BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
J.R. Tolkien wrote in his book ‘The Lord of the Rings’, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”
The above quote was spoken by Bilbo Baggins to his nephew Frodo. If you have read Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’, you know that both Bilbo and Frodo had incredible and almost insufferable epic adventures.
For some, a 12 day long road trip with multiple passengers, especially children, is not what they would exactly consider pleasurable and may even consider it insufferable.
First there are the long hours behind the wheel with constant bathroom stops. Then after a few days there is the growing feeling of being cooped up.
What follows after that is the real test of the travelers’ faith. The fussing, groaning, and grumbling begins to mount and decisions about where to eat get harder and then there is the unpacking and packing every morning and evening.
Each day every passenger grows a little more tired and the riding fatigue begins to take its toll.
The only thing that keeps every one going is the goal. As usual, in our case, there are always several.
Every year since 2017, I have taken trips West with my girlfriend Kristy Houston and at least two of her three children.
The first two years were to southwest Colorado. They were mostly camping type trips with day ventures to scenic sites such as Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Arches, and the Great Sand Dunes National Parks.
In 2019, we made our annual excursion into a genuine road trip of 5800 miles in 11 days. We traveled through 15 states and visited Dinosaur National Monument, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Golden Arches National Parks.
In 2020, we wanted to make a trip to the west coast, but COVID put a stop to that and we settled for quiet trip to southwest Colorado again for some camping and scenic drives.
For 2021, with COVID restrictions being lifted, we planned a 12 day trek that would cover 6700 miles.
The main goal was to make it to the Pacific and travel part of U.S. Highway 101. Our secondary goal was to see as many national parks and sites as we could fit along the way.
We pulled out of Greenville on Wednesday, June 9, at 10:30 p.m. and arrived back 12 days and two hours later, just past midnight on Tuesday, June 22, weary eyed and plain wore out.
I think everyone gave a great big sigh and said under their breaths, “Finally, we’re home.”
Our trip covered 12 states and eight national parks. They included Mesa Verde (Colorado); Canyonlands (Utah); Mt. Rainier (Washington); Redwoods, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia (California); and Petrified Forest (Arizona).
It also included part of the scenic Pacific coast drive on U.S. Highway 101 from Lincoln City, Ore., to Arcata, Calif. We then made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, and eventually to the Hoover Dam.
Needless to say we saw two major cities and many of what you might call bigger cities along our trip.
Would I do it again? It is a question that will always be replied to with a yes.
The open road and sights you see on long excursions are unforgettable, and they quickly put an end to any questions of whether the trip was worth the effort.
Every curve and hill can present you with a vista of unimaginable belief. I can tell you that in all my trips the next hill is the real goal, just to see what lies next.
The feeling might be explained best by the country singer Maren Morris who says in her song ‘My Church’,
“Can I get a hallelujah;
Can I get an amen;
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya;
When I play the highway FM;
I find my soul revival;
Singing every single verse;
Yeah I guess that’s my church.”
I hope everyone had a memorable 4th of July which was spent with family and friends.
And, when you have a chance, take that long road trip.