Road Trippin’


Create Your Own Visited States Map

This interactive map is floating around on the interwebs so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I’ve visited way more states than I thought, though a few of these are ones where I didn’t do much beyond stop to pee, have a snack or get gas, as most of my visits were during road trips with Pops and Momcat. We did several drives to New England when I was growing up, as summers in the DC area were humid and uncomfortable. Imagine living in a sweatsock or plastic bag and that’s what mid-Atlantic summers are like, though the beach areas are really nice.

My travels through the southern part of the U.S. were trips down I-95 to see my grandparents in Florida, and all my midwest travels are due to having family in Michigan. In 2008, I went to New Orleans on vacation: I went to Voodoo Experience, a 3-day concert event at City Park, to see a ton of amazing bands & singers, including Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M., Thievery Corporation, Erykah Badu, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, etc.; I wandered around the French Quarter; I had a hurricane at Pat O’Briens; I ate beignets and drank coffee at Café du Monde. Great trip.

There’s a good chunk of the southwest I wouldn’t have seen if it hadn’t been for three cross-country drives from Maryland to California with Pops. The first was in the mid ’80s. Pops signed up with a car delivery service and we drove a two-seater Mercedes out to L.A., cutting through the middle of the U.S. I remember watching the speedometer hit 100 a few times in the desert – Pops had a blast driving that car. In 1991, our second cross-country drive took a southern route, and that’s when I first remember seeing the road sign for Galax, Virginia – the setting for my novel in progress (which is close to complete, whoo hoo!). The third cross-country drive was when I moved to California in early 2000, the station wagon loaded down with my computer and clothes.

I also wouldn’t have gotten to see Idaho and Montana if it hadn’t been for a road trip with Pops. Last summer he did what I call Pops’ Poker Tour, driving his car to California and stopping along the way to play Texas Hold ‘Em at various casinos. He spent a few days in CA with me, then we drove to Montana, stopping in Idaho and visiting Yellowstone along the way. Gorgeous drive.

Just looking at the map and thinking about all the places I’ve been gets me all nostalgic for a good road trip. I highly recommend them, especially if you have kids who are old enough to appreciate them. It’s such a fantastic way to learn about the U.S. and how people live in different parts of the country.

Where would you go on a road trip?

Throwback Thursday: Pepperidge Farm Remembers

Recently my social media friend Starmama posted a factoid about the history of German chocolate cake. Turns out there’s no real connection to Germany; it was simply a cake made using German’s chocolate.

German's chocolate, baking chocolate, baking, cakes, chocolate

German comes from the inventor of the sweetened chocolate, Samuel German. What started out as a cake recipe titled “German’s chocolate cake” ended up being called German chocolate cake. I kinda want to start calling it by that original name again, but I suspect I would be alone in doing so, and all these people would correct me, then I’d get mad and go all Cliff Clavin on them, which no one likes.

This revelation reminded me of all the times Momcat bought Pepperidge Farm German chocolate cake in the frozen desserts section of the store. It was the go-to cake for several years in the late ’70s and early ’80s for my family, whether it was a birthday celebration or other special occasion. As a kid I liked the coconut-pecan frosting; it was decadently sweet but also had texture. Eventually we reached critical mass and became sick of the cake and its cloying sweetness. (We moved on to Sara Lee chocolate mousse, another decadent frozen dessert which changed recipes long ago. We loved our sweets.)

Pepperidge Farm, cake, frozen cakes, frozen desserts, dessert, German chocolate cake, chocolate cake

 

Remembering all those German chocolate cakes got me remembering those Pepperidge Farm ads from the ’70s and ’80s with the “Pepperidge Farm remembers” tagline. I can still hear the New England-esque accent of the actor in the ad…and now you can, too!

What favorite treats do you remember from childhood?

Throwback Thursday: Permed Hair & Cybill Shepherd

For the last week, I have been watching “Cybill” on Hulu. This mid-90s sitcom starred a post-Moonlighting Cybill Shepherd, and was similar to the British sitcom “Absolutely Fabulous” in that the two lead female characters were best friends who drank a lot and got into crazy escapades. Momcat loved this show back in the day and often referred to Cybill as “Cyb-Cyb.” Not sure why, but Momcat did love silly nicknames.

Cybill, Cybill Shepherd, Christine Baranski, Alan Rosenberg, Dedee Pfeiffer, Alicia Witt, sitcom, television
The cast of “Cybill.”

Some of the writing is quite good, yet there are some plot lines that really are tiresome, such as younger daughter Zoe’s (Alicia Witt) constant cynicism and BFF Marianne’s (Christine Baranski) obsession with Cybill’s ex-husband Ira (Alan Rosenberg). I do love all the cameos, like Tony Bennett, Phyllis Diller, Tim Conway, just to name a few. Cybill seems to enjoy all the people who guest star on her show, and they seem to be enjoying themselves, too. I also really like Cybill’s singing – Christine’s great, too – and the two women are very believable as besties.

I know the point of Throwback Thursday is to share a picture of oneself and a story. Right now my story is that I miss my mom and watching “Cybill” makes me not miss her as much. As for a photo, here’s one of me circa 1993, permed hair and all. (My plan was to post a photo from mid 90’s, when the show was on the air, but I couldn’t find the one I wanted.)

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Games People Play

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube, the six-sided, three-dimensional puzzle that was the bane of many a Generation X’er back in the 80s. It got me thinking about all the games I grew up with and the role they played (no pun intended) in my childhood.

My family loved games – the old school kind that involved tiny plastic or metal pieces, rainbow-hued paper money, and coated cardboard playing areas. Our den closet was the main storage area for our game collection; it was where you could find Battleship, Monopoly, Sorry, Risk, Clue, Benji (which was an awesome game). On a shelf by the stereo in the living room, there were two clear plastic storage boxes where we kept travel games, card games and 3-D puzzles.

Rubik's Cube, Rubik's Missing Link, Rubik's Magic Snake, Pyraminx, Ivory Tower, Whip It, puzzles, 3-D puzzles, games
Some of the puzzles from my youth.

Because I was an only child, I had to either convince Momcat to play games with me, wait until the weekend so Momcat, Pops and I could play a game together, or find a friend to play. Deena loved games, too, so we played many of them together. Inner Circle was one of my favorites, as was one that had plastic square pieces with rotating numbers that would change as you moved around the board (anyone remember the name of this game?). But our favorite was the Mad Magazine game.

board games, games, Mad Magazine, humor
Mad Magazine Game – never read the magazine, but man, I loved this game.

A few years ago I gave the game to Deena, who was so excited as she’d lost her version. We played and she beat me, and we had a great time, but it wasn’t as fun as when we sat in my carport on a warm spring day, avoiding the oil spots, putting the “this card can only be played on Friday” underneath the board when we played the game on a Friday.

Two summers ago I found a good home for many of our board games with my friend Kirsten and her family – I heard her husband was even more excited than her kids about the games. Deena ended up buying several of the old 3-D puzzles from me, too. But that Rubik’s Cube? It’s staying with me, even if I’ll never be able to solve it.

What were your favorite games from your childhood?

How Old Are You, Really?

Last night there were a series of really awesome tweets, many of which used the hashtag #ImBlankOld, about how old someone was in relationship to pop culture, especially ’70s and ’80s pop culture. Not sure what or who started the tweets, but I saw that BlackGirlNerds wrote quite a few, and hers were particularly funny. I’m a little late to the game, obviously, but I figured I’d share just how old I am in 140 characters, with supporting video and photo footage.

I’m CBS Special with the spinning logo old.

I’m Hypercolor t-shirt old. (I still miss that shirt.)

 

I’m driving a 1973 AMC Gremlin as my first car old. (It was a graduation gift from my grandpa.)
I'm boombox holding, cassette tape playing old.
I’m boombox holding, cassette tape playing old.

 

I’m Crystal Pepsi old.
I remember when ranch dressing only came in a packet and you had to make it yourself old.

So, tell me, how old are YOU?