The Road Trip Equals Story Gold

Just off the top of your head, how many road trip stories do you have. Two? Three? My freshman college roommate said, “If you mention go, Lynn has her bags packed,” so my list is more like the roaring road tip twenties. Great stories can spring from road trips, any journey over roads.

My early road trips were taken in this 1955 green and gray pontiac Chieftan coupe, Pontiac's first V8.

My most vivid memories of early road trips were made in this 1955 green and gray Pontiac Chieftan coupe. Pontiac’s first V8, the car had no air conditioning and was stifling hot in Arkansas summers.

The road trip normally involves a car. But it can also involve bicycles, motorcycles, buses or, if you’re a backpacker like Peter Jenkins, feet. The road trip is ripe for adventure because it involves traveling over new ground or regular roads at a new time, with a new combination of people or for a different reason. Even if you’ve made the trip numerous times before, each new road trip is new paint colors on your story canvas because it’s a new day with different stops, weather, vehicle, companions, food and experiences.

Road trips can mean “mega-lifetime gross” gold as seen with films including Wild Hogs, Dumb and Dumber, Sideways, The Blues BrothersLittle Miss Sunshine and The Wizard of Oz. The basic formula in a nutshell can be seen in a story blurb for the recently released We’re the Millers explains the road trip gold equation in a nutshell: “So what could go wrong?”

On a road trip undoubtedly something is bound to go askew. Askew equals a new kaleidoscope of comedy. Things that go wrong in Little Miss Sunshine include major car trouble, repeated squashing of dreams and the ultimate story twist, death!

What went wrong on your journey? Did you get lost in a bad part of town? Did you get in some kind of trouble with locals because your house crashed down from the sky and killed a witch?

Another great generic road trip story tip we can glean is the more the merrier. Packed into the Hoover family Volkswagen van are father Richard, his wife Sheryl, their kids Olive and Paul, Sheryl’s suicidal brother Frank and Richard’s father who was recently evicted from his retirement home for herion use. While we can’t add folks who weren’t there to a true story, we can make the most of those present, even the quieter ones like Paul Hoover. Or like Dorothy we can add folks you meet along the way.

Be sure to expose the flaws or needs of those involve. Each member or the Hoover family and Dorothy’s entourage has some sort of psychological problem or need like a brain, heart or courage. Flaws give a flavorful taste of personality and enhance events.

Is there a sense of “we’re in this together?” Both Dorothy and friends and the Hoover’s unite behind Dorothy and Olive, respectively, to fight against wicked witches, one green and one a pageant-running queen.

Got storytellers’ block? Plan a road trip today. Maybe, just maybe, something will go askew for you, too!

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2 thoughts on “The Road Trip Equals Story Gold

  1. Oh wow, does this post conjure up some stories from childhood road trips to visit family in Texas and Illinois! And I tell them every time I am reminded of how no matter how many times my Dad took a road trip to see relatives — who lived in the same places we visited every other year, he could somehow lose his way and get on the wrong roads. Invariably mother would always sweetly suggest (beg) that he stop and ask directions so as to end the vicious circle of going down busy one-way streets the wrong way and circling the same areas over and over. Once in St. Louis when he finally gave up and decided to take Mom’s advice, he stopped and rolled down the window to ask a worker and the worker’s response had my brother, mother and I burying our heads in our hands in side busting laughter. When my father drove away and rolled up the window, we asked him what the man had said. We pretty much knew his response would be that he didn’t know. The worker was very expressive about his directions, but unfortunately he suffered from an extreme form of speech impediment to the point that my father had no idea what the man was telling him. After that trip, my mother never suggested he stop and ask for directions again. And we tired to just ignore and endure hours of driving through my father’s loss of direction until he finally drove out of it.

    Thanks for the funny memories, Lynn. I have more, but that was the crux of all the other road trip memories!


    V in Texas

    • Fun family memories!

      And getting lost is so much like me. Almost every time I drive through Memphis I get lost. And it’s not the easy kind of lost, but the kind that takes 30-60 minutes to find your way back on track. I vowed to pay attention and not pull off on any wrong roads this time. Sure enough, we made it through.

      Can’t wait to hear those memories!