How I became a Graytripper
"It's paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn't appeal to anyone."
- Andy Rooney
For as long as I can remember, our family has been heeding the call of the road and setting out on trips which have crossed from one end of the country to the other. Even in the early days when our cars were old, broke down now and then and didn't have air conditioning, we would all pack in, usually three generations of us, and head for the West Coast to California and Oregon, or somewhere up into the arid Southwest, or along the South Coast to Florida. Many of the roads were fairly primitive in the "old days", sometimes no more than one-lane trails into the high mountains that required some careful cooperation with other drivers when you chanced to meet heading in opposite directions with steep drop-offs to one side.
There may have been periods where we slowed our journeying down for various reasons, but more often than not we've averaged at least one multi-state trip each year. When the grandkids came along we swept them into the van (Big Bertha) along with us early on and introduced them to life as road gypsies, traveling over interstates long-since familiar to us but fresh and mysterious to them. They may be the most well-traveled kids in the country and today each of them, now grown, has kept out on the road retracing favorite places of their childhood and forging new paths that they will discover on their own.
As for me and the generation under me, we are now aging and are not quite so quick to drive for days at a time to re-mark our trails of old. Things closer to home have a benefit in being more easily reached and in some cases less well-known. Texas was more often than not, the state we had to get out of to get where we were going on those long treks. Now it seems to be the destination itself. Which is a good thing because it's a vast and endlessly interesting - and beautiful - state. Frankly, for as long as I've lived here I am surprised there is so much to do in the state that I either haven't done before or haven't done in so long a while that it's new again. I may not be able to hike for hours in the rugged recesses of the Big Bend region, or walk for miles under the sweltering humidity of an East Texas summer but that doesn't mean I can't still get out and enjoy the state on my own terms. Many of us La Salle-era travelers never shift back down to a lower gear, never compensate for being in the high mileage stages of life and instead decide to pull over and park ourselves back on the couch or in the rocking chair and watch cute people paint houses on TV for the rest of our days.
It's true, we may have limitations and they may be frustrating to deal with, but that's no reason to give up and say goodbye to the rest of the world out there. Whether with family, seniors groups or with each other, we can and should still be out there doing what we have always loved to do. For me, that means keeping the bags in back and the cane pointing straight ahead to places closer but still well worth seeing whether again or for the first time. We hope this blog will inspire you to get out there with your family and friends and continue to explore places around the state. We like Texas - both the old, weathered, rustic "cattle and oil" version of the state that the media focuses on, and the more commonly encountered modern iteration of it where there may be people who weren't born here and there may not even be chili on the menu. We also like the state's uniquely rich cultural history so don't be surprised to see some of it unearthed in the pages of this blog.
We would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the debt we owe to the crew of "The Daytripper" a popular TV travel show, for inspiring us to explore the world we live in and grew up in and in a sense to get to know it again. While Chet and the gang are frequently found tubing on rivers or climbing iconic rock formations on their way to scenic overlooks, we'll more likely be found staying a little closer to more physically accessible points of interest more suited to the gears we're using today. That doesn't mean there won't be walking (if it's a whole lot of walking we'll let you know about it) and that doesn't mean it won't be entertaining and rewarding. There's simply too much in Texas not to keep us all out there, rattling and rumbling along down the big roads and back roads of this great state. Come on and ride along with us a little while and just to keep it interesting, we will throw in other types of travel that are well suited to the mature way of life.