Road Trip: Then & Now

This is off topic from our usual posts. Hopefully, you’ll find it as interesting as I do. It’s a comparison of roughly the same road trip taken 27-years apart. Wow, how things have progressed!

In 1988, before we celebrated our first anniversary, Lynn and I quit our full time jobs, left our apartment in the Los Angeles area, and camped across America for six months. By far, this adventure tops most of our experiences together. It was a time we commonly think back on with wistfulness to do it again, some day.

We travelled frequently with the kids as they grew up. That travel bug has bit our daughter, Alexa. She has become quite adventurous and independent. While her friends were planning trips to Europe to celebrate college graduation, she planned a road trip across the United States. It was exciting to hear about her plans. She and her boyfriend, Evan were planning to do this together. Evan’s parents were very nervous about the trip. I couldn’t help but smile as we had the same experience. My Dad said “whatever makes you happy.” My Mom said, “OK, how about just giving me your license plate number just in case something goes wrong.” Lynn’s parents were very nervous. Not only did they worry about an accident, or something going wrong, but they also worried if, as newlyweds, we could get along while being that close to each other every day.

Comparing our trip with Alexa’s trip, there are obvious differences and similarities.  Evan was starting law school in the fall. Their time was limited to six weeks. Both trips were, with few exceptions, relatively unplanned. Both trips started out in small white cars; ours a 1986 VW Golf, and Alexa’s, a 2014 Honda Fit.

Alexa’s first concern was about money. How much would she need? Lynn and I saved $10,000 hoping it would last six months. This seemed like a lot to her. She was nowhere near that. I pointed out that she wouldn’t need as much because they were only planning for 6 weeks. But also, that our money paid all expenses, insurances, film for photos. “Photos?” she says. Our daughter grew up in the digital age. It didn’t occur to her we had to spend money, twice, to get the pictures. We had to buy the film and then pay to process the film for prints. And we didn’t have the luxury of reviewing and then tossing bad ones out before printing. Another financial concern Alexa mentioned was insurance. We paid for our own health and car insurance. We were already working regular jobs. Alexa, however, was not so that was not an issue for her, only for us.

As Alexa was asking specific questions about logistics, it occurred to me the differences, and similarities, would be interesting to compare.

For example, besides the cost of getting thousands of photos printed, is all the space it took in our car. Alexa’s photos, music, books, address book, maps, her journal and a camera are all on her phone. Our space requirements were much different. For us, each of those items was a physical thing we had to find a nook for. Oh, and music!! We didn’t have MP3 players back then. CDs just came out. We had a tape player. We brought along two wooden tape racks, enough for a total of 100 cassettes. We had to take out the back seat of the VW Golf to fit everything. We buried a huge wicker trunk in the well where the back seat was and the top of that was where we stored all our music. For Alexa, everything fit in her Fit with relative ease. The cost of gas we figured may be a wash. Although her mpg was much better than ours, we paid under $2 a gallon.

Speaking of cell phones, they weren’t around either. That was one expense we did not have. If we wanted to call someone we used a pay phone.

our mapOur route (1988) above, and Alexa’s route below in 2014.

map AX

car golf backcar back of fit

monterey P

monterey AX

Monterey, CA above. San Francisco below.

san fran P

san fran ax

oregon  P

Oregon waterfalls.

Oregon A

Our friend, Philip in Portland, OR, back in 1988.

Alexa met up with Philip in 2014.Our friend, Philip, (above) in Portland, Oregon, 1988 vs 2014. Nothing really changed.
He’s still a nice guy. We both stayed with him.

monolith ys p

monilth ys ax

of ys p

of ys ax

Old Faithful, above, in Yellowstone National Park. Faithful then and Faithful now.

Mt rush PMt Rush Ax

Mount Rushmore above. Badlands National Monument in South Dakota below.

badlands Pbadlands ax

dbq 4th st P

DBQ 4th st AX

4th Street Elevator, Dubuque, Iowa

dbq elf exit P

dbq elf exit AX

We both found the elf exit!

dbq star brewery  Pdbq star brewery ax

Dubuque Star Brewery is still there.

chi water Pchi water


dc wash ax dc wash P

Cameras and video cams then, smartphones now.

dc lin P

dc lincoln 1 ax

The Washington and Lincoln Memorials, Washington, DC

mes verde 1 Pmes verde 1 AXmesa ladder Pmesa ladder AX

Mesa Verde National Park

tongue p

tongue aLike mother like daughter.

All of this reminiscing has Lynn and me starting to think again, as we did 27 years ago on the shores of Maui, how can we do something like this again, and soon. Ideas are floating. We’ll see where they land.

To learn a bit about Alexa and to read her travel blog, please visit:



8 thoughts on “Road Trip: Then & Now

  1. Wow! What a fun read! Thank you for doing all you did so we could enjoy too! It had to have taken a while to get all the photos lines up! She is the spitting image of you in every way! In one generation — so many technological advances. Imagine our grandchildren! By the way….. our Jennifer is expecting! I’m going to be a grandma! She is due in November. Hope you are both well! xo

    Love, Marie Date: Sat, 23 May 2015 21:11:55 +0000 To:


  2. Lots of changes-fun to read. I am also captivated by the photos of the packed car-the packing and unpacking, the feeling that you are forgetting something vital, hasn’t changed too terribly much:)


    • Hi, Elena. Since we knew when we left on our trip in 1987 that we wouldn’t be returning to LA, we sold most of everything we owned. We felt a certain liberation knowing that everything we needed was inside that little VW. We get that feeling now whenever we hike. Everything we need is in the packs. If something isn’t in the pack, well, must be we didn’t need it 🙂


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