The Magic of Spontaneous Road Trips to Meet The Ghosts of the Past

A snapshot of my life.

Picture 2

In a matter of months….
My Grandma Helen and my Grandpa Warren, had passed away.
My parents were in the middle of a messy divorce.
And it was 2 days before Christmas.
My Dad and I were in the living room, staring at our Christmas tree.
He spoke first:
“This is stupid. Let’s get out of here.”

Get out of here meant a 20 hour road trip from our small town in Florida to Atlantic City, New Jersey.
We were headed on an adventure to casinos, to the old seashore of good memories, to anyplace other than the hell we currently found ourselves in.
I grabbed the black leather pants and red keyhole back sweater my Mom left behind.
We filled the hole in our souls with 1200 miles of road.

I was 12.

Bad Company blared on the stereo as we crossed state line after state line. We didn’t stop except for dinner at a 24 hour joint at South of the Border. We wrote our names on a paper sombrero on the ceiling, while normal families were getting ready to gather for Christmas.

We weren’t normal anymore.

“A company,
Always on the run….
A destiny,
Towards the rising sun.
I was born shot-gun in my hand,
Behind a gun, I’ll make my final stand.
That’s why they call me…
Bad Company. I can’t deny,
Bad Company, until the day I die. until the day I die. until the day I die…”

We pulled up to Bally’s Casino at 10pm Christmas Eve.
We left at 5am Christmas morning.
And we fell asleep in a motel on a sleepy beach with a small Christmas tree between our twin beds.
It was called The Charlroy Motel.
It was owned by brothers at one point – one named Charles, one named Roy.

It was one of the best Christmases of my life.

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Me and the Big Dude on the tour bus in Boston.

My Dad came to see the show in Boston a week and 1/2 ago. And we got to talking about the old days.  And that crazy road trip Christmas came up.  Memories of spontaneous adventures.

So when Burke rolled into New York City yesterday, we got to talking about tour stories, and my Dad coming to the show, and I re-told the Christmas story.

And he said:  “Do you think that place still exists?”

Doubt it. I hopped on Google and typed in The Charlroy Motel.

Oh my god.

There was the Charlroy Motel, looking exactly like I remembered it.


“Pack your stuff.  Let’s get out of here.” He said.

I walked out of my apartment 10 minutes later with the faux leather pants on my body, my Cramps t-shirt, my toothbrush, my journal, a suitcase of old photos and the keys to the car.

And that’s how I found myself three hours away from home yesterday, waking up on the seashore in a motel from my memory.

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It is a ghost town this time of year.  This sleepy seaside town shuttered for Winter.

I dragged a black suitcase up the outside staircase of the Charlroy and opened it the second I got into the room.  Inside, were the old photos that my Uncle Warren gave me.

Me surrounded by ghosts of the past at the Charlroy:

I combed through all of them to find one.

My Grandpa Warren and Grandma Helen had owned a little bakery/delicatessen on the shore long before I was born.  My Uncle Warren told me that my Grandpa would put three times the amount of homemade jelly in the powered donuts.  He wanted to make them the best in town.

I had heard all the old stories, but I never knew where this place was.

But as fate would have it, the picture below fell into my lap.
My Grandparents’ place was at the Crossroads.
And the spirits guided the hand of the person who took the picture over 40 years ago, to include the street sign, so that it could clearly be read in the future by a girl sitting on a bed of a seaside motel in winter.


It was 11 minutes away from the Charlroy Motel.

And so, that’s how the magic of a spontaneous road trip came to be… when I stood for the first time, on this piece of land in my Grandparents’ history.

My feet found the same spot where my Grandpa once stood.

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The wind whipped my hair against my ears, and the ghosts whispered their story.


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