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[My hilarious blogging friend, Brian Lageose, wrote about epic Texas road tripping here, and it reminded me of my honeymoon.]


A long time ago in a galaxy state far, far away…

Okay, it was actually Texas in the eighties, and my sister and I were on our honeymoon. The Hub and I had just gotten married, and my sister and her husband recently eloped, but none of us had any money. Her new husband had to get back to work, and the Hub flew back to Virginia, where classes were about to start with him as newly-minted professor. My sister had some vacation time, so when she offered to help me drive my car from my parents’ house in California to my new home in Virginia, we decided it was as close as either of us was likely to get to an actual honeymoon.

It was January, and we were starting from Los Angeles, so we decided to drive what was left of old Route 66.

Route 66—”Main Street of America”, “Will Rogers Highway”, or simply “The Mother Road”—was commissioned in 1926 and finally decommissioned in 1985. It stretched from the Pacific Ocean’s Santa Monica Pier in California to Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive on Lake Michigan. For half a century, Route 66 meant fast food, faster cars, and the fastest route to California for everyone from migrants fleeing the Dust Bowl and depression to young families bound for Disneyland. [Image credit: Route 66 (nostalgic Version) by jonathan nickens]

We went first to the Grand Canyon, where we bought postcards for our husbands that said, “Having a wonderful honeymoon. Wish you were here.” But we didn’t stay long, because:

  1. The famous mule ride tours cost more than both our wedding dresses put together. [NOTE: not a high bar…]
  2. I thought a successful marriage meant I should hang out in the same state as my husband, a delusion which my sister was incredibly nice about not murdering me in my sleep for repeating ad nauseam supporting. [Over the years, the Hub and I have refined this to a rule guideline suggestion that we try to tell each other which state and/or country we are each in, which we credit for a long marriage that has not (yet anyway) involved homicide charges.]
  3. We were on a fast-food research mission to determine which was superior— California’s iconic In-N-Out Burger or Texas’ Whataburger. Don’t laugh: it was a long time ago, and there weren’t nearly so many of either restaurant (plus we had never even heard of Shake Shack or Five Guys).

As Californians, we had, of course, already done epic research into In-N-Out, and were pretty sure that Texas wouldn’t be able to compete. To this day, I don’t know the answer. That’s because shortly after we crossed the border from New Mexico into Texas, we noticed a police car speeding down the freeway from the opposite direction, lights and siren flashing. To our amazement, it pulled level with us, made a U-turn cut across the divider to come up behind my little car, then pulled us over and proceeded to issue a speeding ticket.

We were furious. Not because we weren’t speeding—odds are that we were, but it was Texas (and we’d been driving in a straight line for hours with every other car on the road passing us like we were standing still)—but because there was absolutely no way that officer could possibly have clocked us. He took my drivers license and informed me that the ticket would be a suspiciously round $100**.

**[NOTE for perspective: in 2019 dollars, that $100 is approximately equal to all the spare cash you have in the world until next payday, minus $20 and the potential refund for four wedding present place settings of Noritake china that you intend to return to Macys if you think your mother won’t find out.]

“No. Friggin. Way,” I assured my sister. Sure I was driving a car full of brand new wedding presents, but in the 1980s that meant I was transporting several fondue sets, a disturbing number of macrame plant holders, some old wine bottles artistically melted into ashtrays, a silver-plated toast rack, and a few items that puzzled us for decades (such as the wooden mallet with the intricately-carved wooden rings which I assumed was some sort of marital-aid but eventually discovered to be a cocoa-frother). None of them was going to fetch the $100 needed to ransom my drivers license or keep my car insurance rates from taking a disastrous leap, and I was pretty sure that sheriff wouldn’t take the new Cuisinart or the three-tier folding silver cake server in trade either. No, I would have to fight this  outrage myself—for truth, justice, the American Way, and to have enough money left for Whataburgers research.

The sheriff wasn’t impressed, but told me to follow him back to town where he made a phone call to tell the local judge we’d requested a hearing. As we waited, we asked if there was a Whataburger in town, but he said he’d never heard of them. At last, the judge was ready for us and the sheriff ushered us into the courtroom, conveniently located across the hall from his office (which also appeared to double as his house). He introduced us to the judge—his wife. My sister and I looked at each other, paid the $100, and drove without stopping until we were out of Texas.

Three things did come out of that trip through Texas. Somehow that “speeding” ticket/tax-on-having-a-California-license-plate-in-Texas never showed up on my record or affected my insurance rates. My quest for the ultimate roadtrip burger has successfully continued over the years—BurgerMaster!—without (so far) any unfortunate cardiac-related incidents. And The Hub and I finally took a real honeymoon which only involved a minimal amount of jail time, but that’s for another blog.

But I’ll probably never know about Whataburgers vs In-N-Out.

BurgerMaster, Bellevue Washington. [moans]

What’s your best roadtrip food experience? Worst roadtrip legal encounter?

 

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