Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own****
by Doreen Orion
I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.
“A pampered Long Island princess hits the road in a converted bus with her wilderness-loving husband, travels the country for one year, and brings it all hilariously to life in this offbeat and romantic memoir.”
“Doreen and Tim are married psychiatrists with a twist: She’s a self-proclaimed Long Island princess, grouchy couch potato, and shoe addict. He’s an affable, though driven, outdoorsman. When Tim suggests ‘chucking it all’ to travel cross-country in a converted bus, Doreen asks, ‘Why can’t you be like a normal husband in a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?’ But she soon shocks them both, agreeing to set forth with their sixty-pound dog, two querulous cats—and no agenda—in a 340-square-foot bus.”
“Queen of the Road is Doreen’s offbeat and romantic tale about refusing to settle; about choosing the unconventional road with all the misadventures it brings (fire, flood, armed robbery, and finding themselves in a nudist RV park, to name just a few). The marvelous places they visit and delightful people they encounter have a life-changing effect on all the travelers, as Doreen grows to appreciate the simple life, Tim mellows, and even the pets pull together. Best of all, readers get to go along for the ride through forty-seven states in this often hilarious and always entertaining memoir, in which a boisterous marriage of polar opposites becomes stronger than ever.”
What a hoot this book was…a quick, entertaining read~ I learned about this book from Jain in her fun review last year and added it on my very long list of books to read. The author, whose idea of ‘roughing it’ is staying at the Holiday Inn, is less than thrilled at being promoted from ‘Princess from the Island of Long’ to ‘Queen of the Long Narrow Aisle’ . Their journey in their 40 foot, 40,000-pound, 179-gallon diesel tank bus, is fueled with more than a few funny disasters, and acknowledged with a commemorative cocktail at the beginning of each chapter.
Their liquor cabinet is stocked with every kind of infused vodka or flavored liqueur imaginable for maximum martini mixing~ the only ingredient they seem to lack is a bottle of Dramamine for the several shots I would need to endure this bus ride :-)
Overnighting in Walmart parking lots, RV parks & Campgrounds, there more than a few mishaps. . .
“With all the disasters we experienced on the road (fire, flood, armed robbery and finding ourselves in a nudist RV park, to name just a few), happy hour, understandably, became somewhat of a necessity. During the few stretches without any mishaps, we continued this new custom (look, the memories still stung, OK?) and the happy hour habit became one of our favorite bus traditions. Even when stationary, we continued to adhere to it rather strictly (some might even say, ‘Obsessively’).”
Bus Phobia commences soon after starting their adventure:
“On the slightest downhill, I’d try to mind-meld with Tim, to get him to put on the engine brake, my foot stomping on air. At every turn, I’d clutch the seat, anticipating a rollover. At every dip in the road, I’d hold my breath, listening for the sound of bending steel, a portent of our imminent, albeit mercifully swift, midsectioning.”
“What was I afraid of? I kept asking myself. The answer was always the same: careening off the road amidst the sound of our belongings crashing.”
1 part rum
2 parts Midori
1 splash pineapple juice
1 splash sweet ‘n’ sour
1 white-knuckled squeeze of lime
“Pound martini shaker against emergency exit until window breaks or ingredients sufficiently mixed for self-medication.”
“What if someone makes a sudden stop? What if we hit an elk? What if the brakes go out? I keep imagining us careening over the edge of the road. I don’t even imagine the dying part, just the careening. The screeching of tires, the shattering of glass. But most of all, the careening. The CAREENING. I can’t take it anymore!”
Their bus approaches a bridge with a sign posted:
“Limit 13 Tons”. . .
“That was all I needed to turn my reel into a full-fledged centrifuge; I could feel my lunch quickly separating itself from my intestinal tract. ‘WE’RE TWENTY TONS! WE’RE TWENTY TONS!’ I screamed, contorting myself, even as my eyes remained glued to the road.That there are no armrests turns out to be a serious design flaw when the buddy seat is inhabited by a bus phobic.”
Love Me Bender
2 parts passion fruit liqueur
2 parts champagne
1 part raspberry liqueur
“Rest shaker on hip, gyrate, drink. If you can still recall that the love of your life is making you live on a bus, repeat.”
After a scare of an electrical fire on the bus Doreen has an epiphany–surprising herself that she gave no thought to her beloved shoes during her crisis, in spite of her history of “rampant & resplendent consumerism”. And as one would expect mixes up a martini in celebration… a lovely shade of orangey-red:
Fire in the Hole
2 ½ parts Bacardi 151
1 ½ parts orange curacao
Squeeze of lemon
“Hold lit match in one hand, shake in other. Bring together until hair catches fire. Make note to use only 80 proof next time.”
It seemed only fitting that I took a little road trip for Food for Thought, rather than staying at home to cook my book.
While they stop and visit places of interest you’d expect like Mount Rushmore, Graceland, Carlsbad Caverns & Yellowstone National Park, they also sought out local attractions and stopped in at area wineries for wine tastings. That was the perfect excuse to prompt us to get in the car to visit a local vineyard for a tasting that is a short thirty minute drive for us, that we had never taken the time to visit.
We brought a bottle back to enjoy by the lake with some cheese~
“ ‘Don’t worry, honey,” Tim reassured me. ‘What’s the worst that can go wrong?’
‘Flood? Locusts? Pestilence? And for that matter, rioting townspeople?’ I offered.”
In Massachusetts, Doreen rediscovers Friendly’s:
“As kids, we used to go to Friendly’s for ice-cream treats, and for really special occasions, we’d preface our desserts with one of their fabulous burgers. Being an East Coast thing, Tim had never heard of it until I squealed with delight when we happened by a Friendly’s in our Jeep.”
“We have to go! We have to go! I exclaimed, channeling my inner twelve-year-old as I bounced in my seat.”