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MACHO MADNESS Road Trip Adventures
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Road trippin' with my two favorite allies

Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies

It's time to leave this town

It's time to steal away

Let's go get lost

Anywhere in the U.S.A

- Red Hot Chili Peppers, Road Trippin'

I love going on road trips.

I enjoy the hours spent in a car with friends or family, taking in the sights, listening to music, becoming involved in lengthy conversations where we solve the world's problems.

And as the Chili Peppers pointed out, there is a sense of freedom in a great road trip.

I explained these concepts to my wife, Donnelle, convincing her a road trip to Washington State to visit our daughter, Rachel, and her family to celebrate our granddaughter Madeline's first birthday would be a fine time.

I've made the drive a few times, once with Rachel when we drove her then-fiancé Danny's car up to him. We took our time, often stopping to check out anything that caught our eye. We drove along the Rogue River for a bit, stopped to look at a waterfall, and explored The Dalles, a historic Oregon town next to the Columbia River. The trip also provided us a chance to catch up with each other as Rachel prepared for her college graduation; I recalled it being one of the first times I realized my little girl had become all grown up, and was a smart, independent, and thoughtful person.

Unfortunately, the last time Donnelle and I made this particular trip was last winter during what we later learned was one of the worst blizzards to hit Oregon and Washington in decades. The normal 14-hour drive stretched to over 20 hours, as we were often forced to slow to 25 mph due to conditions. When we weren't driving, our eyes glued to the road for stalled cars and other dangers, we were sleeping.

Thankfully, our son, Kevin, was along for the journey, and between the three of us we were able to break up the task of driving. But it was a long trip.

Donnelle was lobbying for taking a flight this time, but I pointed out the drive would be much easier during the summer.

"It will be fun," I told her. "Driving along the Columbia River, seeing Mt. Shasta, the wide open grain fields in Washington."

And, as I pointed out, there's nothing better than gas station beef jerky.

I can still recall the thrill of a road trip I took when I was still in my teens. My two best friends and I had decided to go camping. Or backpacking. We really weren't sure; we just knew we wanted to head into the mountains for a few days. One of my friends recalled a campground somewhere off of Highway 120, he thought, where he had camped with his parents as a child. We had borrowed an old tent and some gear from various relatives and friends, pooled together our money for gas and to buy some freeze-dried rations, and headed east, camping along the way.

We returned home about a week later, tired, dirty, hungry, and out of money. But we sure had some great stories to tell.

Donnelle, on the other hand, is more comfortable with a plan. She told me of trips taken when she was younger, where motel reservations were already in place and the route decided on, everything planned down to the number of hours traveled in a day.

Thus, most of the road trips we took when our kids were young were pretty well planned out, until I talked her into going on a "real" road trip.

"You just need to pack stuff for yourself," I told her as the kids and I loaded up the dog, food and camping supplies in the car.

Donnelle, as I said, likes her adventures organized with checklists and itineraries, and asked where we were heading.

"East," I told her with a smile. "Into the mountains. Or somewhere else."

She didn't say a word as the kids and I finished packing, until we were in the car, ready to leave.

"Um, are we camping?" she asked.

"Maybe," I answered. "Depends on where we end up."

"Well," she said, "Shouldn't you pack the tent poles along with the tent?"

OK, so I forgot the tent poles.

Donnelle also reminds me that most of the road trips we took with the kids involved her turned around in her seat for a good portion of the drive, tending to our little ones. One family legend involves Donnelle, after we stopped for a pasta dinner while driving to Las Vegas, becoming a bit carsick.

"If I have to turn around again," she warned Rachel and Kevin, "you're going to have spaghetti in your hair."

As I recall, whatever it was they needed, they decided they could do without.

But I've convinced her the two of us it should have a great time, with the long hours of summer daylight guiding our path. And without standing hotel reservations, we'll have the freedom to stop at any time, anywhere along whatever route we happen to take, to see what the world holds.

And since we won't be camping, I don't have to worry over those darn tent poles...

Craig Macho is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.