The Anderson Family Travel Journal – The Campus Drop Off

The Ultimate Road Trip

“Inspired by Nissan Pathfinder, writer Chris Atwell has written a series about the fictional Anderson Family and imagined the adventures they might have on a summer road trip with Pathfinder. The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this article are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, or entities is intended or should be inferred.”


The Anderson family arrives at a special destination on their road trip adventure to say goodbye to their eldest daughter Malena. Malena is excited to start her first year at college, at her mother’s alma mater no less—Class of ’94. It’s a bittersweet parting for Denise and Darryl, but the preceding weeks of exciting travel and fresh-made family memories soften the blow. Denise, the proud Mom, shares her experience.

The past 24 hours have been an emotional rollercoaster. Yesterday marked the end of our stay with my grandparents in Saint Helena Island, South Carolina. This trip was our first opportunity in years to make the trip as a family, thanks to our all-new Nissan Pathfinder. Finally, we found a family vehicle that was up to the task of ferrying the five of us—and our dog Juno—all these miles from Brooklyn and allowing for an overdue vacation with detours along the way.

It was heartwarming to find my grandparents healthy and full of vigor as ever, and the kids had a wonderful time connecting with their cousins. All too soon, it was time to leave. The tears flowed when we headed out this morning, and I knew there would be more to come. We were on our way to drop our eldest off at college! Could it be? Where did the time go?

The drive to the school from my grandparents’ home in the Gullah Lowcountry was about five hours. Malena and I decided to give her father a break by sharing driving duties. And we gave her phone a break from social media (finally!) by letting it charge on the Pathfinder’s wireless charging pad while she drove. Along the way, we talked about the college experience and what to expect. She shared her excitement about being on her own. I did my best not to dampen her enthusiasm by letting on just how much I would miss her. But it was hard. How did we get here so fast?

When it was Malena’s turn to drive our new Pathfinder, I realized for the first time how much she had matured when I wasn’t looking. There she was, in the driver’s seat, using the Head-Up display, confidently navigating traffic like she was born for this journey. None of it should have surprised me. She’s had her license for over a year and has proven to be a skilled and responsible driver from the start. Still, watching her handle such a rugged “grown-up” vehicle made me realize that I was looking at an astute, confident young woman who was ready to take on the world.

Once we reached the campus, everyone, including our two youngest, Zane and Janae, helped Malena unload her things from the completely packed cargo space and got her set up in her dorm room. I handled it better than I expected. I know Malena will be fine. I’m so proud of her.

Now her father, he was a blubbering mess!



  • Wireless Connectivity: Driving is serious business and requires your full attention. If you have to use the connected device while driving, exercise extreme caution at all times so full attention may be given to vehicle operation. External device not included.
  • Head-Up Display: Never program while driving. GPS mapping may not be detailed in all areas or reflect current road status. Available Feature.