Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gettin' Antsy...

I think it’s time for a road trip.

Spring? Check.

Been sitting behind the computer dealing with tax crap too long? Check.

Everyone getting sick because they’ve been cooped up in the house too long? Check.

Yup. Definitely road trip time.

Linguini family road trips are more memorable than any planned vacation we’ve ever taken. On vacation, we know where we’re going and why because we’ve researched it thoroughly due to the huge cash outlay required. Road trips are spontaneous and there is no guarantee that the direction you are heading will yield anything exciting. Vacations require a week’s worth of packing. Road trips, if any luggage at all is required, are throw-a-toothbrush-in-the-bag affairs, with a change of underwear and socks. In fact, vacations can feature several road trips.

And don’t think we just pick a direction and head that way. Noooooo…that would be much too obvious. We’ve got a destination in mind, usually via Roadside America (the website, not the model railroading extravaganza in Pennsylvania). The cheesier, the better.We may or may not get there, but as a focus it works.

And forget major tourist traps. We don’t go to Hershey, Pa., to see Hershey Park or even the chocolate plant. We head 20 minutes away to take the shallow water ferry across the Susquehanna River.

We try to confine road trips to one day, but we’ve pretty much consumed all the local cheese.

The best part of road trips isn’t always the destination we originally planned. Road markers were made for people like us. All those plaques pounded into concrete sidewalks commemorating some event no one remembers? We read every one of them and have to find out why they’re there. Only the Linguinis would plan a trip to Long Branch, NJ, just to see the statue of James Garfield (and they have a spa hotel that takes dogs!).

This is where Dirtman shines as the road trip king. Dirtman is genuinely interested in people because he finds the behind-the-scenes workings of even the most mundane operations fascinating, thereby making the people doing them feel fascinating. People will tell him about the local attractions they usually keep for themselves. They give us things. We get tours and free food and all kinds of extras.

I remember taking the water taxi at Inner Harbor in Baltimore once. It was really hot and the guy running the boat was just hanging on the controls, droning his mandatory orders, not making eye contact, sort of annoyed. We got out on the water and Dirtman started asking the guy what kind of hours he works, how he learned to run the boat, what regulations he had to follow. You could actually see the guy straighten up as he related to Dirtman about how he had to time his trips and deal with large groups and all the other errata of his job. When we got to Little Italy where we were stopping and everyone got off, he gave the boys (10 and 7 at the time) a little tour of the boat, showing the safety equipment and how it ran -- guy stuff. Then he hopped out of the boat and gallantly gave me his hand to disembark.

So, because of Dirtman, we’ve seen an oasis in the middle of the Nevada desert, received free fossils from a tour guide in Wyoming, knew to go here instead of here (“It smells really bad,” our bellhop told us.) when we were in Utah, got to see vernal pools, real and imagined, in San Diego and, on our honeymoon, toured a gravestone quarry (a story in and of itself…) in Vermont.

I do, however, have to credit my cousin with showing us the studio where Jimi Hendrix started out and the gay bar where Thomas Paine lived that’s named after my aunt, both in New York City. And you probably went to see the Statue of Liberty


Leslie Shelor said...

I just nominated you for best funny female blogger at http://bestofblogger.blogspot.com/. You're the best (except for maybe JAG but she's kinfolk)!

sisiggy said...

Well thanks, Leslie!

I'm awfully tame though...and then there's the previous angsty post...

But it's a thrill just to be nominated.

Mrs Lifecruiser said...

Ah, love roadtrips! Exactly like that shall it be.

Isn't it wonderful with this kind of persons, like Dirtman? I have many times wished I could be like that!

Love the mention of the gravestone, made me curious! You simply must write down that story later.

John said...

You were in Utah and didn't look us up? I think The Cat Lady and I are actually rather offended! ::nose in the air::

Seriously, the Lake can stink...good choice.

The Cat Lady and I LOVE taking day trips and overnight trips. WE tend to plan the overnight trips, but on the day trips, we are a lot like you talked about. Fill the gas tank, procure drinkage and grindage (best if all three are in one stop), pick a road and GO! We have pretty thoroughly explored northern Utah...I think we may have to move soon.