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Getting there was always half of the fun

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By W.B. Evans

These days, we don't do very much advanced planning for an automobile trip. The Evanses just jump in the car and go.

But, if the destination is new, we get out a road atlas or let the computer map it out for us in great detail.

As a youngster, I didn't get to tag along on very many road adventures. Places like Ridgeway, Winnsboro or Charlotte were just about the only places of interest we visited. Those trips were mostly to shop for seasonal clothing or to check on relatives.

However, I do recall one trip to Tampa to visit Momma's brothers.

For a small town boy, those divided highways that stretched on forever were amazing. You rode and rode before you could find a place to turn around. I had to hope you knew where your were going so you didn't end up in Timbuktu.

We usually traveled down regular, two-lane roads on our summer trips to Myrtle Beach and most folks drove like they wanted to live another day.

You know, no matter where we went – near or far – we had a habit of stopping at country filling stations and stores whenever the radiator water got pretty hot.

Usually, about half of a water can would get things back to normal. An ice cold Coca-Cola wasn't always available unless the drink case was filled with chunks of ice.

Now, if any of the ladies had to use a restroom, we always stopped in the middle of a town.

Why? Town filling stations usually had the cleanest rest rooms, (well, at least most of the time they did).

Country stores were usually the best sources of information on farm crops, weather and the war. It wasn't the car radio.

Automobile radios were called static boxes because they roared loud and you couldn't ever find any nearby radio stations.

Momma never met a stranger and she sometimes talked to folks more than the rest of us on our road trips.

She was always more at home traveling in South Carolina because she said the folks were just a lot friendlier.

I remember the time we visited the North Carolina mountains. Shucks, those folks would just about run and hide whenever you stopped in front of their little stores.

Momma said that mountain people were a whole lot different than flatlanders (that's the very first time I found out that I was a flatlander).

I kept a sharp lookout on that trip, but I never saw a single moonshiner speeding down the hollows and navigating mountain bends to outrun the "revenuers."

You know, years ago, just getting ready for a trip was a major task that brought a whole lot of excitement to the family.

The car would travel dusty roads, but nobody ever left on a trip riding in a dirty automobile.

Our large, family-size Thermo had to be rinsed out and wiped off since it had been pushed over to one side of the attic for a spell. We usually made a special trip to the ice plant to get it filled with chipped ice.

Ice plant ice lasted longer and seemed to keep water colder than those ice cubes from the Kelvinator.

A road map was tucked in the glove box in case we made a wrong turn in McBee.

We never had to worry about speeding through McBee, since we were already flying low and slow.

We waved at folks sitting on porches or working in fields.

And you know what?

They waved right back like we were kinfolk.

Now, we roll out on the interstates and scoot pass the outskirts of cities never stopping and visiting with local folks.

The era of buying an ice cold, 6-ounce "Co-Cola" or a double stick orange popsicle from an elderly couple running a small country store is over.

It's kind of sad, too.

Half the fun of going on vacation was getting there and I miss that part.

These days, I can back out of my driveway and in a little more than eight hours, I'm on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

You can't drive on it, anymore though, 9-11 took care of that.

I'll tell you there ain't nobody in that town you can carry on a decent conversation with, much less wave to.

They don't want to listen, either.

It's all a matter of communication, somebody said.

I guess I should be happy, though. At least the static box will pick up something.