Today we are taking a trip.
Not just any trip.
A road trip.
Not just any road trip, but the obligatory road trip of my childhood.
My family was obsessed with the road trip.
It was a well-oiled machine of efficiency.
There were basic rules to the family road trip. These rules are set in stone. Any deviation is strictly forbidden:
I need to emphasize that you need to re-read rules #1 and #3. If you are unprepared, it could be disastrous.
Now way back in the 1970s my family had 3 options for our travel vehicle:
Vehicle A: Family car. Purple Citroen. Great looking car. Cool inside. Drives approximately 167 miles between break-downs. Looks great sitting on the side of the highway.
Vehicle B: 1969 Pontiac. Car given to my family by relative. Large car. Lots of power. Can sit approximately 12 people comfortably in the bench backseat. Reliable. Gas tank capacity rivals a tanker truck.
Vehicle C: Late 60s “conversion van” that can be borrowed from my grandparents. Has a full kitchen and bathroom. Advertised to sleep 5. Actually can sleep one comfortably (and not that comfortably). Down-side is that family has to drive to West coast to pick up vehicle.
Let’s pick Vehicle B!
Now let’s choose a route:
Please make note that all car routes require around the clock driving. Please note that all arrival times must be between 2 and 5 am because relatives that we were visiting loved when we, a family of four rolled into their driveway in the middle of the night.
Let’s drive to California!
We aren’t pansy travelers.
We are weathered.
So what are we going to eat along the trip?
Puuuuleeeeease people! We have already forgotten rules #1 and #3. Eating out requires a stop of the vehicle. Eating out costs money. And for your information, money doesn’t grow on trees.
So mom is going to pack a cooler:
We are ready to roll!
We have filled our rectangular suitcases full of necessities and dad has placed them with precision in the trunk with skill that rivals an experienced brick layer.
The trunk is full. So full that a piece of notebook paper placed on the top of the suitcases would cause the trunk to pop open. A few extra things are placed on the floor of the back seat because children don’t need legroom.
In my family suitcases were NEVER tied to the roof. My dad would have seen this as a sign to the world of packing failure. That would be unacceptable.
Let’s show a little road trip pride!
Even though the backseat measures about 72 feet in width. This is necessary:
Within an hour this will happen:
Tears were the ONLY drink available because of rules #1 and #3. Unlucky was the child who realized pee urgency within the first few hours post fill-up.
Dehydration was the goal.
Who needs drinks when the sandwiches are of the floating variety?
And then this would happen:
To keep the kid’s minds off their full bladders game mania ensued:
The license plate game.
We were road warriors!
No amount of crying, screaming, bladder explosion or road trip songs would make my dad turn around and head back for home.
Nerves of steel.
We didn’t need a portable DVD player!
We could occupy ourselves the old fashioned way with whining and fighting…
But every once in awhile there was a quiet moment that I wish I could recreate with my own kids:
OK, not exactly this quiet moment since in the 1970s it was perfectly acceptable for children to lay in the back window of a moving vehicle.
But something close to this. A moment of complete road trip bliss when the kids are quietly listening to dad making up stories about road signs.
A moment filled with family road trip magic.
My favorite story was the ‘Legend of Falling Rock’…
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