Friday, September 14, 2012

See the USA

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Do you remember the Dinah Shore Show in the 1950s? A variety show sponsored by Chevrolet, it had this as its theme song.

So what would it be like to see the USA in a Chevrolet, or any other vehicle, for that matter?

The summer I turned 21 our family piled into the station wagon, pulling a rather-small-for-the-family travel trailer and headed off for Colorado on a Thursday. We were slow travelers, but our only commitment was to be in Fort Collins by Monday afternoon, when IYC (International Youth Conference) would begin. My three siblings would be campers and I would be a counselor. After camp finished we followed the Million Dollar Highway through the Rockies, toured the cave dwellings at Mesa Verde, looked over the edge at Grand Canyon, survived a flash flood, and played at Disneyland. We saw the West. We dawdled; we explored; we saw a little local museum or two; we sang; we really enjoyed the trip.

In 1995, now married with two pre-schoolers, we made two cross country trips. The first one took us from our home in Western New York to Seattle -- by driveaway. Now there's a way to see the country! (Driveaway companies provide a way to get your vehicle to a certain destination, and for someone to drive it for you without cost, except for gas. It is a service to both the owner and the driver of the vehicle.)  Our situation was tricky -- planning a route that would allow a family of four to get clear across the country. It meant we'd have to go a bit out of the way, but it was what we wanted to do.

We picked up a brand new van in Buffalo that needed to be delivered to Indianapolis. Woohoo, I thought, we'll see the country in style! But when Tom went into the office to exchange vehicles in Indianapolis, he was assigned an older car in rather poor shape, a repo that a bank in Nebraska wanted back. Our next vehicle, to be delivered to Bremerton, was a beater of a van, another repo!

We did see the country on that trip, but it was mostly a blur to me. We were on our way back to the Northwest to explore the possibility of a move home. As it turned out, we ended up leaving the boys with my parents and flying back to New York, packing up our house, and seeing the USA again, east coast to west, from the seat of a 24-foot U-Haul (or was it 26 feet?). It was a less stressful trip than the one just a month before. Now that I say that, it may have been plenty stressful for Tom, as he did all the driving, manipulating the monster truck through toll booths and over mountain passes. We never had a problem until we were a block away from the destination, refilling the gas tank, and we backed into a corner we nearly couldn't get out of.

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So why all this reminiscing today about road trips? Well, yesterday I read about two brothers from Belgium who came up with a unique way to see the USA -- by Segway! Twenty-six-year-old Pierre-Jean de Stexhe and his brother Remy (18) left Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 10 and pulled in to Edmonds, Washington, two days ago, September 12, a trip of nearly 2000 miles. Pierre-Jean, partially paralyzed in a ski accident in 2006, loves to travel. Now his trips are by Segway. Other friends have traveled with him on his past trips (the French Pyrenees in 2008, the Rockies in 2009, and Norfolk, Virginia to Omaha Nebraska in 2011) but this is the first year for his brother Remy to join him.

They are able to ride about 40-45 miles a day before they must stop to charge the Segway batteries. They have stayed in churches and in homes of people they've met along the way. They document their trips on the website, Segway Travellers. I just wish I'd know they were coming; I would have loved to meet them.

Have you seen the USA today -- by car, van, U-Haul, bicycle, wheel chair, Segway? If you haven't, isn't it time to? Even a Sunday afternoon drive would be good. See what's happening outside your door! It's going to be a beautiful weekend, so go outside and see the USA!

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