ROAD TRIP! Do those two words bring back visions of the crazy days of our youth? Mustang convertibles and VW bugs.  Beach Boys and the Beatles. Tossing beer cans out of windows and mooning travelers in passing cars. Some of you may remember those days. Others prefer to block those memories. But if I had to guess, I would imagine that most people do not have the wild memories that I have––taken with my favorite traveling companion of all time.  My mother.

Mom, brother Jeff and me not smiling as usual - 1956 Atlantic City.

Mom, brother Jeff and me not smiling as usual – 1956 Atlantic City.

While no one has ever confused us with Thelma and Louise, we’ve had our share of adventures. Mom and I attempted to eat our way through New Orleans and even lifted our shirts on Bourbon Street. I still don’t know why no one tossed us any beads.

Maybe you’re supposed to lift them above your waist!

We’ve line danced at country bars, attempted the hula in Hawaii and briefly contemplated belly dancing at one restaurant. We wisely chose to fill our bellies instead.

On a European adventure, we dined at the Eiffel Tower, cruised the Seine, visited Marie Antoinette’s vacation palace and narrowly escaped bombings at subway stations. Twice! Switzerland was a nice respite after our Parisian adventures. We climbed the Matterhorn, sampled cheese fondues, drank from beer steins bigger than we were and did the Swiss version of a conga line. Everyone’s favorite – the chicken dance!

Lake Como cruise

Lake Como cruise

Despite Mom’s confused versions of thank you––merci in Germany and danke in France, she was unilaterally loved across the European continent. Especially by the street vendors.

In recent years, our vacations have become shorter. Cruises are on Lake Tahoe instead of the Caribbean. Sometimes we’ll drive forty-five minutes then take a twenty minute pit stop. Other times it’s the reverse. MomXandXCindyXTahoeWe’ve both become more forgetful. I once left her walker behind.

She once forgot her teeth!

Last February, I flew to Chicago to help celebrate her 89th birthday and pack for her move to an assisted living facility.  Her eyesight and hearing aren’t what they used to be. But her sly sense of humor hasn’t dimmed a whit. When Mom discovered her new residence didn’t offer weekly card games, she began teaching pinochle and bridge to both the residents and the staff. Since she can no longer read, she now listens to audio books. Naturally, she started an audio book club. Now that spring has finally hit the Midwest, I expect she’ll be organizing forays all over town.

Although our future road trips will undoubtedly be far shorter, I know every minute of the time I spend with my mother will provide memories to be treasured forever.

Now it’s your turn.   I would LOVE to read about your stories, funny or poignant. One lucky commenter will win a paperback copy of Cozy Food, 128 Cozy Mystery Writers share their Recipes and a copy of Dying for a Daiquiri because, who isn’t? The winner will be chosen at midnight on May 15th.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there!

The winner of the Travels with Mom post is Susan Coryell. Congratulations to Susan. Thanks to everyone else for sharing your wonderful stories.




  1. Rae on May 7, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    This is a beautiful tribute to your mother!

    My mother is a character with a capital “C”. She is known for shopping all day for a pair of shoes. (At 90 she has at least 75 pairs of shoes – including stilettos. She couldn’t understand the big deal made about Imelda Marcos.)

    After trying on 15 – 20 pairs she will purchase one pair, and then return it within a few days. The return completes the consumer process. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Rae, that is hysterical. I can just guess what you’re getting your mother for Mother’s Day this year. Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

  2. Heather Haven on May 8, 2015 at 11:05 am

    This was wonderful to read and brought back a flood of memories to me. My mother passed a little over a year ago. I still have moments when I can’t believe she’s gone. My mom insisted on living in the hub of things, NYC, until her last breath. When I would fly to New York to visit her, one of her greatest pleasures was going for high tea at one of the finer hotels in the City. I have pictures of many of our fun teas at the Waldorf, Plaza, and the Ritz-Carlton. We would splurge and include a glass of champagne in the festivities. I even held a high tea party out here once with a lot of friends at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay in honor of Mom. They were wonderful times and I treasure the memory of them, Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! Enjoy being together while you can. Nothing lasts forever, but the memories linger oh, so sweetly.

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Thanks for commenting, Heather. I can visualize you and your mother savoring high tea together. I almost feel like I know her after reading your wonderful Death of a Clown. What a fantastic life she led!

  3. Jacqueline Seewald on May 8, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Hi, Cindy,

    You obviously have wonderful memories of the travels with your mother. My mother died too early, but she too was a great companion. A perfect time of the year for this terrific blog!

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Thanks, Jacquie. You are the best blog supporter ever. I’m lucky to still be able to spend time with my mother. I’m looking forward to my next visit in June – there are always new adventures to be shared!

  4. Betty Webb on May 8, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Your blog is a wonderful tribute to your mother and to you as well. My mother has been gone for a number of years, but I continue to think and miss her every day. My mother played cards and dominoes as long as possible and they kept her sharp. My fondest wishes to you and your mother.

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Thanks, Betty. My mother was playing cards three times a week at her senior center in Illinois. I definitely think it’s kept her sharp. I hope plotting mysteries will do the same thing for me although lately these characters are driving me crazy!

  5. Nancy Means Wright on May 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Your mother is obviously a delightful, adventurous woman, Cindy. I know it’s hard to watch her age, but if her mind is still vibrant, what more can you ask? Like Jacquie’s mom, mine died early on–the very day my first daughter was born. But she died at 69, in England after six months in her own mother’s Scotland. She was madly visiting old Scots castles and ancient relatives until a heart attack knocked her down. I want to die “on the road,” too.

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Nancy. Thanks for sharing although I sympathize with your early loss of your mother. I plan on visiting Scotland next summer so I guess I better get in shape. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day yourself.

  6. sara hyman on May 8, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Two of the things I thank my mother for: Introducing me to Shakespeare, which has taken us from San Diego to Ashland to Cedar City, Utah, and almost completely thru the canon. When we were in London together, one of our theatre experiences HAD to be Shakespeare. The other is introducing me to reading and specifically mysteries. My dad introduced me to Science Fiction, which led to a friend introducing me to SF conventions. When she discovered Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon, she brought me along – I brought my mom. The best was the trip that combined both loves – Ashland for Shakespeare with Bouchercon on the way home in SF. What a way to have a vacation.

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Mothers are wonderful for exposing us to the arts. I was bedridden when I was four so my mother decided to teach me to read (probably to give herself a break from my whining), which led to me discovering Nancy Drew. I never looked back. Ashland and Bouchercon combined had to be one fabulous trip!

  7. June Gillam on May 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks for these stories and photos, Cindy!

    I recall one frightening road trip with my mom when she drove to my sister’s place in Graeagle, in the Northern California mountains for Christmas one year. The twisting roads were coated with black ice, but my mom sped along barely keeping her car on the road–my nails carved moon-shaped dents into my palms all the way–but she was still the authority and I didn’t feel like telling her to pull over and let me drive. That’s when I realized she was getting too old to be at the wheel on mountain roads in winter. From then on, I did the driving!

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks for sharing, June. It is weird when we trade roles with our mothers and take over the reins, or the steering wheel! Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  8. Pamela DuMond on May 8, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Love it Cindy.

    My mom and I went through some pretty frightening road trips together. Glad you can enjoy.


    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Some of the stories you’ve shared on Facebook could make a book in itself, Pamela.

  9. liz jasper on May 8, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    One of the great joys in my family is to watch a slide show of our family trips from when my sister and I were kids. Usually it takes about three slides for us to die laughing–my mother leading the way– over her hairstyles of the ages. One of the things I love best about my mom is her non-mean sense of humor and the joy she finds and shares in the ridiculousnesses of life.

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks, Liz, and you’re right. My family as well as yours seems to specialize in self-deprecating humor. And there is always plenty of material to work with. Give your Mom a hug from me!

  10. liz jasper on May 8, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Great blog post, Cindy. Really enjoyed it.

  11. Donna Wierzbowski on May 8, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    I just returned from visiting my 90 year-old mother in Silicon Valley. She’s always been OCD–cleaning and gardening are her life!–and now she’s OCD with a broken record. Seriously, though, she’s always been supportive of us three girls and financially supportive of the sister who can’t seem to hold onto a dollar or dime. Mom had a difficult childhood as a second-generation Spanish American in a very large family. Had to leave school at 16, that kind of hardship. She’s always been the Rock of Gibraltar for so many of us of our generation in the family and now she has outlived ALL of her siblings, even the three younger ones. I sympathize with her feelings of loneliness and sorrow that everything she once knew is now gone. So sad…

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      I think your mother and mine would get along fine between the OCD cleaning (sorry, Mom) and gardening which she loved. We’re both lucky to have such supportive mothers.

  12. Paisley Kirkpatrick on May 8, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Roommate – a whole year has gone by already.

    I do have my day of fame and luckily the poor old man didn’t die. As you know, I adopt children of the heart everywhere I can find them. Our Dutch son got married on August 10, 1990 in a castle in Holland. He thought he would have a chance to talk us into attending if they chose a castle to gt married in – and little did we know, we were asked to be part of the wedding party. The Castle de Haar had two moats around it and the baron who owned it rented out the formal dining room for weddings. The minister sat on one side of what looked the size of one of our cardtables and Bert and Petra (bride and groom) sat on the other side. We, the wedding party, sat on a bleacher and the guests behind us. After the ceremony ended, each of us in the wedding party took turns walking across a beautifully polished wooden floor and a dear old man of about 80 or so handed us a pen to sign our name in a book. When it was my turn, I stepped on that floor and my new leather-soled shoes sent me sliding across the floor like I was on ice skates, and, yes you guessed it, I headed straight toward the man with the pen. The poor man’s eyes got bigger and bigger as I approached him at a fairly rapid speed. Then, thanking God and his angels for this, I stopped, straightened myself , walked maybe two steps, took the pen, signed my name, and walked back to the bleacher easy as could be. 🙂 The groom mentioned that my performance relaxed everyone because they snickered, or on my husband’s part, gasped. One the Bert’s brothers said I was already the center of attention so he couldn’t understand my slide. I will NEVER live that one down. 🙂

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      And that’s why you’re such a wonderful author, Paisley. You have so much of your own material! If it makes you feel better I’ve taken down two of my dance instructors – those darn slick floors. Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful Mother’s Day. I might even get to see you when I’m visiting Mom this year! Maybe we could meet halfway wherever that is!

      • Paisley Kirkpatrick on May 8, 2015 at 7:58 pm

        Thanks, Cindy. I would love to see you. Miss you and the phone we have together. Happy Mother’s Day to you, too.

  13. Rena Gunn on May 8, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I remember the first time I met your mom, I thought, oh, this explains a lot about my friend Cindy. And not just because you were/are the spitting image of Mom. Your Mom was so vivacious and bright and funny. She was actively selling real estate when I was contemplating my retirement.

    Norma. My Mom. Well, you met her and I am sure you remember her coming into the living room with an arm full of used panty hose (size 3X) after you mentioned that you didn’t have any for our meeting the next day! I think you chose a pair, but I am pretty sure you didn’t actually wear them.

    Traveling with my Mom..well, let me just say that she waited in the car when we toured Notre Dame in Paris, exclaiming she could see it just fine through the window, thank you.

    We love our Mom’s!

    Happy Mother’s Day to you both,


    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      Rena, you always make me chuckle. I remember your mother’s wonderful generosity and cheerful attitude and your father’s patience. And although I didn’t mention it in the article, my mother stays in the car every time I want to view a waterfall or scenic vista point, since she’s “not that much into nature.” Happy Mother’s and Grandmother’s Day to you!

  14. Mary Beth Magee on May 8, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Loved your story, Cindy, and I can see where you get your looks. You have great genes, my friend.

    While I was still living in Illinois, my mother came up for a visit and I drove to Stratford-On-Avon (Canada, not England!) for the Shakespeare Festival. I tried to get Mama to tell what kind of hotel she wanted so I could make reservations. She assured me we didn’t need reservations. Since she’d worked so many years in the hotel industry, who was I to argue? Bear in mind, this is the woman whose idea of roughing it was a hotel without room service…

    What we didn’t know was there was a International Dragonboat Competition going on that weekend in addition to Shakepeare. We arrived in Stratford to find all of the hotels overflowing. The last place on my list was an old nursing school dormitory converted to a hostel. Breakfast was included in the cafeteria of the hospital across the green. Praise be, they had a room. Two single beds in a dorm room, common restrooms and showers. Great rates and a central location.

    She fussed about the crowds of young people the whole weekend. She complained about no room service and the tiny room. She wasn’t happy about the common showers. We had a blast anyway.

    The dragonboats were astonishing, colorful and fast. I’d not even heard of dragonboats before the weekend. The Shakespeare productions renewed my love of the Bard. Mama loved the plays and the quaint shops. Every meal offered new taste delights.

    We visited Niagara Falls on our way home. Breathtaking!

    Halfway through Ohio, Mama tapped me on the arm and said “The hotel wasn’t much, but everything else was great. Now I can say I’ve been to Canada AND Niagara Falls. Thank you.”

    Made it all worth while. And I’d give anything to be able to take her on a road trip again.

    Love ya, buddy!
    Mary Beth

    • Cindy Sample on May 8, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Aw, thanks, Mary Beth. I miss your smiling face and your mother’s as well. You two always lit up the crowd at any of the local author events. What a wonderful story. I can just picture the two of you traveling together. Looking forward to seeing you in NOLA next year if not sooner. Happy Mother’s and brand new Grandmother’s Day to you!

  15. Lourdes Venard on May 8, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    I’ve traveled quite a bit with my mom and we always somehow seem to be stopped getting out of countries. There was the time we visited Niagara Falls. Coming back from the Canadian side, we had to wait for her. Rather than telling them she was a U.S. citizen, which she was, she told them she was from Cuba (yes, 40 years ago). Then, in Berlin, she and I were taken to a tiny room and grilled about something in her suitcase. It turned out it was her CPAP. Although this was only about 10 years ago, apparently they hadn’t seen those much.

    Perhaps we should just stick to U.S. travels from now on!

    • Cindy Sample on May 14, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Hi Lourdes. Can you imagine your mother and mine traveling together? We would have a great story. I can just visualize it now! Thanks for sharing.

  16. susan coryell on May 9, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Though shorter than five feet, Mom was a tiger. She was once hauled before the county magistrate for kicking the policeman who arrested her for speeding in her ’64 VW beetle. She chaired the funding of the local swimming pool, ran the PTA for years as either President or Vice President, and taught Sunday School. At 93 her heart condition forced her to move to assisted living where she was known as a bridge shark. Her last day of life she won the rubber. Miss her so much! Thanks, Cindy for a great blog. Your mom sounds like perpetual fun!

  17. Cindy sample on May 9, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Susan, your mother and mine would have made great bridge partners. What a great character. We need to put her in s book!

  18. Cindy sample on May 9, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Susan, my Mom would have loved yours. They could have cleaned up at bridge. She needs to be in s book!

  19. elaine Faber on May 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    All these great tributes to ‘moms,’ reaffirms my belief that great moms come in all shapes and sizes, with multiple attributes of excellence. The theme I get from the group is how much we all loved our moms and the joy they added to our lives. I’m sure all of you are also great moms and equally loved by your children. Thanks for providing us a place to praise our moms and remember them fondly even if they are gone.
    My mom was also wonderful. One of the few times I traveled with her, I was 9 years old, traveling with friends to Minnesota. Unexpected events took all Mom’s traveling money. We were abandoned by friends of the friend we expected to take us in during a two week layover. Instead, they stuck us in a tiny rented trailer, with only a few dollar in our pocket. . . I remember lots of days of only baloney sandwiches to eat.My mom read me the book, Little Women, during that desperate time. She never let on the financial crisis we faced while we waited for Dad to mail us enough money to go on to relatives. She never condemned the betrayal of the friends who left us in such dire straits. She was a strong, Christian woman who only saw the good in everyone. I don’t remember much about those two weeks except the time spend time with my Mom, baloney sandwiches and the book she read to me day after fay..

  20. Cindy Sample on May 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    What a nice tribute to the personal strength of your mother. I grew up on baloney sandwiches. That sounds kind of appealing????

  21. Linda Westphal on May 14, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    “Despite Mom’s confused versions of thank you––merci in Germany and danke in France..”
    It’s easy to do when you’re moving so fast through Western Europe.
    This is a beautiful tribute to your mom, Cindy. I enjoyed it. Thanks for posting.

    • Cindy Sample on May 14, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Linda. Thanks for checking it out. My mother was so pleased when my brother read it to her. Said it was the best Mother’s Day present ever. Love my Mom!

  22. Joye I on April 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Enjoyed reading your comments. i have taken several road trips similar to yours. I remember traveling in an old Chevie from Colorado to Arizona many times on old Route 66. I remember Santa Fe as a small pit stop with indians selling their jewelry out of hogans by the highway (not freeways) and stopping in the (big) town of Albuquerque for a bite to eat. We knew when we were closer to flagstaff we were home again.

    One trip my Dad stopped at one of those hogans along the highway by Gallup and for $50 purchased 2 10 x 12 ft Navajo rugs, 2 saddle blankets, a squash blossom necklace for my Mother and rings for me and my sister. wow One of the rugs was recently appraised in Santa Fe and is worth several thousand dollars!

    • Cindy Sample on April 24, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      What wonderful road trip memories you have, Joye. Santa Fe certainly isn’t a small pit stop anymore! Thanks so much for sharing.

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