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Lessons Learned From A Family Road Trip

Photo by: iStock



Let us be lovers,
We’ll marry our fortunes together.
And we walked off
To look for America.



Gloria and I long ago married our fortunes together. We had about a buck-fifty between us when we met nearly 25 years ago at Boston University. It seems like a different lifetime. So much has happened. Cross country moves. Job changes. Living. Two children growing up in a blink. It’s all going so fast. For one week, we decided to slow it down. So we packed up the car to go see America. Just like the Simon and Garfunkel song which has been playing on a loop in my head. We drove. The majestic stone caverns of Zion. The peaks of Grand Teton still dotted with snow on the first of August. The beauty of Old Faithful and the sulphur pools of Yellowstone. We put hundreds of miles on the car on side roads and backstreets through Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming… looking for America.


Laughing on the bus,
Playing games with the faces,
She said the man in the gabardine suit
Was a spy. I said, “Be careful,
His bow tie is really a camera.”



On our last big road trip the kids played the license plate game for money. Spot a different state we hadn’t seen and earn a quarter. Find a full house of numbers or letters and earn more. The kids are a couple of years older already and that didn’t have the same attraction. This time around the kids played name that tune with the radio. And we watched episodes of Glee they’ve been binge watching on their iPad at night. We bought a couple of board games Sushi Go and Celestia. Apologies for the one hotel where we moved all the hotel furniture to turn the desk into a game table as the heated Celestia game went for at least an hour. One kid played solitaire. The other clutched her new plush bison we bought. Busy planning the next day. What would we do. Where were we headed… as we looked for America.


And the moon rose over an open field.
“Kathy, I’m lost”, I said,
Though I knew she was sleeping.
“I’m empty and aching and
I don’t know why.”



Sitting in front of the Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming. It’s 820 AM and I’m clutching my coffee on a chilly morning while watching the mountains. How many other people have sat right here while the mountains watched back. Morning is my mirror. It’s reflecting time. Time to think. Time to look back. And on this trip so much to think and look back on. I left the room this morning and the wife had snuck into the kids’ bed. How many more times will she be able to do that. How many more road trips will we take as a family. We’re packing up for our next destination this morning. We’ll never have this moment again. THIS moment.


Counting the cars
On the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come
To look for America,



Somewhere on the road it finally just clicked in my head. Thousands of miles in the car, beautiful landscape shots on many people’s bucket list of destinations, it clicked. I wasn’t out here looking for America at all. That was nice. That was memorable. But that wasn’t it. I was out here looking for my family. And they’d been here all along.


All come to look for America,
All come to look for America.



I sat listening to nature, watching the mountains, and finishing my morning coffee, while the wife and kids slept. We hit the road in a couple of hours.



Pete Wilgoren is a TV journalist by day and a doting dad the rest of the time. He has won numerous Emmy awards for his work in TV news including an investigation into freeway safety which went all the way to Capitol Hill and the desk of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Pete’s kids are glad to use the Emmys to hang their swim goggles on, or to make goals for floor soccer, or to use in My Little Pony play. You can follow Pete on Facebook

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