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The Longest Road Trip Ever From California to Nova Scotia
G rowing up in California, summers always meant long, careless days spent meandering around the sunbaked sidewalks, hanging out with friends, and, of course, long trips to visit our family back in our native Michigan. But one summer in particular always sticks in my mind when I look back. It involved a road trip that I took voluntarily as a 14-year-old with just my grandma and grandpa all the way across the country. Though I’m not sure I appreciated it fully at the time — five days straight spent cramped in the car feels like a lifetime to a teenager — I still find myself looking back on it fondly. We started out in California, made our way up to New York, and then navigated up to Nova Scotia. The goal of this enormous voyage was to reconnect with my dad’s side of the family, a bunch of friendly French Canadians most of my family had never had the chance to meet. They were having a big family reunion on the family homestead up in Acadia, farther north than I’d ever been or have been since. I’m not exactly sure how they convinced a 14-year-old to come along on a 100-hour- plus round trip across the country. Maybe I was picturing it as a big adventure, where I’d encounter all kinds of new sights and experiences, or maybe I just wanted to meet this half of my family I’d heard so much about. At any rate, we all packed into the car one morning, hit the road, and stayed on it for days.
Needless to say, there wasn’t a lot to do. Without cellphones or video games to keep me
company, I did a lot of reading
and chatting with my grandparents. They regaled me, as grandparents do, with all kinds of stories about their lives. Over all those hours,
we grew pretty close — though I’m not sure my grandfather actually knew my name, since he’d always just say “hey, kid” when he had something to say to me. They must have felt bad dragging a young kid along, because I distinctly remember that, at one point, they stopped in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska next to this big water slide and asked me, “Would you like to check it out?” Well, I wasn’t about to turn down a chance to get out of the car for a few minutes! When we made it to New York, we were joined by my uncle who lived there, my cousin, and my dad, who’d flown up for the occasion. We drove up along the coast, the Atlantic Ocean on one side and a thickly wooded forest on the other. Eventually we were just driving down a sprawling network of logging roads. It has to have been the least populated area I’ve ever seen.
It really was a cool trip, all in all. We cruised from place to place, practicing with this French tape we’d bought and just taking in the sights. When we made it up to Acadia, we got a big welcome from the family. By the time we made it back to California, I’d logged what felt like thousands upon thousands of hours in that little car. I’m pretty sure it ended up being more than I’d bargained for. At that point, I think I was all adventured out — we truly had seen and done so much along the way. But even now, my dad and I chuckle about what an incredible opportunity that long, winding trip was.
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