My first summer road trip as an adult of drinking age was to the San Juan Islands in Washington. At the time, I was living in Seattle. Kurt Cobain had just died.
As a rule, road trips are about the journey. My BFFs Molly (Juliette Lewis), Char (Winona Ryder) and I (a young Bette Midler) started enjoying our journey immediately after work, spending three hours buying groceries, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes until someone finally decided that maybe we should hit the road.
Road trips also are about spontaneity: We just started bombing up I-5 and didn't bother to check schedules at Anacortes, where the ferries take off for the islands. And, road trips are about stopping a hundred times ("Look at that cute bookstore!," "I need another latte!," "I have to go to the bathroom!," "I'm a vegetarian but I just want ONE McDonald's cheeseburger!").
Of course, this combination was a fateful one. By the time we reached Anacortes, the last ferry (10 p.m. for future notes) was gone.
We thought about finding a camping spot, but not really, and ended up in a $35 motel room. Nothing is ever too disgusting when you're young.
We headed for the nearest bar with an old neon sign, because that's what you should do on a road trip—find the neon signs. In Anacortes, it's called the Anchor Inn, a locals-only place where new people are stared down the moment they walk through the door.
We ordered a pitcher of Rainier, because in your 20s, it all tastes good. Molly took over the jukebox and, an hour later, we were signing up for the evening's "meat shoot"—a pool tournament for, what else, cuts of meat. Top prize was a pack of ribeyes. Molly and Char paired up and almost won some ground beef; my partner was an elderly local woman fond of spreading her legs at the end of the pool table and saying "Try this hole!" We didn't win.
Even so, road trips are the coolest.
Pacific Northwest summer road trips
Go North: To the San Juan Islands (400 miles). Be sure to check the ferry schedule.
Go South: To Sonoma/Napa, Calif. (470 miles). Be sure to hit the first In-N-Out Burger in Redding and order everything Animal Style (not on the menu).
Go West: To Seaside, Oregon (245 miles). Seaside is the carnie queen of the Ore. Coast. Crashing into your friends in the world's most beautiful bumper cars is worth the trip.
Go East: To Sumpter, Ore. (208 miles). Travel through beautiful eastern Oregon, including the Ochoco National Forest and the John Day Fossil Beds, to find treasures at the awesome Sumpter Flea Markets. SW