It seems like we spent lots of time in the car when I was little. I remember lots of road trips. Daddy would drive, whether we went in the car, truck, motorhome or boat. His arm slung across the steering wheel, his thumb tapping each finger in time to a tune. Sometimes, the tune would be an old country or rock song playing on the radio but other times, it would be a tune in his head that manifested itself through his fingers. And most times, he would sing along. Now this doesn’t seem too bad, but Daddy is like me, couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. We heard his versions of “Blueberry Hill,” “Down in the Valley,” and any Elvis tune that ever played. Now I can hear the opening bars of some of these songs and still cringe waiting for him to begin singing.
When we all became bored of the singing, he would begin to tell us stories. Stories of the places on the road, places we were going, even stories about road signs. One of my favorites was the story behind the fallen rock zone signs. I don’t know if they have these signs outside of Kentucky but around here we have many since most of our roads are cut through hills and mountains. Daddy began to tell us this story one night in the car. He said that once upon a time, a little Indian girl named Fallen Rock had gotten lost in the woods. Her family then posted these signs so people would look for her and perhaps bring her back home. We fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I still smile every time I pass one of these signs. I have since told the stories to my kids. They love them too.
I remember when the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway had toll booths scattered along the way. Any time we traveled from our house to Mamaw’s and Papaw’s, we would have to pass through these. We would watch for these landmarks to mark our journey. I can’t remember the exact amount of change it took to pass through them but I can remember Mommy and Daddy counting change out before we would reach the small buildings. Daddy would roll down his window, the scent of his cologne blowing back to tease our noses. His arm would snake out the window and the light would reflect from his wedding ring as he flipped those coins down into the basket.
Now, as I drive down the road with my children, I remember these things and mourn the things that they will never get to experience. Like riding down the road in the back of the pickup truck or riding in the very back of the station wagon. Or riding in the top bed of a truck camper as we head to the lake. Sometimes I think everyone is so worried about safety that they take the fun out of life. Hopefully each of you can remember something wonderful about road trips when you were young.