The Rise of Captain No Plan
Several years ago, I found myself with a rare opportunity. I was between projects with about 2 weeks of nothing going on. My sons were between summer and school schedules with about 2 weeks of nothing going on. Providence I hear your clarion call! Guys Road Trip!
I began the process of planning and research. What would be fun for a 42 year old, a 15 year old and a 13 year old? I started making lists, looking at maps…
Nope. Planning is for suckers. If I was a superhero, I’d be Captain No Plan with the Ability To Wing It When On Vacation! So I didn’t plan. When She asked where we were going, I’d say, “Not sure.” When She asked what we wanted to do I’d say, “No clue.” When She asked what we wanted to see I’d say, “We’ll figure it out.”
So the morning of our departure came, and we loaded the truck. The four of us stood in the driveway saying our good byes, and I said to the boys, “There are highways out of the city going North, East, West and South. Any thoughts?” Almost simultaneously they both said, “East.”
So East we went. And started one of the greatest trips I’ve ever been on.
We had lunch at a Middle Eastern deli/diner in Madison that day, and a late dinner in South Bend that night. Great lunch, crappy dinner. But Notre Dame is a beautiful campus.
I chose to head towards western Pennsylvania and Washington DC the next morning because the sign for Sandusky, Ohio tickled my fancy (“Tommy Boy!”). And I’m right handed, so I naturally took the right fork in the road. Western PA is beautiful by the way, if you’ve not seen it. Unfortunately we drove right past the United Airlines Flight 93 memorial. I would’ve liked to have seen that.
We stopped in Annapolis to see the Naval Academy. We stopped in Philadelphia to look at a bell and eat a cheesesteak. We went through the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan. I should add here that She was very helpful in a few ways. Once we decided on where we would stop for the night, we’d text her, and she’d find us a hotel. It was great. She was Captain No Plan’s trusty advisor, Dr. Responsible McSmartypants.
Manhattan was great. The boys ate knishes bought from a street cart, their first street food. We rode the subway, their first time on a train. We went to Times Square, their first time participating in a human zoo. We went to Ground Zero, the first time they saw with their own eyes the aftermath of the evil man is capable of.
We drove north towards Boston, heads on a swivel. We stopped at the historic Mystic Seaport and had a nautically good time. And then we hit Boston. We loved Boston. Ahh, Boston…
So we’re in Boston. We toured the Freedom Trail, ate chocolate behind the North Church. We hung out at Paul Revere’s house (it was cool, Paul and I go way back). We ate dessert at 1:30 am. We carried a cannonball around the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy. We at beef tongue tacos at the MIT student union. We sat on a pier and watched rich guys compare yachts. Boston may have been our favorite.
On the morning we were to leave Boston, we were considering our next move. We were discussing the possibility of going home via Canada, but then realized we wouldn’t have the time. But it did cause us to ponder Buffalo, New York. The home, or Mecca if you will, of the great American Bar Food. Apple Pie and Baseball are child’s play next to the pure Americanism of The Buffalo Wing. How could we not go to the Anchor Bar? So we did. Sure, we also stopped at Niagara Falls but really, BUFFALO WINGS MAN! We ordered 50 hot wings, one beer, and two sodas. The wings showed up piled onto a pizza tray. And they were as good as I’d hoped. That bar was set high, and those spicy, vinegary little appendages cleared it. Captain No Plan and His Boys were proud members of The Clean Plate Club. The bar was big, obviously. The Church of Wings was also a little touristy, a little cheesy, and a lot crowded. But we had a blast, because we were three guys on an adventure, eating wings and not caring what we were going to do next.
Time to head home. The last move of Captain No Plan was dangerously crossing two lanes of traffic to take the exit labeled “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”. Ours is a family of music lovers, and it was wonderful to give the boys a taste of some of it’s history. It was a fitting end to a great vacation. We didn’t intend to, but ended up driving straight through to the Twin Cities, getting to bed around 3am, and putting 3500 miles on Her truck.
My favorite part of that trip was spending ten days out in the world with my sons seeing new things together, not knowing where we’d end up hour by hour. But we were pleased as punch that no one else knew either. We were together, we were happy, and we were squad.