Coffee Memories: Road Trips and Coffee

Motel sign on the side of the road

My husband was reading my post “Bucket Lists & Good Friends,” and he paused on the picture of my friend and me in front of our tent and said, “I like this photo!” Then he says, “Hey, your shirt says coffee on it!” I said: “What? That’s funny! That was my nightshirt.” And then we both started laughing and talking about my obsession with coffee and how it’s been going on a lot longer than we both realized.

After he pointed out my coffee shirt, it triggered a memory from that road trip that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. This memory only further confirmed my love of coffee. As if there was any doubt.

U.S.A. Road Trip Plans: A Short Overview

Recently graduated from high school, my friend and I began planning a road trip around the U.S. We made a huge list of all the places we’d like to see, and we used books to do it!  I know, how archaic! This was long before Google and still a few years away from Mapquest (does anyone still use Mapquest?) 

We bought a road atlas and mapped out all the stops we’d make along our journey.  Our trip took a life of its own, and soon we had a route mapped out that took us around the entire country!  We decided we could save up to take a little over 2 months off to make this happen. Thus the adventure began.

Road Trip Car Coffee Maker - Important Decisions

Before leaving on our road trip, I purchased a coffee maker that allowed you to brew your coffee in the car using the car’s adapter/cigarette lighter.  Hey, I was going on a 2-month road trip, on a budget, with a friend that doesn’t drink coffee! (I know it’s a sore point in our relationship, but I try to overlook it.) Going without coffee was not an option, and with my limited budget, I didn’t think I could afford to purchase one every day.  Thus my purchase of a portable coffee maker.  It looked a lot like this one. Now of course I would have brought my Aeropress but then I would have missed out on creating this “fun” memory.

Starting Out

Our route had us working our way through Washington and along the Oregon coast before continuing down along the California coastline. In a matter of a couple of days, we were in California. This meant a lot of driving and very little sleep.  We ended up getting a hotel in Crescent City after sleeping in the car the night before and driving on very little sleep. This hotel was also our first encounter with a cockroach.  Needless to say, I don’t think I slept very well here either.

So after leaving Crescent City, we drove for probably less than an hour before discovering beachside camping near the small town of Orick, California. Warm sunshine and waves beckoned us to stop and enjoy it!

We spontaneously pulled over and decided to camp here.  The stretch of beach used to be open to camping. There weren’t any assigned spots. You just found a parking spot, paid a few dollars, and pitched your tent on the beach.  It was great! We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the sun, spending time walking along the water, and listening to the waves.

Funnily enough, this was also the only time we used our tent during our 2-month road trip.  The rest of the time, we slept in our car, at friends or families scattered along our route, or at the occasional motel.  

Beach camping in California
The photo that triggered this memory. And the tent that was used only once.

Beach Camping & Coffee

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of the ocean. We discovered the night before that we lacked fire-making supplies (and skills), so I knew boiling water over a fire to make coffee was out of the question. Good thing I have a portable coffee maker sitting in the car, all ready to brew coffee! What better way to spend the morning than sipping coffee and staring out watching the waves roll in.  

I trudged through the sand and found my coffee supplies, I filled the maker with water, and soon I had a delicious pot of coffee brewing–no fire required!  It was wonderful. I walked back to the beach and enjoyed my coffee while waving to our camping neighbors, who were making their cowboy coffee over the fire.  Boy, did I feel superior with my high-tech car coffee!  

Soon, it was time to pack up and hit the road.  So we put our tent away, packed up the car, and prepared to leave.  The funny thing is, when I brewed my coffee earlier, well, I didn’t turn the car on to do it. Whoops! Needless to say, our car battery was dead.  

I can tell you this, if I had coffee before I went to make coffee that morning, my brain would not have been so fuzzy, and I would have thought to turn the car on.  So I blame this on not having enough coffee, not on the actual making of said coffee.

Some campers who were parked nearby gave our car a jumpstart, it was probably our camping neighbors who made their coffee over the fire. Now, who’s the superior one! Okay, I don’t remember who it was exactly, but I imagine they sat there quietly smiling and enjoying their coffee. Sometimes the simple way is the best way.

What Ever Happened to my Car Coffee Maker?

Remembering this gave me a good laugh. Then, I was also a little sad, as I remembered that my coffee maker mysteriously disappeared after that trip. I never saw it again.  And my friend Moe says she doesn’t know what happened to it, but I have my suspicions… I’ve come a long way since this trip and now have a variety of ways that I make coffee while camping, and I have never run my car battery dead making coffee again.

latte art in a cup

Coffee-Infused Memories

This is just one of my many memories that involve coffee. Others include sipping coffee on the lanai in Maui or at a cafe in Prague.  Even better are the memories with loved ones no longer here, like coffee with my Grandpa.  He liked it, black, very black. I would sneak milk into mine when he wasn’t looking.  I tried to be tough and drink his sludge, er coffee, but it was a little too strong for my taste. It didn’t really matter, though. I was with my Grandpa sharing our love of coffee as he told me stories of his youth. Coffee, much like food, brings people together.   

I like to think that I’m creating a sensory memory by combining moments with friends, family, and life while drinking coffee.  That down the road, I’ll smell a certain blend and will be transported to a beautiful moment in time. Yes, I admit, I enjoy drinking coffee because it’s delicious, but the added benefit of creating memories and special moments is pretty great too!

What are some of your favorite memories that involve coffee? I’d love to hear about them!
Off to grab another cup!
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