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’s Final Resting Place

Adam and I were rolling through the desert over the last few days to get the Truckster back to HomeAway.com’s headquarters in Austin, TX, wrapping up the Great American Road Trip. Despite almost hitting an elephant-sized cow and having some starter issues, things were moving pretty well…until we reached Austin.
We decided to make a pit stop at Target to get some last minute goods before pulling the Truckster in to HQ when we felt something snap. “Pull over!” I barked, “I think we blew a tire.” We coasted in to Target’s driveway (technically reaching our destination) and got out. The Truckster was slumping to the left but there was no flat tire. Not good.
After calling a few tow trucks and getting some street advice from pedestrians, we diagnosed it with a broken lower ball joint on the driver’s side tire. Here’s what ensued…


Oakland Athletics vs Texas Rangers and driving down the California coast

*I must preclude the following story by noting that my description of the event below does not do justice to the surprising reality of what took place at the yesterday’s ballgame. I promise. It was weird in a memorable, “that was cool,” kind of way.

After a few hours of meeting the fun fans who were tailgating before the game, we made our way into the park. We waited and waited to see someone slide into home base, but the score remained 0 – 0 for a good portion of the game. Finally the Rangers scored two runs! I cheered loudly in the mostly Oakland fan filled crowd, in hopes that the boys from Texas would hold onto the lead until…

“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and join us in the seventh inning, Oakland Athletics tradition of singing ‘Take me out to the ball game,’” Boomed the announcer’s voice.

Everyone promptly rose to their feet, music began to play, and before I knew it the crowd erupted in song. The stadium filled with the voices of spectators and players alike, in a harmonious display of unified sportsmanship and group effort.

The vocal styling of each participant increased in a crescendo with “one, two, three strikes you’re out…”

And the moment it was over, everyone returned to the seated position to calmly continue viewing the game.

Never in all my experiences of attending live events, sporting or otherwise, have I ever been more shocked to see such enthusiastic collaboration of attendees. It was incredible and unexpected involvement from the otherwise stoic – aside from the occasional outburst of cheering at a good play or the rare ruckus coming from a pair of battling vuvuzelas – audience.

John and I could not help but exchange bewildered glances and attempted concealment of our chuckles. I loved it. Besides watching the Texas Rangers lose the game to an incredible finish by the Oakland Athletics, this quick rendition of the American classic was by far the most memorable moment of the day’s event.

Today was also eventful as John, the Truckster, and I made an appearance at the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California. We seemed to have created a buzz in the social networking building because by the time we’d finished eating breakfast with a new friend there, the Truckster was the talk of the office! I have to say, I feel a bit privileged. Today I saw the inner workings of a website that – at least in my world – dominates a little thing called the Internet. So cool.

The rest of the day was filled with beautiful scenery as the Truckster made it’s way down California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Here are a few shots we captured of the awe-inspiring views!

We’re in a Pismo Beach vacation rental for the night, and tomorrow we’ll continue the journey south to Los Angeles.

Night everybody, Steph