back on the ultimate '70s road trip
MIRIAM KING, BRADFORD WEST GWILLIMBURY TIMES
Whitehead and Murray Jupe are the co-authors of
"Then There Was One: The Ultimate '70s Road
Trip" - a book that not only chronicles a
personal journey in 1971, but also provides a
snapshot of an era.
in 1971 my friend and I graduated high school,
and we decided to delay going to university -
and go somewhere," says Whitehead.
bought a $500 car in Toronto, and on January 2,
1971, left on a round trip to Acapulco, Mexico
- with an old Kodak "Pony" camera, an
instamatic, an endless supply of optimism and
whatever money they could save up in six months.
was a time when many young people took time off
to backpack through Europe, but Whitehead and
Jupe were concerned about the weather, language
and "bottom line. It boiled down to dollars
and cents... we knew if we were driving, it would
be less expensive than flying somewhere and staying
turned out to be as much an exploration of North
American culture, as a vacation. They were in
Florida when Apollo 14 was ready to launch and
were invited into the press room in Houston to
see the lift off.
were "appalled" and shocked by the blatant
racism they found in a newly-desegregated U.S.
South, and by the attitude of "Anglos"
in Acapulco toward the native Mexicans.
so, Whitehead calls the time spent in Mexico the
"highlight of the trip. We had never been
somewhere like that before." Despite warnings
to watch out for bandits in those pre-cartel days,
despite being unable to speak the language, the
young Canadians found the people friendly, helpful
were determined we were going to do something,"
Whitehead says. "We learned a lot about ourselves.
We learned a lot about life."
couldn't last, of course. Nothing puts stress
on a friendship like travelling together, in close
quarters - and in Las Vegas at the end of March,
on their way home, they went their separate ways.
"Arguments, endless discussions... it was
worse than being married," says Whitehead.
travelled to Vancouver. Whitehead spent another
six weeks on the road, heading back to Toronto.
And, he says, "It took until 1977 until we
spoke to each other again."
when they met again by chance - and "we've
been best friends ever since."
during the trip, Whitehead kept a journal. Those
journal entries, combined with the colour photos
restored from 35 mm slides, make up "Then
There Was One."
text is basically what's in the journal,"
Whitehead says. "There's a real pop culture
feel to it."
was when he retired from the electrical distribution
industry that he began transcribing everything
to computer and began working on the slides.
"Then There Was One: The Ultimate '70s Road
Trip" sells for $22 and is available from
the author, at email@example.com.
Whitehead admits that the price doesn't cover
publishing costs - the first printing is in full
color, on glossy paper - but then, he says, "It
was a labour of love."
now, on the 40th anniversary of the trip, he says,
"I can't believe we made it from point A
to point B, and made it alive." It's a trip
that couldn't be done today. Great swaths of the
U.S. and Mexico were sparsely settled, there wasn't
the same level of tension or fear of terrorism.
Even Disney World didn't exist at the time they
drove through Florida; it opened at the end of
lives in Gilford, Ont. is an instructor at Delfs'
Tae-kwon do and has 2 kids of his own. And yes,
he has taken them on road trips.
Miriam King, QMI Agency Thursday,
August 7, 2014
is associated with road trips - throwing the bags
in the car, and heading off on the open road.
if you really want to see the countryside, while
avoiding the crowds and peak prices, try travelling
at off-peak times.
the advice of Eric Whitehead, and its based
on experience. For 20 years, from 1984 to 2004,
he took his family - wife Karen and sons Gavin
and Adam - on an annual road trip, usually in
October, to destinations across the U.S.
boys were ages 6 and 3 when the adventures began.
At the time of their graduation from high
school, they had been to all 48 States,
Whitehead says, travelling by van for 2 to 3 weeks
at a time.
every location and along the way, they took photos
and videos of their travels - material that Whitehead
has now transformed into a new book, The Holiday
Road. Each chapter is a different year, each year
a different road trip.
says that only once did they change their travel
plans at the last minute, and make a spur-of-the-moment
decision. It was a year that the family had planned
to head down to Florida - but on the way down
from their Gilford home, they learned that a Hurricane
watch had been issued. After checking the weather
maps, they decided to head for the only sunny
turned out to be a great decision, travelling
across (to them) new territory. It was great
because we had never been to any of the States
in between, Whitehead said. The only problem?
They had packed for Florida. It was a little
cool at times.
about the best road trip, he says, Probably
the year we went to the Southwest. Once
through the flatlands of Kansas, it was a series
of positive experiences, including horseback riding
in the desert just after dawn, a trip to the Grand
Canyon, visiting an Arizona movie studio where
even First Aid providers were in costume, and
coming back through Utah where the canyons
were spectacular. Not to belittle the Grand Canyon,
but these were more spectacular.
also helped that both boys were baseball fans;
working in a baseball game or two was always
a common denominator for every trip.
were no disasters - although, frequently after
arriving at their reserved hotel, they would switch
rooms or even hotels. Usually when we did
that, we ended up in a really great place!
experience has had an impact on his boys. Gavin,
now 34, works for a company that provides travel
packages for teens. Hes been to Australia,
hes been to Europe several times. Hes
now in Costa Rica... Hes officially in the
younger son, Adam, who suffered from car sickness
on the road trips, is now married with children
and also takes his family travelling - but by
Holiday Road is Whiteheads 4th book, available
on his website, www.thatroadtripbook.com for $25
plus shipping. He will also have a booth at Carrotfest,
August 16, where hell be selling and autographing
copies - and chatting about hitting the open road.
thing is for certain, travelling gives children
an education that cannot be equalled in any book,
movie or classroom, he says.
Eric Whitehead with his latest book - chronicling
20 years of road trips with his wife and two sons,
across the U.S.
Whitehead is a resident of Gilford, Innisfil.
MIRIAM KING/BRADFORD TIMES/SUNMEDIA
to Vietnam, and The Rock
Miriam King, Bradford Times Thursday,
August 13, 2015
Whitehead started his travels in 1971, when he
and friend Murray Jupe took a road trip across
the U.S., at a time of cultural change and turmoil.
Nixon was president; America was shaken by race
divisions, and by demonstrations against the war
may not have been the most relaxing vacation,
but it left Whitehead with a life-long passion
for travel. Each year, from 1984 to 2003, he and
wife Karen took their sons Gavin and Adam on a
road trip to a different destination in North
America. Since the boys have grown up, Eric and
Karen have travelled the world on their own -
and Whitehead, taking photographs and keeping
journals of each trip, has transformed the personal
journeys into a series of travel books.
couple's 2013 trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, and
2014 travels in Newfoundland, are the basis of
his latest books.
from the Shadows: Exploring Vietnam and Cambodia
chronicles their first time in Asia. They chose
Vietnam and Cambodia primarily because the cost
was one-third that of a visit to China.
admits he expected to see more signs of the impact
of the Vietnam War. I went thinking that
there was going to be a real attitude about Americans...
There wasn't that at all. They have no animosity
at all about the Americans they have more
animosity to the French, who started the
conflict in 1955.
with a U.S. Tour company, the Whiteheads customized
their 3 week adventure, adding the Mekong Delta
to the proposed trip, as well as a side journey
into Cambodia. There were moments when thoughts
of the Vietnam War intruded: travelling on an
open sampan, through tunnels of vegetation in
the Delta, the boat motor sounded eerily like
a helicopter bringing to mind the images
in every movie on the war. It was unnerving,
during a hike in the Sapa Valley, in northern
Vietnam, their guide led them to a guest house
for lunch, where they sat down with the family.
They didn't speak a word of English, we
didn't speak Vietnamese, and Whitehead couldn't
help but wonder if the family had been Viet Cong
during the war.
were moments of culture shock. Hanoi is a city
of 6 and a half million people, and there
are that many motorcycles. It was just something
I wasn't used to, he says. And then there
was the heat 38C in Vietnam, 42C in Cambodia.
visited in March, during the off-season
which meant they weren't jostling other tourists,
even on visits to some of Cambodia's 450 temples,
dating back 1000 years or more. The people
were fantastic, and we felt very safe everywhere
we went... I would go back to Vietnam again, in
following year, the Whiteheads travelled to Newfoundland.
needed something that would be a little more cost-effective
for us, Whitehead says. That was the
only province we've never been to - and
the first time the couple were able to use their
air mile points.
Whiteheads spent a month on the Island, again
travelling off-peak in May and June, and renting
a car to make their way from outport to outport,
starting in Gros Morne National Park wilderness
did a lot of hiking, and logged about 6,000 km
on the rental vehicle. Even so, Whitehead says,
A month is not enough. We saw only half
of Newfoundland. The result is his book,
Exploring the Rock.
the stops: L'Anse aux Meadows world heritage site,
a settlement established by the Vikings; and the
capitol city of St. John's but they didn't
make it to Labrador. Due to thick ice and icebergs,
calving from the melting Greenland ice sheet,
the ferry wasn't running.
wanted to see icebergs, Whitehead says,
and they did including a huge berg in the
harbour at St. John's, a sight that impressed
even the Newfoundlanders. They had never
seen so many icebergs.
Whiteheads stayed mostly in housekeeping cottages,
scattered around the coast. Beautiful, incredibly
well-kept it was just like you were at
home, he says, but found the outports a
little depressing... You could tell there was
nothing in the town. Although the town was dying,
people were still taking care of their property.
were no 'dumpy' areas; that's kind of what strikes
me more than anything.
memorable, though, were the friendly people
and the moose.
has thousands of moose, who pose a hazard for
motorists, especially at night. Infrared detectors
have been installed around the major cities and
towns that flash a warning light when moose are
detected, and there are cautionary signs everywhere.
first time the Whiteheads spotted a moose, standing
beside the road, they were surprised by its size,
and fearlessness. The animal stood for a moment,
and then ambled across the road. It's no
wonder they get hit!
from the Shadows and Exploring the
Rock are $25 each, available online at www.
thatroadtripbook.com Whitehead will also be selling
copies of his books at Bradford's CarrotFest street
festival, August 15.
Gilford resident is retired, and plans to continue
travelling, and writing. He has stepped foot on
5 continents, with only Antarctica and Australia
left to visit but cost and time will determine
the next journey, especially since wife Karen
is still working.
shares the key to successful travel: Don't expect
perfection. I'm very open-minded when I
travel, he says. I hear people complaining
in hotels, people expecting it to be just like
home... If you want that, stay home.
books, written in a personal, casual style, give
would-be travellers a taste of what they might
find on their journeys.
Eric Whitehead, Gilford resident, with his latest
He will be at Carrotfest in Bradford, Ont., August
Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network