A memorable road trip should feature three things: a good companion, a journey to places neither of you have been to, and visits to places and events that inspire you both. My road trip took place in 1985; my road partner was my mother; our adventure was a tour of England and Scotland in a rented car.
I had gone through a tough stretch and needed a break. My mother, a native of Nova Scotia and in her ’70s at the time, had always wanted to visit Great Britain. We decided to take two weeks and do it right. The first week we rented a flat in London and we did all of normal tourist things including day trips to Stonehenge, Canterbury, Dover and Bath where mother fulfilled one of her greatest desires to taste a Bath Bun. Mother was visiting all of the places she had read about as a girl; I was visiting all of the places I knew about from History. We were a great team.
But our big adventure began on Monday of the second week as I took the Underground to Victoria Station where I rented our car. My first attempt at driving on the “wrong side of the road” started right in the middle of London on a Monday morning. Fortunately, I survived as did the unsuspecting Londoners going about their daily lives. I then drove us up through Cambridge to York to Edinburgh to Oxford and finally back to London for our trip home.
There were three particularly memorable moments on that road trip.
- York– With my Scandinavian heritage, I was particularly inspired by York as it was one of the major Viking centers in England. At the time, they were in the initial stages of excavating the Jorvik site and it was fascinating to see the site being opened up for the first time in 1000 years.
- Edinburgh– We stayed in a hotel directly across the way from the famous castle standing high on the bluff above the city. It was a foggy Sunday morning as we walked up the cobblestone entrance and inside the gate. We had barely entered when we heard the unmistakable sounds of bagpipes filtering through the fog. It was almost a mystical moment with the sounds in the fog while we walked up the ancient walk. Was it 1985 or 1685? I couldn’t tell.
- Oxford– To this day, I am not sure exactly what we encountered that day but there was a procession going on through the main square. It appeared to be the mayor and other officials along with many of the college officials; all of them dressed in full and very colorful regalia. It wasn’t a somber procession but I guessed that it was an annual procession probably hundreds of years old. It was just a simply beautiful and dramatic procession.
My adventure certainly wasn’t outrageous compared to many movie road trips, but I can guarantee that it was a memorable one with a perfect companion. If she was still here, I would leave tomorrow to relive the trip once again.