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Hitting the open road

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Posted: Friday, June 10, 2011 9:43 am

Think about it: A highway that stretches across states, the odd appeal of roadside attractions, the greasiness of truck stop burgers and the resonating lyrics of a perfectly planned playlist. It is time for a summer road trip. 

If you are like these Lodians — who have braved roads in Thailand and trekked across the United States — here is your road trip guide. Find the spirit of the open road with classic films and books. Let locals inspire you with their travels. Visit the best and weirdest roadside stops. And don’t worry about boredom with our list of fun driving games.

Letters from Lodi roadies

Darrell Baumbach walked the roads of Thailand,  embracing an unknown culture

In December 2010, I traveled and stayed in north Thailand near Chaingrai. In February 2011, I decided to go on a two-day road trip by foot with only my backpack and camera. I took a local bus that dropped me 30 miles from the nearest city and I walked more than 10 miles in two days exploring an area where I was the only tourist.

The sights, sounds, people, places and things I saw will forever be branded in my mind. I was scared at first because I was walking through areas I was not familiar with, did not know how to speak the native language and had no protection if something or someone wanted to do me harm. When I came upon people, they would stare at me until I walked out of view. They appeared surprised and curious as to why someone like me would be walking alone in their area.

The experience was exhilarating and educational. On three occasions I was invited to eat by friendly locals who wanted to spend time with me. It was interesting to see foods prepared that, to them, were delicacies, but to me, have never considered food. One place served me fish head soup smothered in rare tree ants and Koh seasoning. It was delicious, to my surprise. These people were kind, friendly, and willing to share what they had even though that had very little.

I encountered water buffalo, snakes, dogs who thought I was dinner, tropical fruits, unique bugs and very cute village children who followed me in curious wonder. In retrospect, I could have ended my life on earth putting myself in such a precarious situation, but I enjoyed every minute. 

Family road trip allows grandpa and grandson to bond in important ways

In October of 2009, my family and I took a road trip. My father-in-law was suffering from a liver disease and his health was not good. He was on the donor list and we decided it was a great way to spend time together during my son’s break from school.

We rented a motor home and traveled up to through Nevada and Idaho. We went on to Montana and headed to Yellowstone, which was absolutely amazing!

It was a wonderful experience for my son to spend quality time with his grandparents.

We then traveled on to South Dakota to see such sites as Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

It was a truly great vacation and since then my father in law has been blessed with a successful liver transplant and good health.

Karen Hurtz’ family road trip

During the summer of 2005, my husband at the time, myself, and two 17-year-old boys traveled with a trailer to Montana, Canada, Oregon and back home in three weeks. We left Lodi on June 12 and promised to be home by July 4.

We visited Yellowstone National Park for one week. The boys went fly fishing daily. 

Our next stop was Bozeman, Montana, to see the university and to visit friends.

Next was Glacier National Park, located at the northern edge of Montana. My son and I hiked 14 miles round trip to see the most beautiful lake. 

Then we were off to Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. We had to cross the Canadian border, and they confiscating my son’s air soft rifle because it looked so real.

Once we arrived in Alberta, we made our way to Banff. We stayed at a campground right on the river. The only issue we had to get used to was having barbed wire at the top of the fence to keep the grizzlies out. 

Next stop was Vancouver, British Columbia. We stayed two nights, and saw all of the sights. 

We did get home by July 4. 

It was a vacation of many memories. We planned out the trip, mapped our destinations and campgrounds. We made reservations in advance. One lesson we learned: plan for the unexpected. And, always carry tools — you never know when you might need them.

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