Dads and driving vacations

Marvin Bond

It was an iconic American scene: dad in the driver’s seat with the family in the car, all headed out on a driving vacation. If you’re of a certain age, you undoubtedly have a similar memory, whether your trip was to the beach, the mountains, to visit family, or to head out for the road trip of a lifetime.

My father was a minister and we lived some distance from family. That meant we spent a good bit of time on the road visiting them. But there were other road trips as well, including one cross-country journey to California and back. It was the summer of 1962; the interstate system was still in its infancy and air travel was more of a luxury than the necessity it seems to be today.

Editor Marvin Bond
Editor Marvin Bond

We had planned the month-long trip with an aunt, uncle, and cousin. Dad had purchased a new car and even had those newfangled seat belts installed. Our excitement grew as the departure date neared, but I knew Dad’s excitement was at a peak when he read his last sermon to the congregation. I’d never heard him read a sermon verbatim in my life!

That vacation, more than a half-century ago, still stands out in my mind and the minds of my cousin and my aunt, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday. We can still recall moments and activities from the trip that make us feel closer to my parents and my uncle who are no longer with us.

I can think of nothing that bridges the generation gap or provides more lasting memories than the travel experiences we share with those we love.

In the fast-paced world we inhabit today, when Americans leave substantial amounts of vacation time unused and trip planning is often just a few minutes on a website, I heartily recommend taking stock of that iconic American scene. Put dad in the driver’s seat. Pile everybody else in the car. Find your road trip, whether it’s a day trip to go tubing, a weekend getaway to a theme park, or a vacation at the beach or a mountain lake. Or, start planning now for that road trip of a lifetime.

Recreation News and are great resources to help with that planning. Each month we uncover new destinations, events, and itineraries for you to check out. Most get you out of the urban/suburban sphere in which most of us live and expose us to something different. In virtually every issue you have your choice of a variety of activities and locales. Dad would have approved.

Dad’s been gone six years this month (he almost made it to 100), but I can still see him at the wheel, pointing out Grandfather Mountain as we traveled in western North Carolina or paying the toll on the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike. Somehow, it keeps him closer.

Not to say that mom can’t do the driving today, but, hey, it’s Father’s Day, right?

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