Son’s long trip brings back exhausting on-the-road memories |

Son’s long trip brings back exhausting on-the-road memories

My son, Matt, moved to San Diego a couple of weeks ago. But last Saturday morning he was sleeping in my living room when I got up. 

It seems he promised a friend he would go to her father’s wedding in Denver. She lives in Phoenix and he still lives in San Diego.

He said she drove to San Diego and picked him up. They drove straight through to Summit County and he ended up in my living room decompressing after the trip.

And they say that youth is wasted on the young. As far as I am concerned, the young can have youth if they are going to punish themselves like that.

Matt left late Monday with the same trip in mind. His friend was going to drive him to San Diego and then go back to Phoenix.

I got tired just thinking about it.

When I first went into the Air Force, I would drive from Iowa to New York City straight through. I remember being stopped one time in Pennsylvania for speeding. The trooper gave me a break when he saw my uniform hanging in the back. He told me to go to the next rest stop and sleep for a while. He might have saved my life.

On another trip, I had stopped for gas in Ohio and some flight attendants saw how wiped out I was and offered to drive me to New York. True story.

They drove while I slept. I woke up in a parking lot at LaGuardia airport. They had disappeared and yes, I still had my wallet. They probably saved my life, too.

I once drove from my home in Macon, Ga., straight through to my parents’ house in northern Iowa. It took me almost 40 hours of nonstop driving through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Iowa.

I began to hallucinate at one point and actually saw road signs walking across the road. I am lucky to still be alive.

I was stationed at Mitchell Air Force Base, New York, when it closed in 1961. The entire staff of the base was transferred to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Almost every weekend we would drive from Georgia back to New York City. 

We would drive all night long and arrive early Saturday morning, spend the day and night and then drive back on Sunday. I don’t even want to think about how many miles or how many hours were involved. All I know is we were driving on caffeine and adrenaline.

Keep in mind this was in 1960 before there were any interstate highways and all two-lane roads through the Deep South.

Part of my apprehension was that we were always speeding through small towns and we had New York license plates on the car.

We never got stopped.

I drove from New York City to Denver once straight through. It reminded me of the movie “Vanishing Point.” You don’t drive a car at that point. It just takes you in the direction it is headed. Children: Don’t try this at home.

For many years, I would drive from Summit County straight through to my parents home in Iowa in 14 hours. I would normally drive overnight so the kids could sleep and I could obsess about driving. 

My wife ended up with an enlarged bladder after those trips. Regardless whether I would stop or not, the trip would always be the same distance. It was always 848 miles if I drove at night or in the daytime.

 As I got older, I stopped driving at night and only went during the day. I would actually stop for bathrooms and even ate lunch or dinner. Funny how much more pleasant the trip was.

Life has so many twists and turns, not unlike the roads we drive. I think my road trip experiences proved the point that God looks after drunks and fools. I was one of the fools.

Gary Lindstrom road trips through life and Summit County issues these days by virtue of his regular Summit Daily News column, appearing every Thursday.

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