Unless you just won the lottery, you’re probably concerned about rising fuel costs. (And if you did win the lottery, then why are you wasting your time reading this when you could be out having fun?) Not only has it gotten much more expensive to fill our gas tanks, but a lot of other things are being affected too — either directly or indirectly.
I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know, but it’s getting so much coverage in the media that it did get me to thinking about one event that’s certainly being affected — the road trip. and that inevitably leads me to thoughts of my childhood, and family driving trips in the days of 30-cent gas.
Actually the price of gas at that time – when adjusted for inflation – was probably not that different than now, but I don’t remember my parents being too concerned about our fuel costs. Even after I got old enough to occasionally be trusted with sharing the driving, I still don’t remember gas being an issue. (Of course I wasn’t paying for it, and was generally clueless at that time.)
What I do remember is how we traveled. We would have a general destination in mind, but sometimes change routes during the trip because we were flexible, and the trip was the thing — not necessarily the destination. We’d watch for interesting sights advertised on roadside signs and sometimes detour to see the proverbial giant ball of twine or something equally amazing.
We also didn’t make motel reservations ahead of time, not only because it just wasn’t done that often in those days but because we weren’t really sure where we’d be that night. Usually, we’d just start watching for a decent-looking motel as it got toward evening. There weren’t nearly as many national chains at that time (especially economical ones), but stopping at small independents meant that my Mom would have to go into the office and get a key to look at a room before we rented it. Sounds funny now but very common then.
But in spite of all that, it was still an adventure, especially if I started using my imagination and day-dreaming about someday taking bigger trips, and as I look back on it I’m reminded of – surprise – a song. I was a fan of Ricky Nelson (as I’ve written before) and one of his biggest hits always comes to mind when I remember those road trips: “Travelin’ Man”