A Truckie’s Retirement

On May 30, 2010, the National Lampoon’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster departed Austin, Texas to begin an expedition around the United States…and part of Canada. Years of labor from the great Gary Schneider resurrected this iconic vehicle that symbolizes America, family vacations and a quest for happiness. Three months later, after fulfilling its duty as HomeAway.com’s mascot and goodwill ambassador, the Truckster officially broke down in a Target parking lot, but back inside Austin’s City Limits! After traveling through 2 countries, 36 states and 13,475 miles, the Truckster came to its final resting place on August 25, 2010, symbolizing the end of HomeAway’s Great American Road Trip. Along the way, we gave out almost 10,000 coozies and postcards, 5,000 beach balls and 4,000 frisbees.

The three Truckies, John, Steph and sometimes Adam, stayed in 36 of HomeAway.com’s vacation homes in 35 different cities throughout the United States and Canada. Within these homes, 27 loads of laundry were spin cycled and 215 meals (including oatmeals of every style) were consumed. Since we had plenty of time for cooking, Steph and I invented a new fish taco recipe that we may enter into the county fair next year. We kept a nice balance of trying new cuisine in different cities and preparing our own meals—a wonderful advantage of staying in a vacation home.
Since we earned the credibility to call ourselves professional travelers and bloggers, we got the chance to meet and spend some time with others in a similar position. In Virginia Beach and Washington D.C we met up with Mara Gorman, in Boston we spent two days with Kim Mance and in Seattle, Jennifer Miner hopped aboard for a few days. We also had run-ins with Keith Savage, Jessica from WhyGo Italy, Michelle Duffy and Kim and Jason just to name a few.
At no point was our metallic pea green compromised and all of our wood paneling stayed perfectly in tact. That’s fancy talk for, “The Truckster was never scratched!” I know what you’re thinking, “John, there had to have been at least ONE time when you were close to hitting something.” Well, it was pretty close when a mammoth cow was crossing the road at midnight, in the rain, on a blind turn. And then there were the times when the luggage flew off the roof on the way to…well let’s just say the luggage flew off the roof a couple times and nobody was hurt.

At the end of each day, we had the good fortune of coming home to one of HomeAway’s vacation houses and always having enough room to disappear from each other if we needed our own space (the inside of the Truckster is only about 10 square feet). We also woke up every morning and could make breakfast and coffee in the kitchen, which Steph and I could NOT do without. Any time her clothes stunk, I would direct her to the laundry room in our house, and whenever I was annoying her (I have a tendency to ramble) she could go watch TV, play some Wii or hang out in one of our many backyard pools.

We were never very far from downtown in major cities we stayed in so we always had fun going out at night. A short cab ride to popular nightspots is all you need to kickoff an evening out in any random city! Not to mention, if we had friends in town there was always enough room to house them.
What I may miss the most is telling people I drive the Family Truckster when I’m asked about my job. Or maybe it will be waking up in one city and falling asleep in another. Perhaps it will be the Truckster itself, that pea green, 18-foot box of joy! Whatever it is, I know I could probably win a Pulitzer Prize for my “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” essay!

Truckster Tries all of Saratoga’s Springs

NOT an overstatement!

NOT an overstatement!

Today was full of…wood!  We traveled from Portland, Maine to Saratoga Springs, New York for a Woody Wagon exhibit at the Saratoga Auto Museum.  With the exception of not being made of real wood and having a dead “Aunt Edna” on our roof, we blended right in!

Woodies!

Woodies!

We had a fantastic time at the museum, taking in all of the “Woodyfest”.  A lot of the vehicles were Fords from the 1940’s and truly spectacular to see.  I had no idea that old-fashioned Woodies were made from real wood!  The museum staff was also made up of inviting individuals excited to see us.  One man in particicular, Allen, acted as a tour guide to the area while fulfilling his museum duties as well.  You’ll see him in the video posted below.

Hood ornament face-off!

Hood ornament face-off!

The real story from the Woodies was what went on in the nearby springs.  I mentioned at one point to Allen, the events director at the museum, that I was battling a two-day stomach ache. He instantly took me to some nearby springs to help find the “Miracle Water” cure.  Saratoga Springs really lives up to its name!  The video really explains it all…

In Boston answering Truckie FAQs

Do not fear… the TRUCKIES are here! I know everyone has been on edge since we hadn’t posted these past two days, so let me put your minds at ease. Wednesday was our official break day of the week. John and I simply slept-in a bit and walked around Main Street of Hyannis in Cape Cod, eating a good portion of the seafood delights that New England has to offer.

Now you might be asking yourself in utter disbelief of our lethargy, why didn’t you voyage to Nantucket Island or ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard to hang out with the Kennedy family? Perhaps you should have spent a day on the sandy beaches that Cape Cod is known for!

In response, all I have to say is… blame the Truckster. Yup, that’s right. The metallic pea trickster of a Truckster wore me out. I was tired. We had such an incredible night at the Wellfleet Drive-In movie theater seeing Toy Story 3 the night before, that by the time we got home it was WAY passed my bed time, AND we had to drop the Truckster off at the shop for some regular maintenance.

I use that term loosely because the only thing regular about the maintenance the Queen ended up requiring was the kind you get for driving the 1983 Wagon Queen Family Truckster over 5,000 miles in 5 weeks… with no ‘final destination’ in sight! Needless-to-say, she took a little longer than expected in the shop, which gave John and I an extra day away from the Truckster – just enough time to realize how much we missed her.  Those guys at Morrison Motorworks in Hyannis worked their magic and the Truckster we picked-up this morning drove like new.

It just goes to show, sometimes all you need is some time apart, some good ol’ fashioned R&R and maybe even some personal pampering (the Wagon Queen’s facelift has done wonders) to remember how good it feels to have asphalt under your tires.

Which brings me to the present. We made it to BOSTON! I could not be more excited about the next few days of looming fun that’s waiting for us! Tonight we will be joined by travel writer extraordinaire, mastermind of TBEX, and one of the lovely hosts you can watch in the Web travel series on www.galavanting.tv, Kim Mance. She and her family will be joining HomeAway’s Great American Road Trip for two days – including (but not limited to) the 4th of July! John is one of America’s loudest and proudest (male) cheerleaders and I love all things gaudy that sparkle.  =) Did some one say baseball and fireworks??? If you’re in town, stop by the Mercantile Bank across from the green monster to get your photo with the Family Truckster on your way into Fenway this Sunday. We’ll be there all morning, parked and ready for our close-up, while hanging out with Boston’s Sports Radio Network WEEI-FM.

I’ll leave you with this short video John and I recorded…

En Route to VA Beach to Meet Some Friends

Howdy friends!

I had the most excellent weekend back in Texas, watching my sister officially vow into a new world of adulthood where she has a husband and can be called by the name “Smith.” Even now, it’s still crazy for me to think of her as married – but I couldn’t be more excited for her future. Congrats sis and you too, new brother!

Steph's sister's wedding

All cleaned up for the big event - not bad for a Truckie, huh?

I also have to give a shout out to my whole family who claims to read this thing… y’all are the best! Thanks for keeping tabs on John, the Truckster and I throughout our travels.

The lucky honeymooners are heading to Greece, but I’m not jealous. As I type this, John is behind the wheel and leading the way to Virgina Beach. AND best of all, a travel blogger and son, Mara – The Mother of All Trips – and Tommy, are joining us for a few days to get a taste of the road ‘Truckster’ style. Plus it’s Mara’s birthday tomorrow! What could be better than turning over a new decade in your life in a throw-back, wood paneled station wagon? =)

We’ll keep you informed, but you can also check out her experiences with the Truckster here:

(Blog) http://www.motherofalltrips.com/

(Twitter) @motherofalltrip

PS – The craziest thing happened to me yesterday when I said ‘happy trails’ to the ‘big and bright’ stars of the Texas sky. It was storming around Charlotte, NC and I spent the plane flight watching lightning illuminate the storm clouds out of my window-seat view. I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried, but it was an awesome show that made me truly thankful to be traveling for the rest of this summer on four-wheels in the smooth ride that IS the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Plus, I know John missed me. It’s good to be back!

“Long live the HomeAway Great American Road Trip!”

-Steph