Ready or not (Drive Day 10 minus 14 years)

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So far Wipeout is refusing the use the old-dog ramp into the camper. The metal makes a weird noise under her claws and besides, she’s distracted. Gary’s giving the Avion a final once-over and I’m stuffing 23 musty paperbacks under the floorboards to make it harder to reach the hidden gun.

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Prescott, Arizona: photo by Gary Geboy

We leave Prescott tomorrow for Nogales and say goodbye to level driveways, air-conditioning and hot showers. According to guidebooks, Mexico used to be a regular circuit for RV clubs. We should be able to find campgrounds but they won’t have electrical hookups or functioning dump stations. Glamping this isn’t.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

 

Guilt and guns (Drive Day 9 minus 14 years)

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Annie Oakley has nothing on Nancy Gravelot. She’s the 72-year-old, legal gun-owning friend of my sister-in-law trying her best to get me to ditch the gun I’m smuggling under the floorboards of the Avion. When I confess to never firing a weapon in my life she insists on teaching me basic gun safety and taking me to an outdoor firing range.

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Prescott, AZ – photo by Carol Geboy

I’m so nervous I hurl in the scruffy bushes. I come nowhere near the silhouetted bad guy. Because I’m the bad guy. I know this but I can’t back down. Not even when Nancy triple wraps the gun, bullets and cleaning fluid in separate Ziploc bags and tells me to hope the border dogs are on vacation when our camper gets searched.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Catch a ride with THE DRIVE at DC’s hippest bookstore: Upshur Street Books

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Why do I declare Upshur Street Books the coolest bookstore in all DC? They picked THE DRIVE for an event, clearly, but also because in the same down-home block you can have a drink at the Petworth Citizen, tacos at a legit taqueria, and even get your do shaped before the party.

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Ok technically it’s not a party; it’s an “In Conversation With” event — in DC bookspeak. That means instead of me sitting awkwardly behind a stack of books hoping buyers want signings, a working journalist/author actually asks me questions and starts a conversation with the audience. Which is why I’m so excited to announce my celeb-friend and amazing writer Sarah Wildman will do the honors. If you follow VOX news (that’s VOX not FOX) you’ll recognize her byline from all over the globe. But long before she wrote for leading news and culture magazines, we took dance class together at Joy of Motion in Dupont Circle. And then while I was off on the road trip through Latin America that become THE DRIVE — she wrote her own family memoir. Check out “Paper Love: searching for the girl my grandfather left behind” when you get a chance. Or better yet, come meet her in person next Wednesday night at Upshur!

Playing tourist in our own country (Drive Day 6 minus 44 years)

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Hitting pause for a few days with family in Prescott feels we’re cheating, or at least procrastinating. But mom and dad took a decompression/sightseeing detour on their way to the border too. Six days after leaving Oregon we peeled off I-5 in a camper that looked like Frankenstein’s creation and played tourist in San Francisco.

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San Francisco, CA: photo by Gary Geboy

Mom’s little pink journal catalogs the details that surprised her most in 1973:

  • parking downtown 91c per ½ hour
  • rode Bart, everything computerized – from ticket purchase to ride to rest room
  • China Town – good coconut cookies

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

 

Independence (Drive Day 4 minus 14 years)

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Every July Fourth the whole country throws a birthday party for Gary’s older brother Mike, including a full-on western rodeo where he lives with his wife Carol in Prescott, Arizona.  This year we crash the celebration in our Ford F350 and vintage Avion truck camper. Which, after three nights of boondocking in Walmart parking lots, I happily abandon for a real guest bed, hot shower and food that requires more than one burner. Does this bode well for my road-worthiness?

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It’s so North American, this flag-waving, chaps-and-saddle extravaganza. I’m practicing adding the “North” part when describing the U.S.– since the countries we’re headed to have just as much claim on the name America.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

 

Boondocking at Walmart (Drive day 2 minus 14 years)

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Not quite 600 miles into a year-long road trip and I have no idea where the nearest campground is or why one would exist here anyway. Let’s just say Gary has felt no urge to get out any of the cameras he’s packed in the storage box under Wipeout’s padded shelf. We’re approaching Springfield Missouri and for the first time in my life I’m excited to see a Walmart.

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I’ve seen RVs and 16-wheelers in the parking lots of Walmarts before but now I know what it’s called: boondocking or dry camping. You can read about it here, or in a beautiful photo essay here. There’s even an official website. I kinda prefer the term “independent parking.” Makes me feel less like a freeloader.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Hitting the road! (Drive day 1 minus 14 years exactly)

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Wind Lake, WI: photo by Alex Geboy

 

It’s a good thing the rearview mirror is now blocked by the camper wedged into the truck’s bed. If it wasn’t, I’d have to watch everyone I love getting smaller and smaller as we pull out of the driveway. We’ve both got our game faces on but this is completely unnerving. For one, it feels like the camper is a little off center. It can’t be: we’ve blocked it up, cinched it down, clamped every latch and ratcheted the chains that hold it to the fame so tight they’re straining. It must be the newness of carrying an entire house on our metaphorical backs. We are the ones off balance.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.