How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I recently returned from a fine, energizing—albeit debilitating—road trip which served as my 2010 summer vacation. Originally, I had wanted to scrawl out some private travel notes so my aging brain could remember it at a later time, but then I thought, “What the hell? Why not give everyone a dose of my literary narcotic.” So, here I am, giving you the sleeping pill you knew you needed.

Accordingly, I have decided to break up the travelogue into individual posts for each day of the journey. I will post pieces as I complete them. Just watch the category “Summer Vacation” for new installments. Of course, as I add segments, I will link them in succession.

I have to say that this summer vacation road trip differed from previous ones because it was not a solo sojourn or a bi-geekal man-o-rama. Artificially Sweetened (hereinafter referred to as AS), my friend, companion, and consort of the past three and a half years, whose schedule has heretofore precluded taking lengthy trips together, finally was able to join me for one. This one would work out to be about ten days. As our planning discussions progressed, we included AS’s oldest offspring, Cupcake. The other two kids were going to be visiting Grandpa during the same period.

Cupcake, Artificially Sweetened, and The Nittany Turkey
Cupcake, Artificially Sweetened, and The Nittany Turkey

Thus having established the “who”, “when”, and “why”, I took over the planning. I tried to ask AS about various options several times, but most of the time I got the same response: “We’ll go where you want to go.” I wondered if they would be happy with the non-spectacular agenda I had in mind. Although I was pretty sure that AS would like whatever I liked, I was concerned that Cupcake, a tech savvy vixen who is fourteen going on 21, would be bored out of her skull. However, AS told me to continue with the planning and that Cupcake would like whatever I decided but would never admit it. I remember when I was fourteen, when the family piled into the Model T for a spin (I think we did that once), I was indeed bored out of my gourd.

I could say that I spent many weeks doing the planning, but I actually did it in a couple of days. I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see—mostly places I had been before but wanted to share with the significant people in my life. AS had seen some of the featured stops in North Carolina, but Cupcake hadn’t; meanwhile, neither had spent much time in Pennsylvania, and certainly not the places I would take them. My main task would be deciding where to stop and for how long. I decided to stay overnight in Asheville, North Carolina; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; State College, Pennsylvania; and, eventually, on the way home, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The remaining time would be spent with my old friends (and I do mean old) Toejam and Judytam, in northeastern Pennsylvania—anthracite country.

That was the plan, and we adhered to it fairly tightly. However, we decided to spend a few hours in Washington, D.C. on our way back south from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

As you might imagine, the nearly 3,000 mile, 10-day voyage was replete with twists and turns, wisecracks and made-up facts, new scenery for all but me, and supposedly, a break from the mid-summer Florida heat. Our travels began in my driveway on a Saturday. Our first stop would be Asheville.

In the next installment, I’ll bring you our first day.


  1. Lizzie says

    Hi Ben:
    As I have said before you missed your calling. (not really sure what your calling was but…….)! I read the first installment at bedtime and it did not sedate me. You should serialize it in your local rag.
    Will comment as I read further.

Leave a Reply