Traveling there & here: Part One

I know from my Jewish history courses in college that the stereotype of the wandering Jew is not really based on the Jews’ desire to travel as much as out people’s forced travels and relocations, depending on the whims local governments. I, however, love to travel, whether by plane, train or automobile. I really thrive on the excitement of exploring new places and meeting new people. Give me my map & I am on the way!

This article is part of a series of articles in which I will compare the differences and similarities between traveling in the US and Israel.

I love to drive. I enjoy driving long distances. I grew up in a town that was an hour drive from Denver, so for all entertainment (movies, etc.) & even religious connections, we traveled an hour each way. That hour gave us an hour to read, or mentally prepare for the coming activity and the return drive allowed us to decompress and debrief from the day, allowing special quality time with our parents discuss with them the day’s activities, both before and after.

The summer after we got married, I took my husband (a non-driver, except for emergencies) on a pan-USA driving trip. He had yeshiva friends who had taken posts in places like Cleveland and Indianapolis. I had family in various locations including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas & Colorado. Gas was relatively cheap & car rentals even cheaper. We rented a comfortable car for 3 weeks & after including gas, our travel expenses were less than if had we flown to only one of the places we visited.  

Of course, staying with friends and family along the way made the trip a lot more enjoyable as well as affordable. We also made use of my “space available” privileges at various military bases along the way, sometimes getting a two room suite for $15 a night.

Those were the days!

That trip we spent a week driving west, more or less along Interstate 70, a week in Colorado, where my family was based, and a week coming back via Interstate 80, so we could see Mount Rushmore, which neither of us had ever seen. Leaving Colorado later in the day than planned, we drove straight north through Wyoming. As dusk approached, our gas tank was around half, so we figured we would fill up about half way between where we were & where we hoped to spend the night, combining the gas stop with a stretch stop.

We pulled out the AAA (American Automobile Association) guide book & picked a motel close to our desired stop & called ahead to make a reservation. The person on the other end asked if we’d be “in by 10”? We guessed not as it was only 9pm at the time. He replied, “Well then, we’ll just leave the key taped to the door, see you in the morning.”

As we progressed into Wyoming, towns and gas stations suddenly became few and far between. As our gas gauge continued to drop rapidly, we realized that our original plan of stopping for gas was unwise, as there was no guarantee that there would even be a gas station in that area, not to mention that even if there was, it would probably be closed by then.

We took the next exit & pulled up to the pump, grateful that there was still someone about. It turned out he was in the process of locking the pumps for the night! I guess the concept of automatic, credit card gas pumps had not yet made it up to Wyoming. He was nice enough to unlock the pumps and sell us a tank of gas & we were gratefully on our way.

We arrived at the motel to find a very pleasant room, well appointed, considering it was out in the middle of literally nowhere. In the morning, when I went to check out, he explained that they generally don’t lock their hotel rooms at night, but that lately, they had been having trouble with local raccoons who would open the doors & then leave them open after finding no food & leaving. Then, at night, moose would come into the rooms & chew up all the linens & curtains.

To be continues on June 22nd…