The All American Roadtrip

 

by David Jerome

Twenty years ago this Summer I set out alone on a two month drive around – no set plans, no destination, the goal was simply adventure.  My companion, transportation, and occasional lodging for the trip would be my 1985 Chevy Blazer with a frequently blinking “Check Engine” light.  I called it my Chevy Motel, because the back seat folded down and to save money this would be my motel room for about a third of the nights.
Looking back on it now with the technology we have today, it’s hard to imagine just how primitive the trip actually was: no cell phone, no GPS, no internet, not even a AAA card.  I would check-in with my parents once a week from various places around the country by pay phone.
I drove the interstates, and highways, but preferred the two lane country roads whenever possible.  I cruised the farm communities where the only program that the radio could pick up was the local crop report. One dark night somewhere on the great plains my country music was interrupted by the National Weather Service which issued a tornado warning.  This was scary for a California kid who had never experienced weather before and didn’t want to end up in Oz.  I spent a couple of soul-searching hours parked under a bridge wondering why I had left California, but thankfully nothing happened.
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While cruising around the flood-ravaged Midwest, the area jetsetters call “fly-over country,” I finally understood the song America The Beautiful.  I witnessed acres of wheat fields gently swaying back and forth in the late afternoon Summer breeze, and thought, “Ah, amber waves of grain.”  Since that day, that song has held a deeper meaning for me.
I tried local dishes at regional restaurant chains such as Shoney’s, Bob Evans, Waffle House, and Roy Rogers.  I did my laundry in Vermont and had a haircut in Louisville.  In New York City I saw Woody Allen play the clarinet in his Dixieland band, and on a Sunday night in bar in Billings, Montana I ran into Academy award winning actor, Lou Gossett Jr.
I ate Mystic Pizza, and had a drink at the Bull & Finch (Cheers bar) in Boston.  A good ol’ boy I met in a Fort Smith, Arkansas told me that he knew of a strip joint that took food stamps.  I played pick-up basketball games all over the country, most notably with “Big Mike” in Lafayette, Indiana who had the shiniest gold front tooth I‘d ever seen.  I cheered-on the Durham Bulls, and looked for baseball ghosts on The Field of Dreams.  I toured the Fargo Walk of Fame, Kittyhawk, NC,  Mt. Rushmore, Sun Records, and Boys Town.
My bug-splattered windshield saw over 13,000 miles and 38 states on that trip, which greatly aided my bucket list goal of visiting every state.  Two months to the day I returned to Fullerton with a suntanned left arm, a greater love and appreciation for our amazing country, and the basis for my book, “Roastbeef‘s Promise.”
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Posted on November 11, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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