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.