled eggs and climbed into the back of the very packed up car (3 kids in the back) and headed off into the dark night.

Now in those days (and I am NOT saying how many years ago) there were not the same number of highways as today in the UK so very often we had to go through cities. By this time us 3 in the back had been swung around that many corners and up and down the hills of the Cornish and Somerset countryside that we were well and truly ready for a good “up chuck”. Those scrambled eggs had been sitting there just waiting for the chance. And Oh Yes, there was no way Dad was stopping.

I recall travelling around the big ring road in Bristol at rush hour with the two back windows open – my head out on one side and my sister out on the other side – to the disgusted fascination of the early morning commuters. The car was a real mess!

Those were the days of no seat belts and mom and dad having a ciggy in the front while we squabbled in the back. You got into the back seat and you claimed your territory and you held on to it for dear life. If your sibling’s foot dared to even touch yours it would end up in a kicking match in the back with mom turning around to give us a swipe – if she could catch us. If it really got out of control then dad would stop the car. That was Serious – with a capital S.

Nowadays the estimated travel time from Cornwall to Birmingham is about 4 and a half hours – it used to take us 8.

Yup – road trips might be the thing for these times of COVID and travel restrictions but it is certainly no kid’s idea of fun.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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