Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 10:51 pm | Fair 58º


Tim Durnin: Pulling Out All the Stops for Family’s First Road Trip

My wife is starting to feel adventurous again — 16 years after treacherous honeymoon trek

My marriage started with a road trip. The day after our wedding my new wife and I hit the highway. A strong indicator of how that trip turned out is revealed in my confession that, in 16 years of marriage, we haven’t been on another.

My children have grown up without the family piling into a car and hitting the road for an extended period. They have missed the endless hours of highway passed in boredom and discomfort — the hallmarks of my youthful summers.

The memories of our honeymoon have cured now, and my wife has finally relented. Necessity and convenience conspired against her, and we are preparing to embark on our family’s first road trip. I can hardly contain myself.

I grew up imagining waking before first light and taking my own family on trips. In my dreams I would travel by my rules. I promised my future children I would stop when they wanted, needed and sometimes for no reason at all.

I pledged that I would never drive past “The Thing,” Stuckey’s or Flintstones Village. My children would experience all of the things I could only imagine as these sights flew by me through my back seat window.

In my early travels my father was driven to reach his final destination like a moth to precious light. Only the need for fuel and sustenance could sway him from the road, and even then begrudgingly.

My sisters and I were packed away in the back seat like luggage with the understanding we were to endure the trip without comment or expectation. In all of our travels we were never surprised by spontaneous adventure.

I hold some enduring memories from those travels. I can still smell bologna sandwiches smothered in yellow mustard. These were washed down with tepid water from a 2½- gallon, red and white Coleman thermos. Bruised apples and aging oranges complemented our pauper’s feasts.

Road trips today are, of course, different. My children will travel with a DVD player, iPads and our neurotic dog, R2-D2. He alone is distraction and entertainment enough. And while I can’t duplicate my own tortured travels, I do hope to capture the nostalgia that is engendered by such experiences.

Our itinerary will take us the length of the West Coast, through eight states and home through Las Vegas. We will have extended stays in Seattle, Salt Lake and in Cedar City for the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

This will be a 2,000-mile jaunt through some of the most beautiful and picturesque landscapes in the western United States, including Puget Sound, numerous national forests, Zion National Park and an obligatory trip to Hoover Dam.

Unlike the spontaneous treks that marked our honeymoon, I have been directed to plan ahead. The hotel reservations have been made, a house sitter secured, and I have given my vow not to leave the beaten path. It was such a diversion that was my undoing 16 years ago.

It was an August evening in Las Vegas, and I had the brilliant idea to drive at night to beat the heat. My new wife and I turned off Highway 95 to cross the Sierras some place north of Las Vegas. The road was on the map, but I still don’t know why.

We ended up scaling the Sierras on a single lane, dirt road that took us through herds of cattle, beyond any visible or recognizable civilization and into the set of a made-for-TV movie. The story line followed the last, tragic days of a newlywed couple lost in the Sierras.

We reached the peak after midnight. Our descent into California was nothing short of treacherous. Three times I had to get out of the car to be sure I would not send us into a free fall down the sheer mountain face. I imagined my new bride was having some serious regrets.

Those regrets found their voice when we finally climbed into bed at 5 a.m. As is her nature, she had few words. Placing her head on the pillow facing away from me, she said simply, “Never again.”

At the risk of gloating, I knew she didn’t really mean it. But I didn’t expect it would take 16 years for her to soften. Regardless, we are heading out. The bologna sandwiches are made and the Coleman thermos is filled with lukewarm water.

I plan to share some of the lessons and learning from our travels over the next several weeks. I hope you will join me on the road.

— Tim Durnin is a father, husband and serves as chief operating officer for Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for comments, discussion, criticism, suggestions and story ideas.

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