Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road Trip

I found myself staring at my suitcase, camera and sneakers this afternoon desperately wanting to pack them. Tomorrow, Nancy and I were supposed to leave on our 5th annual "Sisters' Road Trip". Sadly, that nasty cancer thing has cancelled that for us this year. Maybe I'll just haul the camper over to Nancy's in the morning and we can sit in it and drink Tab in her driveway!

We started our road trips as accidental tourists in 2004. On a whim, we decided that August to take what we called our "Memory Lane Trip". When we were kids, our Dad had a job which required him to be transferred frequently and we moved often. So...Nancy and I decided that we would visit each of the houses and towns we had lived in while we were growing up and try to recapture the memories. We started out in Newington, Connecticut where we lived from 1951 until 1956. A few years after Dad returned from WWII, he and "Grampa Smith" started building a cape cod house by contractors for them. Nancy was born while we lived in this house. We shared memories of the walking dolls we all got for Christmas in that house and of sitting under the little tree Mom & Dad had planted in the yard (needless to say, it's huge now) looking for four-leaf clovers, collecting Japanese beetles in jars of soap suds, and making flowers out of pastel-colored Kleenex tissues. In fact, it was at that house that I clearly remember going through my Elvis phase...I didn't look much better in a cinch belt then than I would now!

After Newington, we drove on to Westport, Connecticut to visit the home we lived in from 1956 to 1961. That house held tons of happy memories for us. It was then that we were all in our pre-Olympic figure skating phase; we skated hour after hour in the pond out back in matching tights, skating skirts and stocking caps. As Paris Hilton might say, we were pretty sure that we looked "hot”! Nancy, being the youngest at the time, was always skating her hardest to keep up with Andi and I; we have old movies of her puffing and panting as she stumbled on the ice behind us, yelling and scowling at us to "wait up". Meanwhile, I was on to my Frankie Avalon and Fabian phases.

Our next move was to Vestal, New York, outside of Binghamton, which at that time seemed to us like moving to the ends of the earth. So Nancy and I drove up there stopping at Howe Caverns on the way to relive our spelunking stage. During that time, I remember that Nancy was in elementary school in Vestal and hated her teacher...the nastier the teacher was, the nastier Nancy was right back. Could this havebeen what inspired Nancy to become an elementary school teacher herself? Her chance to get even? And me...I was in my Bob Dylan stage by then.

After Vestal, we drove back to New England and stopped in Guilford, Connecticut...our next family move. We loved our big yellow house there and it was fun to see it again. Guilford brought back memories of neighborhood block parties, Checkerberry milkshakes, and, for me, high school graduation.

And what Memory Lane Trip would not be complete without a final stop at Kennebunk Beach where we lived when Nancy and Andi were in high school. Dad renovated and winterized a big old summer cottage there, steps from the beach, and we loved it. At Kennebunk High School, Andi was named salutatorian and Nancy - God love her - was named... Class Clown. She was also head cheerleader at KHS and, believe me, she kept her squad in line!Our 2004 Memory Lane Trip was so much fun that we decided to make an August road trip an annual event.

In 2005, we took Andi with us and spent three days exploring the Mohawk trail through Massachusetts and New York. Our 2006 trip took us to the Finger Lakes region of New York State where we traveled through beautiful old towns, visited wineries, followed the trail of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, and visited the Women’s' History Museum to pay respect to the suffragettes. At Elmira College, we visited the Mark Twain exhibit and the summer home in which he wrote. It was another great trip.In 2007, Hank and I bought our new little orange teardrop trailer, the
t@b, so Nancy and I decided that we would do a camping vacation. We headed up to Searsport to what is now my favorite campground, Searsport Shores. It was my first time taking the trailer without a "man" to hook it up but Nancy and I amazed ourselves with our emerging mechanical abilities. (Hank: the tire is fine…really!)

This year, we had hoped to go to Bar Harbor and Searsport again on our road trip and had booked a campsite from tomorrow through next Tuesday. Thoughts of quiet afternoons reading by the ocean in Searsport and sitting at Jordon Pond eating popovers until we burst filled our heads. So maybe tomorrow, in addition to our Tab, we’ll bring our books and a batch of hot popovers out to the camper in Nancy’s driveway, yell “So there, Cancer!”, and imagine that we’re on the road again for road trip 2008. Just think of all the gas we’ll save!

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