The Mexican Federal Highway 1, was completed in 1973. Google maps claims that’s twenty-one hours of driving to La Paz (click on the ‘family road trip’ icon and that time doubles). Their marriage tenuous, my parents seized on the idea of going south through Baja. I was thirteen, my sister eleven. Was this road trip borne out of an article in Westways magazine? An aching hope that peninsular beaches would wash away present pain? For the kids? Adventure called; Baja beckoned.
A seed of the wild was at work in my folks. Evident in each parent when separately seen. Mom took us to the mountains. Dad played with photography. Somewhere in them, between them, this connection. A seed stifled.
An album in a box contains black and white photos from that trip. Taken with my Brownie camera; mom, dad, sis, a statue celebrating the 28th Parallel. I have few memories of that trip. Fighting to stay awake---the rocking of the car lulling me to sleep. Watching the scenery in-between fights with my sister. Many bathroom stops—mom was taking a diuretic. Pemex gasoline—that’s funny when you’re thirteen. Roadside shrines, and ribs at Senor Frogs. I can’t say what the trip stirred in my parents. Still a portal opened, a seed planted.
Is this hankering for road trips my nature? The same DNA driving my parents to drive? That same DNA motivating my grandfather to flee Russia—the most grandiose of road trips. Or was I nurtured by highway? Solid and safe the car takes care of all my needs. Transporting me to a place where hope is just in the distance. A seed takes hold.
I've seen countless backroads since then. Cresting hills and plummets into washes. Hours in the cab with close friends. Honeymoon with the wife. Weeks in the summer with the daughter checking out ‘America’s best ideas.’ Every October and Summer seeking adventure. Other people’s stories. Vistas and visions of beauty around every turn. Hope just beyond the horizon. A seed blooms.