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Road Trips

Once upon a time a young couple embarked on a long road trip in a 1977 Toyota Corolla without air conditioning. Not to be confused with young couples searching for meaning, or adventure, said couple went in search of work. Florida, their state of residence, was struggling through a serious economic downturn; construction jobs were few and far between. Towing a little Ford Ranger truck behind them, they headed west to the promised land--California.

Now, this young couple had a little help with the trip. The young man's parents flew to Florida from their home in California, taking the couple's one year old with them, while the couple made the difficult journey across the country during the worst heat of the summer. Day after day they drove, sometimes he, sometimes she. Even then she had a serious fear of bridges. Once, during the trip, while he was taking a much needed nap, the news came over the CB radio that there was a serious bridge up ahead. Not surprising, as this was in Louisiana, a state with many bridges. Panicking, she woke her husband, telling him that they must find a place to pull over so they could switch drivers. Without complaint, he did so, all the while trying to alleviate her fears. By the time, the little Corolla, towing the Ford, made the climb to the top, the car was straining in first gear. Imagine how frightened she was heading toward the bottom. Truth be told, he was probably scared as well, just didn't let on. (

The trip was hard--five days of intense heat, no more so than in Death Valley near the end of the trip. Temperatures were hovering around 130 degrees. Phoneix was hot, Texas was wide, and New Mexico was pretty. Up until the journey, she had spent very few nights of her life in a motel room. Gas was cheap in those days. At one time she still had her diary with all the gas ups logged. If her memory serves her right, maybe $85? Didn't seem so cheap back then. Her frugal nature was shaken by all the expense involved.

Up until the road trip, said couple's little boy was rarely out of their sight. Before leaving Florida, he'd taken a few tentative steps, making his new mother think that walking would begin any day. Every evening, when the couple called his parents, the woman would ask the same question--is he walking yet? Every evening, her mother-in-law gave the same answer--no.

Finally, after more than five days, they reached the promised land, reuniting with their beloved baby. After just a few hours getting settled with his parents, he was off searching for a job. And guess what? He returned several hours with one! Oh happy day!

One year later, in their 25th year, they made the same journey eastward. The woman, succumbing to homesickness, implored her husband to take her home. Being the agreeable type, he did. This time, their now 2 year old boy accompanied them, playing in the back of the Corolla. And he was talking for the first time in his little life. Complete sentences even. Just before leaving the promised land, the couple discovered that their little family would be expanding. As they drove into the state of Florida, the woman began feeling queasy, something that would continue for the next six months. At the time, they had no idea that instead of a family of four, they would soon be expanding to a family of five. That is a story for another time.

Once again, he found a job and he's been working hard ever since.

Now, 32 years later, the couple, in their 57th year, find themselves preparing for another road trip, albeit one in polar opposite weather conditions. This time, they will be the parents that help their young son transition to a new life. Let us hope that their son finds work as quickly as his father did, once upon a time.

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