My great grandmother was, in her heyday, the little old lady from Pasadena.
Now a days, she is old, and weary; her sight has failed her, and though she is able to scrawl out warm greetings on family christmas cards, and has my aunt as a secretary for e-mails and the new fangled things she onlt barely learned from my father and I, she still has a place in my heart as the firebrand who taught me many things in my childhood. She is no longer able to drive; but the memmory of those days in summer when we would spend dawn to dusk on the road, seeing the sights the state of Alaska holds for tourism splendor are etched in my mind. In a way, roadtrips will always remind me of her.
Let me travel back on the roads of my mind, to tell the stories of my memories; to recant, and recall the little old woman, with silver hair flying, the sun roof open, the sunglasses around her bifocals glinting in the summer glare, and the eternal soundtrack of Don Macclean and American Pie, and Don Williams and Love is on a Roll, and Johnny Horton with North to Alaska, playing in the tapedeck. She would be seated in the captain's chair of her little old subaru, her long-time church lady friend riding shotgun, and I in the back seat, a book, some juice boxes, and a plush companion at my side, plastered to the window, watching the rolling countryside as it sped by. No matter the speed limit, my grandmother's car took those country roads at 80 MPH, and though we never really seemed to go anywhere in particular, we were always home with one another.
It wasn't just in the summer, though, that we would speed down those roads; fall, and winter, weekend trips down miles of uncivilized land on a stretch of asphalt and conrete were not unheard of; sometimes driving to North Pole city, or taking a trek into thr wilderness to Chena Hotsprings Resort; which, at that time, waslittle resort, and more a swimming pool, a hot tub home, and a camp site. There was Chatineka Lodge, where we would go so I could spend days with my mother back during the times when my father forbade me to see her, there was Denali Park, and the summer we went all the way to Valdez for a week.
There was a summer we spent a month on the road; flying down to Florida, and driving our way through the states up to Illinois; spending weeks at a time here and there, seeing Disney Land, Manatees, wildlife parks, tourist traps, the seaside, returning home with sunburn so bard I've never fully recovered, and haven't been able to tan since. When we got our little Dolphin motorhome, there were even more times on the road; the folly of camping trips in the mountains during the worst rains you ever did see, or the time we spent near a river where the mosquitos were so thick over five hundred of them swarmed the windows if we cracked them even only an inch, clogging the screen with tentative, reaching snouts.
Sure, the road trips weren't always fun; but we were almost always laughing at some point. Even the time we nearly spun off the road and into a frozen river because of a moose crossing the road in front of us while we were going 80 on an icy road; though sometimes I'm sure we were both only laughing because we were so releived to be alive. But even when things looked bleak, there was always a little old woman, and her great granddaughter, learning from one another on those winding stretchs. And to this day, whenever I see a little white subaru in town, or on television, I smile, and I think back. And in some, cheesy, afternoon spoecial, or old time sitcom way... My grandmother and her car will always be in my heart.
Go, Granny, go, Granny, go granny, go.