School is FINALLY out! I’ve turned in my grades, and I’ve put at least a dent in some of the honey-do household chores. Now I’m going to do something I’ve been wanting to do since high school – take a car trip across the United States of America.
During our senior year in high school, my buddy Reggie Barnett and I talked about taking this trip, but we never did. He was headed to Notre Dame on a football scholarship, and I was starting my engineering college and co-op experience at General Motors Institute (now Kettering Institute). Our cross-country adventure got lost in the shuffle, a casualty of the new lives we were embarking upon.
I almost took the trip several years later. I had been working at Bell Labs in New Jersey for a couple of years when my fiance’ (ex-wife Diane) received a job offer from UCLA. I interviewed with the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica and received a job offer. I was excited to be California-bound, and was planning that cross-country road trip, when UCLA called Diane and rescinded the offer. Bummer! I ended up staying at Bell Labs, and the road trip was once again banished to the dustbin of my mind.
Fast-forward thirty-seven years. During all those years, I’ve usually felt “too busy” to make the drive. Working at Bell Labs, starting a business, raising kids, selling the business, starting a community service organization, moving back to Michigan, writing a book, teaching at U-M – anything and everything caused me to defer my cross-country dream trip.
Why now? It’s about time, don’t you think? I can’t count on being able to do this forever. I’m inspired by my wife Kishna’s grandfather, who made the trip solo several times during his tenth decade. He died in February, shortly after his 101st birthday. This one’s for you, Robert Crowder.
So in a few days, barring some major diversion, I’ll be off. I’m going to stop and see a few friends along the way. Finally see Mount Rushmore. Buy my editor Tom a glass of ‘yak in Omaha. Visit my son Aaron in San Francisco. Drive down the Pacific Coast Highway and see Kishna’s folks in LA. Have a leisurely lunch at the R&D Cafe in Santa Monica, and maybe dinner at The Lobster on Santa Monica Pier. See my buddy Al Thompson in Rancho Cucamonga before heading through the desert to Vegas and Hoover Dam. Hit Yellowstone and Bryce Canyon and the big one. Maybe race the GTI across the Bonneville Salt Flats. Maybe not.
Wish me luck. I’ll be posting pictures, notes, and maybe a few videos along the way. As my illustrious uncle Emerald Hayden used to say, Adios, M…well, just adios.