Part of being American, I believe, is the love of a good road trip. And, I’ll readily admit, it is something that is dearly missed in China. When I was a kid (back in the good old days before all the safety laws), many an hour was spent in Bessy Green Bus with extended family in Illinois and Michigan. Sitting on the floor in the back around the cooler, Dad spent hours teaching us card game strategy while Mom drove, seeing how many hours she could get out of  one lemon drop.

To say I love a road trip is a bit like saying I love oxygen.

I was lucky to get the chance to pre-read Shawn Smucker’s new book, How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp and Other Tales from our 10,000 Mile Adventure.

road trip

This is what I wrote for a review on Amazon:

The beauty of a road trip is the opportunity to reflect, veg and ultimately evaluate as the miles go by. I thought I was going on a road trip with Shawn and his family, but this book took me on my own personal trip. I ‘came home’ excited, worn out, and having been given the space to reflect on my own journey.

I can’t find the adequate description for the style — it’s not pure travelogue nor memoir, yet there is a reflective aspect to it I hadn’t expected. Shawn has created a new category: road trip. This is one to be saved, savored, and revisited.

(p.s. I rarely give four stars. This is high praise from me. High.)

And if that isn’t enough for you, here is a short excerpt to wet your whistle:

At one point I leaned my head back and look up into that sky, immeasurable. Stars starred down. It caught me unawares, the realiztion that the slaves buried in that graveyard once looked up at the same sky, the same stars. Many of them had given birth to their children in a dark night such as that one. Many of them had exhaled their last breath under those same constellations. The molecules that made up their bodies were there, all around me.

And to be honest, I didn’t know what to do with that, because as I let my soul touch just the edge of that cold, mostly buried rock of injustice, my throat ached and constricted, and my eyes felt heavy and inhabited by too much emotion.


I’m in a “I need to get all of this junk of out my life” phase and have been purging this fall. I’m not going to part with this book. Thanks Shawn and Maile.

Q4U: Any other road trippers out there? Share a memorable one in the comments. I once drove 17 hours to see a KU basketball game in North Carolina … on an impulse!

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  1. CQ MB December 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Our most ridiculous family road trip moment was my last Christmas before moving to China. That year we had a serious Christmas blizzard that came in on Christmas Eve. Im talking 8+ inches of snow, which is A LOT for Oklahoma. Our state doesnt have the means to snow plow everything in one day. But we decided to drive to Arkansas anyway to see our family. It took us 2 hours to basically go 5 miles. Then we got stuck behind a semi accident on the highway. SO my dad decided to drive down a STEEP EMBANKMENT to get off the highway. OF COURSE we got stuck, and thankfully there were some guys with a truck and chains helping other people… who got legitimately stuck instead of doing something ridiculous like going off the side of the highway into a huge snow drift. The day was saved, and we went back home.

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      Amy December 14, 2012 at 5:22 am - Reply

      Oh the things we’ll do to be with family :)

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  3. Kari Scare December 14, 2012 at 5:07 am - Reply

    We LOVE road trips. Some of our best family memories have happened on road trips. We’ve driven to Colorado from Michigan (18 hours) without stopping to sleep. We’ve driven the California coastline from SF to LA (flew to CA from MI) and then drove to the Grand Canyon and into New Mexico. We’ve driven to Virginia a couple times too and are going to Myrtle Beach at the end of the month. We laugh and play games and talk. We do puzzles, read and answer trivia. Yes, sometimes there are movies, but really not for a great deal of the trip. For us, the drive has become part of the vacation and not just a way to get to/from our vacation destination. I love the family bonding that takes place during “windshield time.” In fact, when each of my boys get their driver’s license (one is 14 and the other 12), I plan to take them on road trips to spend time together and let them practice driving.

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      Amy December 14, 2012 at 5:23 am - Reply

      Me too! I love the bonding that comes out of them :)!!

  4. Melinda Oberhelman December 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Heather still talks about the trip to South Carolina! What a special memory that was for her also!!

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      Amy December 14, 2012 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      I’m tickled to hear that after all these years she remembers it too :)

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