Voices from the Road

From Maryland to Maine: Retracing my grandparents’ first road trip

While I was nearing the end of filming my documentary, Everyone But Two, we were provided an RV from Go RVing for our last trip retracing my grandparents’ original 1965 trip from Maryland to Maine. On the morning of our departure, I woke up to pouring rain and unseasonably cold temperatures. Nonetheless, we had places to go. My trusty team of talented friends arrived and we packed up the Winnebago (which we named Minnie Winnie) with Thomas in the driver’s seat and Sarah, his wife, camera B operator, and field producer, at his side.

We quickly made some distance on I-95 North. But traffic was very thick for a dreary afternoon when we entered Connecticut. I had selected Totoket Valley RV Park in North Branford, 30 minutes from our first destination of Hammonasset Beach State Park. We backed in and set up for bedtime after a long first day on the road. 

A Class C motorhome stands parked in front of a home

My first lobster roll

After a slow start and breakfast at the 56 Diner (now closed), we reached Hammonasset Beach State Park. It was cold, cloudy, and deluged with water. Not much stirring but seagulls and a few stragglers. We took our time filming at the beach and I got a chance to use my roller skates, doing a few laps on the smooth asphalt. Because Thomas and Sarah had work to do, we headed to the Boston/Cape Cod KOA early and tucked in for the night.    

The next morning, we decided to push along for the sake of time and the lack of great weather. Eventually, we arrived at our next stop retracing my grandparents’ trip: Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. It was fairly empty on yet another chilly, cloudy day. We were there for a while, hoping for some organic interaction with other visitors. It took a while until a group of people from the South asked what we were filming and we exchanged conversation and questions.

The door of an RV stands open to reveal ocean views

We continued north, hugging Route 1 to our next destination, North Hampton Beach State Park, New Hampshire. It reminded me of New Jersey, Delaware, and even South Carolina beaches, dotted with surf shops and cute restaurants. We stopped for lunch at Ray’s, where I ate my first lobster roll with a view of the ocean. The interior was super sea-kitschy and delightful. According to the website, the restaurant has been “in business for over 50 years and is one of the oldest continually operating seafood restaurants in Seacoast New Hampshire.”

Driving along the coast was a peaceful close to the day, and we checked into the Saco/Old Orchard Beach KOA.

Diners and ice cream

Faced with yet another gray and cloudy day, we did the best we could and filmed what made sense. Old Orchard Beach is a typical East Coast beach town, minus a boardwalk. Our next stop was to jump on 89 North to Vermont. The drive was idyllic, with deep valleys, sharp hard rock faces, red barns with pitched roofs, and horses with flying tails. 

Our stop for the evening was the Quechee-Pine Valley KOA Holiday. Once we settled in for the night, I reconsidered the remaining itinerary. There were only a few places besides beaches that were recorded during my grandparents’ first trip to New England: Plymouth Rock and the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. I decided to scratch the museum, because it would be a hard place to film, and we crossed into West Lebanon, New Hampshire, for our first meal of the day at Four Aces Diner. The diner was super cute with its soda-fountain-type counter service and display of cheeky plaques. 

A retro style diner features a large menu board

Next on our tour was the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, scoop shop, playground, and flavor graveyard in the rolling hills of Waterbury. With too many tasty options, it was still easy to pick The Tonight Dough (Jimmy Fallon’s favorite flavor). We stopped in Lake George, New York, for the night, knowing we had a 6-hour drive ahead of us back to Baltimore in the morning.

Home again

The long return trip was easy with the help of good friends and podcasts. We filled up the gas tank and dumped the gray and black water; when we finally made it back to my parents’ driveway, I silently thanked the powers that be for our safe travels.

An old polaroid photo shows a family standing outside an RV

Through the screen door, I could see the lights were on inside. My father had invited his sisters and their husbands over for dinner. One by one, they poured out the door, flabbergasted, making quite the spectacle. I invited them on board for a tour while Thomas and I entertained questions from the neighbors.  

To say making my documentary has been a long road is an understatement. However, at that moment, I was glad that we had made it home early for this very reason: When all is said and done, family is my motivation for the journey that I have been fortunate enough to share with so many others. 

Carla’s trip

Meet the Roadtripper

Carla Brown

Carla's background is in making art, but little did she know that the creative road would lead her to the "actual" road. Her work has recently manifested itself into a documentary film in production called Everyone But Two. In the film she documents her grandparents' travels by trailer to the 48 contiguous states starting in 1965 by retracing their travels identified in their 35-year travel log. During this journey, she had an epiphany about the origin of her own wanderlust, it must be genetic. Any given day, she is daydreaming about the next place she will visit to share her travels to inspire others to join along on the adventure.