Road trip plans changed after we added up miles

By John Toth

The Bulletin


We plotted out a road trip to Colorado, only to change our minds at the last minute and redirect our plans toward a less ambitious task - driving to South Padre Island.


In other words, we chickened out.


The original decision was made on the basis that we have driven long distances before, like in Europe after crossing the Atlantic in economy class and not being able to sleep a wink on the plane.


What we didn’t take into consideration was that we did that in 1990.


Two days before our Colorado excursion would begin, we plotted out the trip with the help of Google Maps (my new best friend) and driving 7-9 hours per day began to look less enticing.


“Where else would you want to go,” I asked Sharon.


After a brief discussion, we agreed on South Padre Island, less than a five-hour drive from our hideaway. We hadn’t been there in more than two decades. Let’s do it, we decided.


What about all the reservations we have already made in Colorado? What about the cool mornings and the 80-ish temperatures in the afternoons? The trip would also double as our escape from the heat.


I couldn’t order up 50-60 degree temperatures in the mornings for South Padre, but according to AccuWeather, the daily highs would not be as brutal as inland. It took about 20 minutes to cancel all reservations, with full refunds (except for the historical train ride, which deducted a $14 handling fee from each one of us).


We got off cheap. We just saved ourselves about 23 hours of driving.


“Our next Colorado trip will include flying there,” I said. This was agreed upon by the second party. We’re not the same age anymore as we were in 1990.


The change of plans also came with a caveat - Sharon would return to Harlingen, since it was on the way, and we would visit the places where she grew up and went to school. It would be a trip down memory lane before we reached the causeway and left the mainland behind for a while.


Now, the trip had a second purpose. The primary purpose was to serve as a 40th wedding anniversary celebration. We planned to drive because we didn’t feel comfortable flying yet, with all those “sky is falling” reports about airlines canceling or delaying flights.


We wanted to be in control of our destiny and bring more clothes than we’d need to stay for six months. What can I say? We’re not good travelers anymore. We need to ease into it and regain our traveling ways.


Planning a road trip to Colorado would not have been the ideal way of easing into it. Ignoring the doomsday reports about flying would have been a better choice. I did one thing right. I booked only hotels and excursions that guaranteed a full refund - minus $28 from the train company. That saved the day.


So, we headed on our new outing on a hot summer day (that could have actually been any day), and also started on the road of reliving Sharon’s childhood and teen years. We visited the house where she lived and even managed to take pictures without the current occupants calling the law on us.


The elementary and high school photos were less risky. The walk down memory lane was a big hit. Sharon detailed all the activities she and her brother used to do, which places they went to eat, to which park they rode their bikes as kids.


It was non-stop retro Sharon. Now I was really glad that we changed plans. Colorado would not have offered this. And, after driving all day, all we would have wanted to do is get to the hotel and crash.


There was one big loss. We were going to stop at Roswell, N.M., on our way to Colorado, and planned to visit all the UFO-related sites there. I may have even stumbled into what really happened there in 1947. Was it Martians or just a malfunctioning weather balloon?


We can always do that another time. Now it was time to make one more stop before we hit the causeway to the Island. We had to climb up to the top of the Port Isabel Lighthouse.


The last time we did that was more than two decades ago. After walking all the way to the top, I concluded that it got a lot taller.


(Send comments to john.bulletin@gmail.com. Or write to: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516.)