New attitude on road trips came in handy in June

Dan and I absolutely hated the first road trip we took, to visit Boston some 984 miles away. We split the 15-hour drive into two, complaint-filled days.

Looking back, I see two problems:

1. We planned to camp on the way there and when we missed an exit, we decided to stay in a hotel, but we didn't have reservations, and there was a quilt convention in town, so it took forever to find a room. Whew!

2. We didn't bring enough snacks.

We felt much different after our second road trip, when we drove even farther - 1,200 miles - to Hinsdale, Mont., in 2017 to celebrate The Hinsdalean's 10th anniversary. Even with an 8-year-old car sick Ainsley in the back seat, the trip was a success.

We planned a stop to visit friends at their summer lake house on the way out. And we brought an abundance of snacks.

We followed a similar recipe for our 1,965-mile (30 hours, round trip, with assorted stops) journey out east last month.

We had planned the vacation back in January, when we weren't sure how COVID-19 restrictions would affect our trip. Despite the uncertainties, we were anxious to travel for two reasons:

1. We had to cancel a trip to Boston and New York last year due to the pandemic.

2. I wanted to meet my birth mother, whom I first got in contact with last October through a DNA test.

So we found a house to rent for a week in Chestertown, Md., about 20 minutes from where my birth mom, Pat, and her husband, Steve, live. We also made plans to extend our trip for another week, stopping in New Jersey to see friends before making our way to NYC.

A few months ago, with the Big Apple not yet fully reopened, we amended our itinerary to include Washington, D.C., instead. Another adjustment was necessary when our neighbors, Tony and Julianne, sold their house in Vorhees, N.J. Fortunately her mother was gracious enough to invite us all to meet at her home in Severna Park, Md. What's one more trip over the Bay Bridge?

I am happy to report we had a great trip, from start to finish. I had a wonderful first meeting with my birth mother (more on that this fall) and we enjoyed our time with our former neighbors and my grad school friends. Also notable is the best crab cake I've ever eaten, courtesy of Steve.

I had a new appreciation of the area, too, thanks to James Michener's 996-page "Chesapeake," which Pat gave me for my birthday in March. (If I started reading it then, she wrote in the inscription, I might have time to finish it before my visit. No such luck. I'm just happy I got through it by the time we were heading back home!) Previously I had thought of the Chesapeake Bay and the Bay Bridge as mere obstacles on the trip from DC to Rehoboth, Del. Thanks to Michener, I knew about skipjacks and schooners and crabs and oysters and, really, all I could ever want or need to know about the area.

Another benefit of the trip is we were able to bookend it with visits with my half-sister, Chris, and her husband, Ken. They live outside Cleveland, a convenient stop just about halfway to Maryland.

So now I've met all of the immediate members of my birth family. Next on the list is probably a visit to Aunt Barb, cousin Erin and first cousin once removed Kalika in San Diego. Despite our relatively newfound love of road trips, I think we'll fly.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean