Live Free ~ A story from the road.

I found this on the very top shelf of my closet today.

I made it when I was 18 or 19 years old.  

It’s a cover for a road atlas.

I actually went to a leather store, purchased a piece of leather, cut it, and attempted to tool it with my own two hands to add these decorative touches.

My husband Kelly, loves to make fun of this road atlas. When ever we’re on a vacation somewhere and we have even the slightest question as to our whereabouts, he’ll say (with a grin), “OH! If only we had ‘Live Free’ with us!”

He gets a little too much joy from saying that, I think.

When I made it, I was so very much into taking road trips.

My friends and I used to do the old close-your-eyes-and-point-at-the-map thing to decide on our destination.

Sometimes we had a reason for the trip; like the Lollapalooza tour in Tempe, Arizona, or, the U2 concert in Denver.  Man, I cried at that concert like some kind of crazed Beatles fan.

Many adventures in travel and sleeping in the back of my truck on the side of the road happened in those days. But today, I want to tell you a post-wedding traveling story.

We had been married about a year, and we decided to go on a trip to Los Angeles.  I insisted we have a theme for our trip, you know, to spice things up a bit. I considered the idea of us pretending we were Brittish, but eventually decided on a “just the essentials” trip; meaning that you could only take with you what you could fit in your school-size back pack.

We were to use public transportation and sleep in the cheapest of motels.

We flew there and soon after landing, we realized that L.A. is very spread out and that taxi cabs would be way too expensive and riding the bus would waste too much time. We adjusted our plans and decided to rent a car. The cheapest car, of course, which turned out to be a Geo Metro. We would sleep in the car since we couldn’t afford both a motel room and a rental car. (did I mention that Kelly  is 6′ 4″…he couldn’t even drive that car without tilting his head sideways, let alone sleep in it!)

First day there was probably fun, I don’t really remember. What I do remember was that first night. We parked our car somewhere near the beach. We used our towels as blankets and our back packs as pillows, reclined the Metro seats all the way back and said goodnight.

All through the night I kept hearing strange sounds and I was really getting freaked out. I would pop my head up and look out the window just like a dog does, and then poke Kelly and say, “Did you hear that? What was that?!” I wasn’t getting any sleep. One of the times I sat up to see what was making a sound, I saw this homeless dude coming right toward us, and I don’t know why, but it scared the crap out of me.  Maybe he is on drugs? Armed? Mentally ill? 

I shook my husband to wake him up, “Kelly, Kelly there’s someone coming! DRIVE! DRIVE! DRIVE!”

so he sits up in a hurry, flips his seat into driving position and starts to drive blindly across the parking lot, because his contacts are out and he can’t see anything without them, not to mention that it’s dark and he has been alseep. He kept asking me where to turn and if he was going to hit buildings or other cars. I was just so hysterical I kept yelling, “Shut up and drive!”

When we finally escaped the hobo and were a safe distance from the area, we stopped. Kelly put in his contacts and we drove around to find a better place to sleep.

We found a nice neighborhood where we felt sure there was no danger to find.  We woke up early the next morning to the sound of voices.  We both sat up to see a very respectable looking woman kissing her husband goodbye through the window of his car which was in the driveway of the house we were parked in front of.  They were staring at us...probably wondering who we were and why we were asleep in a crappy rental car in front of their home.  

Too tired to care, we both just laid back down and tried to get some sleep.  We fully expected to be awakened by police, but luck was on our side that morning.  

Needless to say, we coughed up some cash for a motel room the next night.  Kelly was hesitant to go along with anymore of my brilliant travel themes from that point on, but I'll tell ya, we were laughing about that for a long time after the trip was over. 

Tell me YOUR favorite travel story in the comments for a chance to win $100 to spend on jewelry here on the website.  Best story wins!  Winner announced Monday, 8/15

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  • haha! Love imagining you and Kelly backpacking through L.A. Towards the end of my study abroad, my roommate tiana and I decided that we needed to experience Italy by working on a vineyard. It was too late to get a placement through an like WOOFI. But we spoke to a friend who spoke to a friend and we got passed the number for a cute couple that lived in a small village east of rome. We arrived ready to smash grapes with our toes, enjoy olive oil fresh from the press, and experience life with a little Italian grandma and grandpa. We were a bit naïve. When we got there we found it was a commune of rather “free spirited” germans, and americans that had come to Italy years before. We spent the afternoon weeding, and tried to be optimistic when we saw that our room was a mattress in a really dusty attic. We talked food and were excited when they mentioned tonight they were making a special family recipe cake. As we all finished our chores we noticed a strange smell in the air, and asked the American what it was. He explained it was the best pot and that he came for a week and had stayed for 3 months relaxing and experiencing “Real Italy” camping in their backyard. As we got back to the house we tried to convince ourselves it was just a few of the workers, we walk into the kitchen to find the cute german grandma pull out chocolate cake, yep secret ingredient POT! We were volunteering on a pot farm…!! Naturally we faked an urgent email from a friend grabbed our backpacks and tried to high tail it out of there. Before we could leave though they wanted to “give us” fresh olive oil for the road, which we had to pay for. So we grabbed our over priced olive oil that set us free, and hightailed it to the train station, where we grabbed the last night train home!! Now I realize we were complete idiots for walking into that, but we get a great kick out of it whenenver it comes up.

    Allie Dopp on
  • Was I supposed to leave my story here? Lol. Oops. Here’s another one for you since re-typing isn’t my favorite thing, haha. If that’s against the rules, you can just pretend this is my Acadia story and this is a fun bonus! ;) When I was 16 my uncle offered to let me come stay with him (and his family) for a few weeks over summer vacation. The catch, he lives in Germany. I was excited and nervous. I had never been on a plane and the flight there was filled with turbulence. I cranked my discman (!!) and tried to relax but it was tough. I had to transfer in Paris; however, my flight was late landing so I had to run from one end of the airport to the other in 5 minutes. Luckily times were different then and people took pity on the terrified 16 year old that was by herself, and we’re very kind. I made it to my gate only to find my next flight was delayed, haha. When my flight to Bruhl boarded I had an entire row all to myself. It was heaven. I landed (after what seemed like forever) and met my uncle and cousins at the airport. We went back to their house and I met my aunt for the first time. She didn’t speak and English and I spoke very little German, but we made it work. She was a phenomenal cook!! Every day my cousins and I would walk around the town and explore and a couple times I went to school with them. People were very excited to meet the American girl. Most people some quite a bit of English. After a couple of weeks we went to their vacation home in holland. Holland was beautiful! The windmills, the ocean! I could’ve stayed forever. One day they took me into Amsterdam to see the city. That was an experience! It reminded of NYC and made me a little homesick. One day we went to the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen, though I can’t remember where they were exactly. Then there are all the other things: singing with my cousin while my uncle played guitar, my first legal beer, driving on the Autobon, learning a new language. I’ll never be able to express how grateful I am to have had that experience.

    Megan on
  • My favorite travel story is from when I went to Hawaii a little over a year ago! I went to visit a friend and just relax for two weeks. She didn’t have a car and was busy during the day and so I would go to the beach every day by myself and just hang out. I would usually just walk because I didn’t know how to use the bus system. One day, we decided to meet up after she was finished with everything that day, but I had to ride the bus to get to where we were supposed to meet up! I tried to follow her directions to the letter but missed my stop and ended up in China Town! It was pretty sketchy, so I called my friend and she told me to just wait there and she would come find me. We didn’t get to go watch the sunset where we had planned because the sun had set by the time she found me, BUT I got the best slice of cheese cake I’ve ever had while I waited for her. So I chalk that up to a win.

    Sadie Banks on
  • I don’t really have any great travel stories, but my family recently lived in Saudi Arabia, and while we have good memories of our time there, it was challenging to say the least. Women weren’t allowed to drive, and had to wear an abaya (a clothing garment not unlike a black choir robe). Going places was always stressful because everything closed for 30 minutes (at least) five times a day for prayers. Life was often exhausting. To get away from it all, we would drive 4-6 hours east to Bahrain, which, while still a Muslim country, was not nearly as conservative as its neighbor. As we drove across the bridge upon leaving the border, not only could I remove my abaya, but all of the stress of living in such a difficult place melted away. It was always a welcome and needed escape.

    Anne Hayes on
  • You have the best Stories. Well I only have one, because I’ve only gone to one place. After this week I’ll have another. But Alaska was Beautiful!! If I could I would live there. It was the first time I had been away from my kids, and the first time we had used skype. As we were skyping our kids our 2nd oldest mooned us while we were talking to our girls. Made us laugh.

    Heidi Redd on

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