"The real voyage of Discovery lies not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes"
Marcel Proust

Saturday, July 30, 2011

1960s Road Trip

In 1967, my grandparents took a road trip from Springfield, Illinois south to New Orleans and then west through San Antonio, Mexico City, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and back through Kansas City and St. Louis.  At 7:15a.m. on 10-7-67 they pulled out of their driveway, carrying with them $1,000.87. They’d return at approximately 4:30p.m. on 10-27-67, coming home with $249.91. Only $2.45 was unaccounted for. During their 20-day trip they spent a total of $230.03 on motels, $123.74 on gas, $192.31 on food, $9.50 on tips, and $220.86 on gifts and miscellaneous items. They recorded 4 movies and 7 slides. They traveled 4,599 miles, and at 12:20 p.m., on 10-26, on a rainy Topeka bridge 109, on the Kansas Turnpike, their odometer turned 40,000 miles. How do I know all this? My late grandmother was meticulous in recording all of the details of their travels in her Stenographer’s Notebooks, and I had the pleasure of reading them. On her trips to Chicago, New York, Florida, California, and more she recorded every expense from a cup of coffee to a museum fee. Precision and care was taken with each day’s entry.  
I attempted to keep an expedition expenditure list when my family drove to Virginia one year. It worked for a while, but then I forgot to add the extra Twix bar at the gas station or the groceries we bought for dinner. Details of the outgoing journey were written with honest and excited dedication to the task, but my hand and head failed to keep up to those initial standards on the return trip home. I wonder how many people still keep detailed records of trips. Is it a lost art? Now, our cars can record some of those details in trip odometers and GPS units, but I’m sure there are still folks out there who enjoy making columns in notebooks and filling in little squares by hand—the joy of flipping back pages and comparing the gas prices in Tennessee and Florida, checking for a fair price of a hotel by their past days’ travels, and tallying up how much they’d spent at the end.

On their first day out they spent $26.48. Today that is practically absorbed by my family on our first stop for 4 hefty lunches at Hardee’s. Here’s a list of their expenses on that first day:
Coffee—Litchfield, IL                                        .31
Gas—Standard—Fairview, IL                            2.70
Lunch—Cape Girardeau, MO                             .72
Motel—Travel Lodge, Memphis, TN             10.40
Gas—Phillips—Howardville, TN                     4.60
Dinner—“The Flame”—Memphis, TN            7.50
Dinner Tip                                                           .25

I’m a detail person. I’m shocked at myself that I’ve only completed one of these detailed trip logs before. Rereading my grandmother’s methodical travel log stirs a new desire to try it again.  

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