As is tradition, my brothers, nephew, and dad are driving to little ol’ Larchwood, Iowa from Caifornia this month. I usually am there, taking the graveyard shift driving, and drinking excessive amounts of “EXTREME CAFFIENE” gas station coffee. Only the finest for yours truly.
But this year I am in Malaysia, and I like to think this stems from the value my dad always thought came from actually seeing the country, instead of flying over it. Ever since he was a young kid, his dad would drive the family to visit the other half of the Hevern/Tracy clan in Iowa. And we as a family have been doing it for the last five years or so. Road trips have been a Hevern tradition ever since we could purchase cars!
I remember being a little kid and going to Las Vegas with the family. We could have flown no problem, but my dad insisted on driving the nine hours so we could really see Death Valley, and get a true feel for it. I was hooked. Of course I had to wait many years later to get a driver’s license, but once I did I became a full on road tripper.
The trip to Larchwood is our Man trip. Just us guys, stinking up the car while we drive straight through to Iowa, hot seating the whole way. Taking a week to get home, changing the route every year to see different sites, cities, and people.
I’m missing the man’s meal in Elko, and the Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks with a twist from the cute-in-a-redneck-cowgirl-type-of-way bartendress. The basque style dinner leaves you defeated before you even sniff your entre coming out from the kitchen.
I’m missing watching the sunrise in Wyoming and hearing my dad’s final snore, signaling the end to my graveyard drive shift. We watch the plains come alive with gazelle like deer and rabbits hopping around the man made wind barriers lining the highway.
The endless domino tournaments at every stop. One day we will prove who is the best of the bunch, but I’m not sure any of us will concede any time soon (We all secretly know it’s my dad, but don’t tell him I said that).
The annual semi-pro Larchwood baseball team competing for the state championship. We pull out the lawnchairs, pop open the cooler, order about four of the tastiest, simplest burgers each and cheer for our team away from home.
The non-stop bullshitting with our cousins in Larchwood. Country boys vs city boys. But don’t look twice, these city boys can match whiskey for whiskey all night and hop on the last tractor home.
All these amazing times have been opened up to us because of the family tradition of driving across the country, soaking up the land. I’m missing out this year, and am sad about it, but I know that my itch to get out and see the world, stemmed from my dad’s drive to drive, and his dad’s before that. I’m just taking it a step further this year, and know that when I come back we’ll be on the road once again.
Oh, and if we hear you calling us a “Hollander,” just know, them fightin’ words.