On The Road

Boyleing Points

Bismarck, North Dakota (RT) – September 21.

I always wanted to write a dateline. Like a real reporter. I guess I didn’t have to drive 2,000 miles to do it, but I never thought of it before.

When you drive 2,000 miles, you can think of a lot of things. Like how families don’t do drive vacations much anymore. They drive three or four hours, tops, to a single destination (Lake George or Windham) otherwise it’s all aboard the 747.

In the old days, kids would be jammed in the station wagon, and families might drive cross country. Hence the expression – don’t make me pull over. Hence another expression, There’s the Grand Canyon, now get back in the car.

Now that I’m doing the retro thing with a newly retired wonder woman, I’ve come to realize how some things have changed on the open road. Like license plates. Of course, we wanted to count and list all the different ones on the road but too many states have seven different versions. Michigan is annoying in a license plate kind of way. Otherwise, Michigan is underrated as a destination vacation. We all think of Detroit and Flint but google Mackinac Island. And Sleeping Bear Dunes. Michigan borders three of the Great Lakes. And Lake Huron? It’s Caribbean blue in spots and clear as Pellegrino. Who knew?  And there’s some town called Frankenmuth that looks like it’s in the German alps and yep, they have a pretty great Oktoberfest.

And you know what else has changed, you can’t play punch buggy anymore because they’re just aren’t any VW bugs out on the road anymore. We started playing “punch lakes” in Minnesota but had to stop when bruising occurred. The game was rapid fire combat, so we proved it true: Minnesota has a lot of lakes.

In the old days, you might get demerits if you had to stop to pee. Now, you set Waze up for rest areas.

I’m not saying the old days were better, far from it. Back then, you’d only get Reverend Podunk on a weak radio signal. Now you’ve got podcasts and sitting next to each other in silence for 30 exits isn’t so weird.

Oh, I almost forgot one of the highlights. It’s true you can find some spots that are frozen in time. I found a bar in Elmira that served a cold pint of Bud Lite for $2.50. If I had 20 more, I might have wanted to stay in Elmira.

It occurs to me that you can live like a hermit, this country is vast and open. And it occurs to me that everywhere is nice, more or less, this time of year. There’s not an outpost without a brew pub these days. Toledo, Ohio has a tree lined neighborhood like Ditmas Park in Brooklyn with cool Victorian style houses (oh, and they sell for $225,000). Same with Fargo, North Dakota. These places are so nice you almost forget they’re worse than hell in about five weeks. The aforementioned Mackinac Island? Just one restaurant remains open after October 15 and people get to the mainland by friggin’ snowmobiling across Lake Huron! Yeah, the ferry can’t get through the ice, No friggin‘ thank you.

Next stop: The Badlands. Don’t make me pull over: I’m not talking about 116th Street…

By Kevin Boyle

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