The Final Road Trip

| July 15, 2010 | Comments (9)

So we’re packing up the car-top carrier and hitting the road for what is most likely our last whole-family vacation. My daughter heads off to college in the fall and I know our lives will never be the same, so this is it — the ultimate (def. #2, adj. – being the last or concluding element of a series) vacation. That’s a lot of pressure on six people in an eight-year-old minivan (aka Bessy).

This time, it’s not our semi-annual trek to visit the grandparents in Florida. No, we are taking an honest-to-goodness two-and-a-half week car vacation from Chicago to Seattle and back, complete with my stepson’s wedding smack dab in the middle. Door-to-door-to-door, it’s 4,132 miles, but that doesn’t count all the little side steps my husband has planned along the way.

In preparation, we took Bessy (whose odometer already sports 120,000 miles) in for  a complete checkup. One new muffler/tailpipe combo and $403 later, our trusted mechanic swears she will get us there AND back. In a brilliant move by my DH, we are shipping our rehearsal dinner/wedding ensembles out ahead of us so we don’t have to share limited car space with four suits, four dresses and eight pairs of dress shoes. (Don’t do the math — girls have to wear different dresses and different shoes to each event — it’s a law.)

We also joined AAA for the first time, and in the first argument debate of the trip, my husband is driving me crazy because he insists on calling it “A  A  A” instead of “Triple A” like a normal person. This does not bode well. The TripTiks of my youth, however, have been completely updated with cool techno tools that let you drop additional stops right into your itinerary, avoid construction delays, and even find the best fuel prices en route.

Call us crazy (most people do), but we’re kind of looking forward to it. We’re doing the whole Western American shebang — Mt. Rushmore; Glacier, Badlands and Yellowstone National Parks; whale watching off the San Juan Islands; and maybe, if we’re lucky, the world’s largest ball of twine. You just can’t put a price on experiences like that.

I’m not a complete Pollyanna. Four adolescents and two adults stuck in close proximity for weeks on end is likely to produce a freakin’ horror show some tension. If we get away with one third great, one third miserable and one third tolerable, I will consider the trip a huge success.

Still, there’s a nagging sense of melancholy hanging over my anxiety anticipation. All these changes — the graduations and the weddings and the goings off to college, they’re all happening too fast. I don’t want this to be the last family road trip.

Oh wait. Three weeks after we get back, I’ll be driving the girl from Chicago to Massachusetts for freshman orientation, so I guess it’s not the last road trip after all. Just another 1,848 miles on the ol’ odometer. Don’t worry, though. Bessy and I are up for it.

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Travel

About Alma K: Alma started her personal blog,, in 2006--right around the time her firstborn began speaking in sentences. She now has two girls, 5 and 3, and lives in a 100 year old house in Oak Park. Husband Josh works from home part-time, which makes the juggle of working full time as a creative at a large downtown ad shop that much easier. The daughter of a Foreign Service officer, Alma spent her childhood moving from place to place. She moved to Chicago for college at age 18 and never left. If it wasn't for the winters, she'd never dream of leaving. Follow Alma on Twitter @marketingmommy. View author profile.

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Lisa Romeo says:

    Wow – you are brave! Sounds like it will be a blast, that is, in between it being a nightmare. Seriously though I LOVE road trips and will opt for driving almost anytime never mind the miles. Wishing you a safe trip. Enjoy.

  2. Susan @ 2KoP says:

    Thanks, Lisa. I’m sure we can use all the luck we can get.

  3. Lisa says:

    good luck. we haven’t braved a true road tips in 4 years (and one less child) but are planning a trip for last next winter (winter ’11-’12). I can’t imagine the feelings of change on top of trip planning though. And with mine being 2 6 and 7, we won’t even talk about college etc as my older two just went on an overnight SHORT road trip with my stepdad yesterday and I can’t believe how hard that was on me!!

  4. Susan @ 2KoP says:

    Hi, Lisa. Every step toward separation is hard, but you still won’t believe how fast the “Big” ones arrive. My kids are intrepid road trippers, so we have that going for us.

  5. Oh my gosh, I’m right there with you. We’re going on our last family vacation next month, before my son goes off to college. I hope to have a couple more family trips in the next couple years, but since he’ll be in college most of the year, even if we all go together it won’t be entirely the same. *sniff*

  6. Susan @ 2KoP says:

    Melisa — THIS is not the thing I thought would be causing me so much angst about the whole college thing, but here we are. It makes me nervous about all the other little goodbyes over the next 2 months.

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.