WOSTER: Never outrun your supply line: Great advice for war and family vacationsOur younger son just returned from traveling through England, Scotland and Ireland, and I’m not even thinking “So, Nancy and I have been working for something like 45 years now and we’ve never so much as thought about getting passports, much less using them.”
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
Our younger son just returned from traveling through England, Scotland and Ireland, and I’m not even thinking “So, Nancy and I have been working for something like 45 years now and we’ve never so much as thought about getting passports, much less using them.”
Actually, I was rather impressed with how carefully his travel was scheduled, with train times and rental car pickups and hotel check-ins and all that stuff jotted down well in advance of the day the kid drove to the airport to catch a flight across the ocean. Andy and Katie seemed to have a lot of time to wander where they wished, but the essentials were scripted to the final period on the last day of the trip.
I have a granddaughter who desperately wants to go to London, and I think she’s going to get her wish one of these years. I wouldn’t mind going to London, although I’d much rather travel to Ireland, actually, especially after a retired newspaper editor and long-time friend returned from a trip to tell me nobody who works with words can possibly not go to a country that puts its writers on its folding money instead of its politicians. But I’ve not been jealous about my younger son’s travels.
What I’ve been thinking about is the finely scheduled itinerary. There must have been a genetic breakdown somewhere along the line. Andy, after all, is a grandson of Henry Woster, the man who made trip planning both a science and an unpredictable adventure when he tossed his young children into the old station wagon, held the door for his wife to climb into the passenger seat and then got behind the wheel and pointed the nose (the Pontiac nose with that swept-wing super-jet hood ornament) east or west or north or whatever direction he’d picked for the annual vacation.
Henry Woster planned vacation destinations. And he planned carefully, going so far as to send away to AAA Motor Club for a map that folded page by page, each page a section of the trip with the best route marked with a brightly colored line. It was global positioning before the Apollo and Sputnik and booster rockets and moon walks. He didn’t mind sharing his trip map with us kids. He did mind when we didn’t get it folded all nice and flat the way he always managed to fold it. (Maybe a computer screen and a pleasant voice offering directions isn’t such a bad advancement in technology after all.)
What Henry Woster never seemed to think needed planning was the logistics of the trip. Anyone who has responded to a disaster knows logistics matters. People need to be fed. They need places to sleep. They need gas and, you know, whatever else. I only took two years of Army ROTC in college, but that was enough for me to learn this: You don’t outrun your supply lines.
Sometimes we’d start a day’s journey needing (why we needed to do it, I never knew) to make 600 miles that day to hit the town Henry Woster decided needed to be reached that day. Good plan. But five kids, one station wagon, 600 miles? Where would we eat? Where would we find restrooms? Where would we, oh, pause to stretch our legs and run off some energy? Great questions. Quite often the answer was, “Oh, there’ll be a spot down the road a ways.” Five kids can become pretty restless waiting to get down the road a ways.
Henry Woster had great faith, never more so than when he’d plot his 600-mile-day destination on the map and take it for granted we’d find a motel with room for seven people when we rolled into the city at sundown or after. Salt Lake City can be a tough place to find rooms late at night. So can Cody, Wyo., and that funny little town just up the road from Niagara Falls.
I still have vivid memories of neon “No Vacancy” signs flashing past in the gathering darkness, and when we studied that supply-line thing in ROTC, I thought of my dad and his wild family vacations.