A Few Excerpts From The Book "The Holiday Road"

In the Beginning…The arduous, enduring drives to get there were often filled with not so much games and amusements as actually just sleeping the scenery away. Dad had built a wooden bench to fit over the hump on the floor of the back seat and fill in the area between the front and back seat so we had a nice wide double bed. That accounts for accommodations for two kids but remember I said there were three of us so where did the third kid sleep? Well that’s a stupid question – he slept up on the shelf in the back window of the car! We had not yet heard of auto safety; there were no seat belts in the car and it just hadn’t occurred to anyone that their beloved first born child might become an instant high speed human projectile as you cruised aimlessly down America’s highways and byways in search of the world’s biggest ball of twine.

Pikes Peak, Colorado…On the drive down the switchbacks came at us fast and furious and all of a sudden the fact that there were no guardrails seemed to be of greater concern. On top of that was the worry that my brakes would melt as I was pretty much riding them the whole drive down, to the point we felt it best to stop a number of times just to let them cool down. Somewhere on the trip down the mountain the nausea disappeared as we descended in altitude. There was so much to pay attention to that I didn’t even realize I felt better until down to the highway but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat and wouldn’t change a thing – well, maybe I wouldn’t go into the gift shop.

Dodge City, Kansas…As we drove away from Dodge City early the next morning we realized that it was the radio not the television that provided the best entertainment in these parts. Scattered amongst the numerous reports on the hog futures and corn prices of the day was the local news of barn dances and prison breaks. Prison breaks were hardly ever in the news at home, see, we just don’t get out enough - we need to travel more.

The Road to Chicago…Looking around to make sure there were no police or any other prying eyes I ascertained “the coast was clear” and drove cautiously around the barrier onto the ramp. I was prepared to play the dumb ass tourist card if we were stopped and we entered the freeway easily as there was no traffic at all. Have you ever driven on a totally empty Interstate? Well I must say we were making awesome time and the first 10 miles just flew by. Of course there was absolutely no one else on the road, no work crews, not a damn thing. However, ultimately there were several people actually working and they looked on in utter amazement as we went flying by. With angry shouts and shaking of fists they made their displeasure obvious. We, on the other hand, truly did have very mixed emotions. The sheer terror created as we worried what would happen if we were caught and stopped was only slightly overshadowed by the lunacy of doing something so outlandishly reckless. I turned to Karen and jokingly said, “Stop laughing! We want them to think this happened by accident!”

Silver City, Idaho…However, that was the least of our worries. Up the hills on both sides of the road surrounded by scrub grass and dried bushes were several deteriorating wooden shacks at varying intervals. These shacks all had porches out front and were occupied by primarily old men, many with shotguns, sitting there staring blankly down at us. With “Dueling Banjos” resonating in my mind the only thing I could think of was that these old derelicts were all crazed Vietnam vets, ready to snap at any second and open fire on their hallucinatory enemy below. It was a very nervous journey of more than an hour but fortunately we arrived, relieved and safe in Silver City.

New Orleans, Louisiana…As they crunched on these delicacies I found humour in the situation that ensued. Cruising up to another group, our guide leaned out once again with his chicken wing, this time shouting, “Ici! Ici! Venez ici!” (Here! Here! Come here!) Wow, these alligators speak French!

Mojave Desert, California…We have always tried to treat both our boys equally which is rarely easy and not always possible but we try to make it happen if we can. Today that meant, as we left Joshua Tree National Park, it was Adam’s turn to drive - and I thought the rental company would be upset we let Gavin take the wheel!

Cleveland, Ohio…The rally was a spectacular opportunity that just came up; an experience that will not likely be repeated by the Whiteheads. Jump on the unexpected, act on it and be part of it, that’s one of the keys, one of the secrets to having your kids travel with you as they grow older. How many people can stand there and say with a straight face, “Yeah, I’ve been to a KKK rally.” You’re kidding right?




Kananaskis, Alberta…We were very happy that this was a rental vehicle and we were not subjecting our own to the pounding, dust, dirt and flying stones, nevertheless, we did make it through and I, for one, was pleased we had chosen to drive this route. It was scenic, exciting and different, after all, anyone can drive a paved highway, not everyone takes the road less travelled or the road not travelled for very good reason. But that’s the way we like it – uhuh uhuh.


In Conclusion…A family vacation was about fun things to do, exciting places to visit and experiencing different things but it was also about being together and sharing those experiences. Hopefully Gavin and Adam will someday pass these riches along to their own children. Although staged, Gavin smiling and waving as he boarded the plane in Majorca said it all. It’s been a great run; long live the Holiday Road. Karen and I hope that our years of travelling with the boys in some way contributed to their success. We have endured the empty nest syndrome for many years now and that in itself is sad, however, I have also realized that the happy, fun loving children they once were are gone forever and that is the saddest thing of all.

Read the interview with Eric Whitehead in the Bradford Times

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