May 9: Pins in a Map

I’ve been excited about this trip since I first heard about it four months ago, but until now it seemed like a far-off, intangible thing. It still felt that way when Madison and I pulled into our dad’s driveway in Wilson to talk with Paw-paw about the trip: where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see.

My granddad was in the military for a large part of his life. He served in the Navy during World War II, and then moved to the Army Air Corps (later to become the Air Force) for Korea and Vietnam. Being a career military man, he is used to planning, order and flawless execution. While I had been lazily daydreaming about where I wanted to go this summer, he had been formulating a complete itinerary that would take us around the country.

At first I didn’t realize how much he had planned out this trip. Before and during dinner, we were talking abstractly about cities he was interested in seeing for different reasons: New Orleans, San Antonio, Albuquerque.

After dinner, I realized how developed his game-plan was. He whipped out a U.S. map with about 20 little blue push-pins stuck in major cities around the country. Beside it was a road atlas and a map of the eastern U.S. He had obviously spent hours going over the maps to decide which places he really wanted us to see. He was stationed all around the country has virtually seen it all. My sister and I have never gone across the Mississippi River…never come close to it, really. Think of this as his greatest hits compilation for us.

His intense planning did leave some leeway, though. The blue pins represent high points. The time in between is flexible and open to suggestions and whims. Plans could change based on time restraints or unexpected detours. (You can see the high points of the trip in the itinerary section of the website, and also keep up with the trip log, which will show where we are on any given day.)

After talking for a couple of hours (and detouring into a political conversation that I know Madison enjoyed…) we had the framework of our road-trip down: we would leave Wilson June 10 (the day after Madison gets out of school) and, for the most part follow the blue push-pins that Paw-paw had laid out for us (itinerary). The return date is up in the air and depends on how quickly we get from place to place. The last possible end date is July 21, since Madison and I will be flying out to San Francisco on the 23rd.

When we left Wilson, I was almost giddy (yes, giddy) with excitement. What had been essentially a hypothetical for so many months was finally a concrete thing. I knew where we were going. I knew exactly when we were leaving.

Things were starting to happen, and it was exciting.

In less than one month, that black Cadillac, loaded with a few pairs of clothes, a cooler of food and three eager passengers, will finally pull out of the garage.


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15 responses to “May 9: Pins in a Map

  1. Vanessa

    You should definitely go to the Grand Tetons National Park while in WY. It is pretty close to Yellowstone and is beautiful.

  2. Corey

    Good call. I forgot about the Grand Tetons…I’ll look into it.

  3. Dad

    This looks really good!!!!

  4. Jeff

    This looks like a great trip. If you have the time and want to break up the trip from SoCal to Seattle you can’t go wrong with a stop at Crater Lake in Southern Oregon or a side trip to Mt. St. Helens in WA. It’s only 96 miles from Seattle and besides, how many times do you get to see a volcano up close?

  5. Mom

    This site is awesome. I cannot wait to keep up with you! I am gonna miss you!

  6. Super job on getting us all pumped for your trip and allowing us to interact while you are still here to help with issues. Speaking of issues — I tried to send you a comment last week and it did not work –Problem at work is that I tried to send a comment last week and got an error message. They may be blocking my comments back to the website.Problem at home is I cannot pull up the website. (Could be operator error!!) But I can access it at work. I am going to try and send this hope it gets through !! You really did a fine job on the website. Really looking forward to tracking you two all over the country, What a great experience!!

  7. Susan

    If this isn’t the coolest thing ever! I haven’t been many places, but Sedona AZ at sunset is an awesome sight to behold.
    Love you both.

    Your favorite ; )

  8. I agree with Susan on Sedona !! At any rate, enjoy your time with your grandfather. You will look back on this summer and treasure those moments!!

  9. Parunak

    You would compare a trip to an album…”greatest hits compilation”. See you tomorrow on the course, and hope you have safe travels!

  10. Meredith

    Hey this sounds amazing while you are going through South Dakota stop by Crazy Horse and Devils tower too. Oh and try to see Creator Lake when you are driving through Oregon to get to Seattle.
    have a blast I’ll keep looking in and If I have any other suggestions that seem to be on the way I’ll let you know.

    p.s. buy a national parks card It will save you a ton of money if you go to more than one National park.

  11. BON VOYAGE !! BE SAFE and have a wonderful time!! By the way I can access the website at home now — THANKS!!

  12. Mom

    Hey kids and Paw Paw!!! Another suggestion from a friend of Susan and Jeff—Glacier National Park in Idaho! I miss ya’ll already, but I am so excited for you! Love ya!!!

  13. Liz and Chris

    Hi guys

    Wow what an awesome trip. Have a fantastic time enjoy every moment and take plenty of photos!!
    Love ya Chris and Liz xxx

  14. Susan

    Thanks to Jane for posting the message I sent her but I was wrong about Glacier National Park being in Idaho…it’s in Montana. I’m sure there’s beautiful parks in Idaho though…like Sweet Potato National Park and Russett National Park..hahahaha…love you!

  15. Mom

    Tony wants to know if you get close to Blytheville, Arkansas—see if they’ve erected a plaque to mark his birthplace!!! Hey —no gambling!!!! Loved the entry for today! It makes me laugh!!! Tell Madison to start singing in the back seat!!!! Love you all!!!

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