My Empty-Nest Cross-Country Road-Trip to College with Ford

Category: Weekly Columns

I woke my son up to show him the just-arrived 2013 Ford Flex we got for our trip!

I’m about to embark on a road trip. Not just any road trip but one with my first-born son across America from Los Angeles to Boston to begin college. Not just any road trip, but also a huge journey from childhood to adulthood for him, and from a clingy loving dad to empty nester for me. Yes, I will have my other son at home, but the first one to leave is big. Our home will not be the same and our family dynamics will not be the same. Ford has generously loaned us a fully loaded brand-new 2013 Ford Flex for the drive. We are going in style!

Let’s start with the itinerary:

Friday, August 24 – Leave Los Angeles. Drive to Las Vegas. Stay overnight.
Saturday, August 25 – Go to The Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Moab. Stay overnight.
Sunday, August 26 – Head to Denver, participate in fundraiser for [email protected], play tennis with Brian Vickery, stay overnight.
Monday, August 27 – Go to Des Moines, stay overnight.
Tuesday, August 28 – Go to Chicago, stay overnight.
Wednesday, August 29 – Go to Detroit, visit FORD factory and FORD execs, maybe visit family, stay overnight.
Thursday, August 30 – Head to Cleveland and go to Newstalk 1420 WHK and do my radio show, visit the execs there, and go to the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Do #DadChat that night. Stay overnight.
Friday, August 31 – Visit Niagara Falls and stay overnight in Buffalo.
Saturday, September 1 – Visit Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame on way to Boston.
Saturday, September 1-5 – Boston. Arnie stays and starts college at The Berklee College of Music. Bruce flies home on the 5th and is sad.

I’ve never done a road-trip this extensive or this far. We’re clearly going to be doing a ton of driving, but having the incredible 2013 Ford Flex will make it very comfortable, safe, and fun. We also needed a car with LOTS of space on the inside ‘cause my son is taking his drums AND guitars! This car is loaded with safety features, the latest technology, a frig inside it – REALLY – and so much more it would take several columns to begin to describe its awesomeness.

Emotionally, this trip will give my son and me eight days to let go, have a great adventure, and create lifetime memories. Given all my Social Media activity, I will be blogging, tweeting, Instragramming, taking photos and videos galore, visiting people, places, and sites, and document it all in every form of new and old media that I work in. Oh, and there will be two Because I Said So comic strips…one already up – Dad’s Empty Nest – and the next on August 23.

My son will be using the Flex’s incredible Sony Stereo system to full advantage, playing music from his iPhone, listening to Sirius, and exploring all those great audio features. I’ll be wearing earplugs most of that time, I’m sure.

One challenge I will face is maintaining my vegan diet cross-country. THAT will be interesting and I expect I’ll lapse here and there or go hungry if I try to stay too vigilant. We’ll see.

Okay, time for full disclosure! Ford has given me the Flex in exchange for my Social Media efforts. I’m not getting paid. Further disclosure: the Flex is the car I would’ve chosen for this trip and has been my son’s favorite car for years. So, I consider this a lucky win-win, where I get to have the comfort, pleasure, safety, and fun of a 2013 Ford Flex for this arduous drive simply in exchange for doing what I do anyway!

Speaking of doing what I do anyway, we’re going to be having a very special #DadChat on August 23rd in which the topic will be “The Empty Nest Syndrome” as it affects both dads and moms. Ford will be there and will be available to answer questions about the Flex or any other Ford product and they’re generously giving away FIVE gift-packs to lucky winners. The gift-packs will consist of a Ford Flex computer friendly backpack, a Ford Flex 32-ounce water bottle, a Ford Flex pen, and a Ford Flex foldout blanket. But, the focus (get it?) of the #DadChat will be on our topic of dealing with The Empty Nest.

All right, enough of the disclaimers. I am really going through emotional handsprings, as my son’s start of college gets closer. I feel just like the sappy moms we often see portrayed when the subject of The Empty-Nest comes up. Why am I surprised when I so often espouse that we dads have the same feelings, needs, and issues around parenting as moms?

The cliché that time goes by too fast when you have kids couldn’t feel more true for me. I think of the lyrics to the “Fiddler On the Roof” song, Sunrise Sunset when it says, “Wasn’t it just yesterday when they were small?”

My mind tells me this is all a good thing, that I’ve done my job if he’s heading off to college and, in this case, The Berklee College of Music is one that suits his interests perfectly. My mind also does handsprings over the extraordinary costs associated with college and I pray he takes full advantage of all they offer.

But, bottom line, I’m almost as scared as he is. It’s a big transition for both of us…

Please join Ford, our great #DadChat community, and me this coming Thursday, August 23 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. PT where we can chat about this in real time!

  • dadblunders

    I hope you both have an excellent time! You shouldn’t think of yourself as beig sappy Bruce … Your a dad and you have feeling for your kids as, it should be. If it means anything its not that your sappy …it just means your human.


    • Bruce Sallan

      Thx Aaron! We will have a great time. Hope to “see” you at #DadChat Thursday, the day before we leave! 

  • Washington Parent

    This sounds like a wonderful trip!

  • Washington Parent

    This sounds like a wonderful trip! One of our advertising reps has triplets going to college this year. -Jane

    • Bruce Sallan

      Wow, THREE times the cost! OMG…

  • Shannon Grissom

    Happy trails to you both! How lucky he is to have such a supportive Dad, and to attend Berklee College of music! Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks Shannon! You’ll get so much from me on this trip! Blogs, vlogs, Instagrams, radio, comics, #DadChat, and MORE!

  • Mindy

    Good luck and safe travels! Should you need some shoulders to cry on, we’re just a T stop away.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thx Mindy. I suspect the shoulder I’ll need will be on the flight home – alone!

  • Brian Vickery

    Looking forward to your visit to Denver, Bruce…gotta get pics and maybe a quick video. Sounds like you will be riding in style, so I look forward to checking out the Ford Flex, too.

    Our oldest goes back to college next week…and the youngest is in her senior year and has a schedule that has very little time left for Mom and Daddy. We are completely empty nest in one more year. YIKES!

    • Bruce Sallan

      We need to lock down details, BV!

  • Arnie Sallan

    lol “bruce flys home and is sad” sorry that made me laugh a little.

    • Bruce Sallan

      NO comment, son…

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  • Daddysincharge

    This sounds like an awesome trip… Truly one that you and your son will remember forever. Have fun!

    • Bruce Sallan

      It will be, assuming we don’t kill each other! LOL…

  • Charles

    This sounds like a great trip. My wife is a blogger and owns a social media agency, and we have been given cars from that other car company to drive and blog about and it has been fun. Although I wished they had reached out to us now like Ford did with you on such an important trip like your making now. Our daughter is going to Columbia College which is also an art School in Chicago and after all the cost involved we will be lucky to pay for gas there. haha.. Have fun because I know how this is truly a bitter/sweet trip to make…

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thx Charles…it will be a great trip. It’s the flight home that will be hard!

  • dell sag

    wonderful and exited trip, congratulation and go

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thx so much, Dell…it should be quite the adventure!

  • LuAnn

    I understand what you are going through.  This spring I drove our daughter from MI to WA to start her first “real” after college job.  I own a Flex and would have loved to travel across the county in it but seeing she needed a car to get around in, we packed up our Chevy HHR.  It was tight but we managed and we will always have that time to remember and talk about for years to come. Now I get to ship the rest of her stuff to her.  Enjoy the journey!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thx LuAnn…I think parents miss a great opportunity if they don’t do what you did and I’m about to do…memories forever!

  • MimiBakerMN

    I’m glad my “road trip” of taking my daughter to college was only an hour long! I couldn’t stand the thought of it being even further. Ford Flexes are gorgeous vehicles. I bet that was a fabulous ride, especially for so long! And btw, I love road trips and have done a ton!

    • Bruce Sallan

      We haven’t left yet, Mimi! Heading out on Friday and #DadChat is tomorrow…Please join us!

  • TheRealMattDaddy

    Should be a great experience, and thank you for sharing it with us!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Oh, I’ve just begun the sharing, Matt!

  • Michael (VoogDesigns)

    Great and anticipatory article to your trip Bruce. Just got back from a road trip to Eagle, CO to visit family. 19 hours and we drive it straight!

    One day I’ll tell you about a very memorable road trip I took with my family in a counter-clockwise trip around the entire USA in one summer!

    They are lasting memories that will probably leave you wishing the trip was longer because you won’t want it to end.

    Now, off to draw the next ‘Because I Said So’…

    • Bruce Sallan

      I do want to hear that story, Michael!

  • Michael Ann

    What memories you’ll make on this trip!  I have a daughter in college (four hours away), a son in his senior year of high school with one foot out the door already, and a 2010 Flex, so I can relate a bit to you where you are right now!  Have fun together!  Enjoy that Flex.  I sure love mine!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Boy, you sure can relate Michael Ann! I hope you’ll join us at #DadChat tomorrow:

  • Bryce

    The report I want to read is how you got Ford to pony up a Flex.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Hey stranger! THAT’S what I do now…been telling you that for years! The value of Social Media is just growing exponentially!

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  • David Weber

    Very, very exciting trip.  I am glad you will be documenting in a variety of ways.  

    How is Arnie responding to all this? Is he rolling his eyes with all the sponsorships and stops?  Or is he pretty much into it all (apart from apparently being happy about traveling in a Ford Flex). 

    My mother reported YEARS after the fact that she suffered a GREAT deal from empty-nest syndrome when I left for college (I don’t have sibs).  One of her brothers got divorced and chose to relocate to L.A., where we lived before I entered college, from No. Calif.  He stayed with my parents for a few weeks and that took the edge off the empty-nest experience for Mom, because she had her brother to deal with.  He also was handier to have around the house (e.g., fixing broken doors, installing shelving, etc.) than I ever was!

    Bon voyage!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks, David. We are definitely ON OUR WAY having arrived in Vegas a few hours ago. We got upgraded to a real nice suite when I promised them a plug on Huff Post Live, on which I delivered a little while ago:

      Arnie is NOT happy with my sponsorship obligations though he does recognize the benefit. He’d rather NOT be on camera AT ALL so I’m going to limit that and try and focus on this dad’s empty nest issues and I’ve got ’em, for sure!

      Your mom was VERY attentive to you so I fully understand that she would feel the way she did. 

  • Mark Alves

    What an adventure, Bruce! My parents, who were teachers, took us on an 8-week cross-country trip when I was 9 and I have so many lasting memories. I’m sure Arnie will have even more since he’s older. Looking forward to following along on social media.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Yeah, but YOU had 8 weeks! We have 8 days and our car already broke down in the thriving metropolis of Dolan Springs. What an adventure that was and what a GREAT LESSON for my son in “staying cool.”

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