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Family Road Trip Stories With The Cast of 'Leaving Iowa'

We are into the second week of performances for Leaving Iowa and our audiences are loving it! Director Allen McCalla says, "Leaving Iowa is a postcard to anyone who has ever found himself alone on the road, revisiting fond memories from his youth." This heartwarming and hilarious show, all about wild and fond family road trip memories, prompted us to ask the cast of Leaving Iowa to share some of their favorite family road trip stories. Leaving Iowa runs until the end of April 28th, give our box office a call at 864-233-6238 to get tickets!

"My family would drive down to the Florida Panhandle for a week of vacation every summer. We’d meet up with cousins from Atlanta and spend all our time building drip sandcastles, catching ghost crabs, playing endless games of cards and dominos, and walking down to the local doughnut shop for breakfast at least one morning during the trip. It was the only time of the year that we’d get to have Yoo Hoo chocolate milk, and we always came home with an annual beach shirt from the biggest kitschy souvenir shop that I have still ever visited (and occasionally, if we’d been especially good, we’d get a new TY beanie baby — this was the 1990s after all). Now one year on the eight hour drive down, somewhere past Atlanta in the most rural part of Georgia, my Mom was asleep in the passenger seat as Dad was driving, and my sister and I had gotten a bit restless. I decided to try to steal the ballcap off Mom’s head very sneakily so that she wouldn’t wake up. I thought I was doing great, when suddenly mom popped right up and said in a British accent, “Someone has stolen my hat!” We all died laughing, repeating her silly phrase for miles, and it became a family inside joke that we’ll still quote to each other every now and again when we need a giggle."

-Laura Sykes

"Growing up in Iowa, I am all too familiar with road trips through and away from Iowa. I have never had a negative experience in Iowa while traveling, but the surrounding states are a completely different story. During one trip my dreams were crushed by the state of Kansas. When I was in jr. high school, my father, my step mother, and I took a trip to Arizona from Iowa. My father is well known in my immediate family for taking his own "short cuts" which usually end up adding hours onto the trip. They did, however, often lead us to interesting and amusing roadside attractions. On one such short cut while traveling through Kansas, we saw a billboard that said, "World's Deepest Well, Next Right." I was pretty excited and wanted to throw a rock or something down the well and see how long it took to hit the bottom. We followed the road signs turning right, then left, then right again, and so on and so forth in this fashion for about twenty minutes. We never found the well. I'm pretty sure we ended up back at the same first billboard again. I was devastated. To this day, I will never trust Kansas."

-Carter Allen

Pictures from LEAVING IOWA

I have a lot of great family vacation memories because they were all so good! The one that came to my mind first was when we drove from the my hometown of Hampton, Iowa to Custer State Park in South Dakota. My sister was probably around 6 or 7 which put me at 11 or 12. Luckily my sister and I got along pretty well, so not much fighting. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my dad and mom still had to use the “We will pull this car over right here!” line. We did a lot of hiking in the area of the Black Hills and the Badlands. We drove through Custer State Park and saw many different animals and hiked a lot. One day we drove all the way to see Devil’s Tower in Wyoming as well. I was super excited to see that because of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We basically made alien landing site reference the entire time we were there. At the end of one of our visits to South Dakota, we took some time to go to a quarry and pick up rocks. I loved rocks as a kid (I still do!), so this was a really neat moment for me to gather as many as I could find. We collected a lot and even found some that were REALLY big. We laughed about how much our car weighed because of all the rocks we found, but to this day my parents still have large pieces of rose quartz and Formica in their back yard."

-Todd Janssen

Pictures from LEAVING IOWA

"As a child, I suffered from TERRIBLE motion sickness. Nothing helped and the norm of the day – letting kids crawl all over the car with no restraints – made the sickness even worse. So a road trip for me meant horrible nausea and sickness for at least phase 1 of the trip. One memorable incident was the time I had consumed an entire cup of cherry Kool Aid in a plastic Tarzan cup just prior to us leaving on a week long vacation to the mountains. That particular event rendered me unable to drink cherry Kool Aid to this very day and I’m not crazy about Tarzan either. I’ll spare you the details of that incident, but it suffices to say it was not pleasant and not the best way to start a vacation. Despite that affliction, I LOVED car trips and watching the sights go by. Every year, we’d take a week at the beach AND a week in the mountains of NC. Our road trips were unique because I was an only child, so there was absolute no bickering or fighting at all. My dad had a bad habit of steering in the direction of whatever he looked at, so I generally didn’t mention anything of interest that I saw for fear he’d drive through a guard rail or off the side of a mountain. We did all the attractions that western NC and beyond offered: Maggie Valley, Ghost Town in the Sky, Santa Land, Cherokee, Ruby Falls, Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, Tweetsie Railroad, The Land of Oz in Banner Elk, etc. We also were less than 3 hours from the beach so we road tripped to Hatteras Island, Emerald Isle, Salter Path, Atlantic Beach, and more. As long as dad didn’t have to drive out of NC (according to him, drivers in other states were “the worst in the world”), North Carolina was our oyster!"

-Beth Munson

Pictures from LEAVING IOWA

'I remember a trip I had with my family when I was around 9. We had gone to Myrtle Beach for vacation one week and one day we went down by Murrells Inlet, a popular fishing and recreational boating location for local residents and tourists. Somewhere between watching the boats and deciding to go to lunch, I heard the wind of adventure calling me and I answered. As my family was getting ready to go eat lunch at a nearby restaurant, they suddenly realized I was no where to be found. My mom started panicking and they went looking all over for me. As they were looking, my mom happened to look down in the marsh from atop a pier like structure and there I was down in the mud, almost up to my knees, chasing little crabs that kept popping out of small holes and running around, only to run back quickly to their tiny little hole houses. This made me more determined than ever to catch at least one. I didn’t want to hurt them; I just wanted to be able to say that I had caught one. Then, and only then, could I claim victory. I didn’t see mud. I only saw happiness as I chased these little creatures. Well of course my mom was not as happy as I was, and who could blame her. To her, I had turned myself into the mud monster of Murrells Inlet. And I was about to make my world premier at a very nice restaurant with my family. Oh how my family was proud!"

-Shane Willimon

Pictures from LEAVING IOWA

"When I was 11 years old, my father, my brother, and I took a road trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. It was a 12 hour drive full of plenty of “Are we there yet?" We stayed at a cute cabin on a ranch just outside Hill City. As we were unloading the truck, my dad accidentally locked the cabin key inside. We walked over to the main cabin, hoping to get a new key, to find that it was closed for the night. We returned to our cabin and my brother and I watched as my dad inspected each window until he found the one he had luckily cracked open when we first arrived. He proceeded to pop out the screen and open the window as high as the pane would allow. He looked over at me and said, “Well come on, do your thing skinny girl.” He used to tell me this when the ball he and my brother would be playing catch with got stuck behind the couch or on the rare occasion he had locked us out of the house and we had to pull this exact maneuver at home. He proceeded to hoist me up into the window and I opened the front door and rightfully bragged about how I saved our vacation for the rest of the week." -Claire Clauson

Pictures from LEAVING IOWA

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