For the 10 or 15 years I’ve driven cross country from San Francisco to New England (making many stops along the way) every summer and every Christmas. If you’ve read some of my other road trip blog posts, you already know that these trips are probably some of the happiest times I’ve ever experienced…
Hawaii’s “Big Island” was the first of the Hawaiian islands I ever visited, way back in 1994. That trip began a 25 year love affair with Hawaii, and while Maui remains my favorite island, I have a special place in my soul reserved for the still volcanically active Big Island.
I recounted by eastbound road trip in On The Road Again, and my beautiful New England Christmas in My 12 Days of Christmas, so technically, this is Part 3 of a trilogy! Hey, it’s not Lord of the Rings, I’m not Tolkien and I’m not a hobbit… but this IS about a great travel adventure, so…
After a successful and enjoyable cross country drive in mid-December, I was back in Massachusetts and I awoke on the morning of the 24th to find a thin coating of snow covering everything outside. As I was taking in the scene from the window of my little rented cabin in the woods, I got a text message from my friend Joanne saying, “You did it again! Where did this damned snow come from?”
My father left my mother and me when I was a baby and I only met him once briefly when I was 16, I become more convinced of the power of genetics when I think about how my father was a long distance trucker for most of his life after divorcing my mother. When I did meet him, he told me how much he liked being out on the road for long periods of time, as was required by his job. So I wonder if other than the red hair that I absolutely adopted from him, I also possess a gene he passed down that explains why I am seldom happier than when I embark on yet another cross-country drive.
Not unlike a salmon fighting its way upstream to return to the place where it was born, I go through considerable effort to make an annual pilgrimage to my native New England in October to experience the most wonderful time of year to be there: fall foliage season. Typically lasting from mid-September to mid or late October, the change in the foliage that occurs in the northeastern USA is an event that attracts tourists from all over the world and until I can manage to live back there permanently, I will continue to travel back for at least a few days to experience the show.
I’m truly the king of road trips, having first driven cross country when I was 18. Since then I’ve made at least 30 round-trips from coast to coast. But by far my most ambitious journey was in summer of 2005 when I drove east from San Francisco to Boston via Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia. On the westward return trip, I drove as far west as Montana, took a sharp right turn and drove to Alaska before working my way back down the coast to California. During the trip I kept a detailed journal of my experience, and so ride along with me on an adventure to our most remote and northern state.
After a wonderful Christmas holiday in New England, it was time to head back across country. It is always hard for me to say goodbye to so many friends there and return to the routine of another semester of teaching, but when I saw that a huge winter storm was barreling up the coast… not just ANY storm, mind you, but something called a “bomb cyclone”!
The popular song, “No Place Like Home For the Holidays” was published in 1954 and was made famous by singer Perry Como in 1959. The lyrics talk about our desire to be home for the holidays, especially at Christmas time:
I met a man who lives in Tennessee, and he was headin’ for
Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie.
From Pennsylvania folks are travelin’ down to Dixie’s sunny shore…
From Atlantic to Pacific…Gee, the traffic is terrific!
Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,
If you want to be happy in a million ways,
For the holidays – you can’t beat home, sweet home…