A journey on the road of American greatness

Craig Hall, Publisher

That’s exactly what my family took over 12 days in March, and the trip was everything I dreamed it would be and how I always remembered it was.

Our recent road trip brought back childhood memories of the enjoyment I always felt riding in our Country Squire station wagon along the interstate, refueling at truck stops at night and following a map to reach our destinations. Back then, family trips took us to New Jersey, where my mom’s parents lived, and up and down the East Coast. Those trips involved my parents and four rather rambunctious young men, road atlases, license plate and alphabet games and duck canvas-wrapped luggage atop the fake-wood-paneled old V-8.

While a packed-to-the-gills Pacifica, dual monitor video system, Nintendo games, a Garmin, two daughters and Nikki and I replaced the key players from yesteryear,  a road trip still offers the nostalgia that embodies everything that makes this country so great. And that’s simply because of where you go and who you meet along the way. Let me tell you about some of the folks we ran into.

Before we left, we visited Fisher’s Liquor Barn and Grande River Vineyards for supplies for mom and dad, Safeway for goodies for the kids and gas and, of course, Starbucks for hitting the road with extra fuel. Our first stop was St. George, Utah, where we spent the night and shopped at the outlets for the kids at Oshkosh B’Gosh, Justice, Payless Shoe Source for us and, of course, Starbucks for the short hop to Vegas, baby.

We got to Las Vegas in good time and checked into a Hilton Garden Suites for the night (our room was nicer than my first apartment) before heading off to see Hoover Dam. Damn, that thing is huge! We got the kids some McDonald’s for lunch before heading back to relax by the pool for a bit and dinner at Benihana’s, a place where I seem to lose $150 almost as fast as at the casino tables.

After grabbing yet another Starbucks the next morning (I blame Nikki), it was off to San Diego via my good friend Dave Manning’s house. The reason for the stop was that Dave had secured a round of golf at LaCosta through his Taylor Made golf sales rep. Dave also had two new clubs waiting for me from his business, GolfEtail.com, that he started in his garage and now runs out of a huge warehouse while buying semi-trailers full of clubs from manufacturers. We enjoyed the golf and the visit with Dave and his family while ordering pizza from Domino’s — twice.

While in San Diego, we visited Sea World, Balboa Park, Coronado Island and Old Town. We ate at great restaurants like World Famous, The Fish Market (right next door to that beacon of peace, strength and American pride, the USS Midway) and Casa Guadalajara over a wonderful four days.

The next leg of the trip took us to our main destination: Anaheim for my oldest daughter’s national dance competition and a visit to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. My daughter is a member of Express All Stars’ Pony Express dance team. You may know them, they’re a multi-national championship-winning team here in Junction owned and operated by Tena Preuss. We sure covered a lot of ground over the next five days between Disneyland, the Paradise Pier Hotel and the convention center where the competition was held. We enjoyed great food at the Rainforest Café, House of Blues and Cheesecake Factory.

I’ll never forget the looks of wonder as my daughters remained on the lookout for princesses  at Disneyland. We did catch Snow White for a photograph. I would give all to bottle the preciousness of Maya’s face as we went under the sea on Ariel’s ride, Evin’s laughter on Space Mountain or the oohs and ahhs heard from Soaring California. I will also tear up every time I recall seeing my beautiful daughter Evin in her blue costume for jazz dance or the fun the girls had doing their pom routine for USA Nationals. Heck, I cried there.

One last night in another Hilton after the competition ended, one stopover in Vegas at the same Hilton as before with the requisite visit to Beni, Beni, Beni and a few Starbucks later, we made it home safe and sound so I could share all of this with you. I’d have asked you to join us, but there wasn’t room. Plus, that would eliminate my opportunity to entertain you with my version of the “Oh my gosh! Not the home movies and vacation slides!”

Now, you might I ask why I mentioned so many business in my column. You’re catching on to the main point. Absolutely everything we did and enjoyed on this trip was the result of someone’s dream and vision to create products or services for other to buy and enjoy. No one forced us to do a thing and we gave gladly. Aside from the roads, the dam and the Midway, the government had nothing to do with our trip or the success of these businesses.

Amazing, isn’t it? It’s just like the founding fathers had planned things to be.