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Friday, May 25, 2012

Road Trip!



In just over a week's time I will be taking my four and six year boys on the time-honored, All American, designed to make Mom lose her schmidt, ROAD TRIP!
Hello darling. I just called because I heard you lost your effin' mind!



The reasons behind making the trip are a little bit sad and a little bit happy.

My grandmother is ninety-two and has gotten much more frail in the last few years. My dad (who is to blame for this cockamamie idea), would like to see his mom again for what might possibly be the last time. And he asked if we would like to come with him and, of course, we do. I miss my grandmother, I haven't seen her nearly as much as I would have liked to in the last decade, and I'm not very good on the phone.

(Ask anyone. I do not enjoy the telephone. Talk fast, get to the point and let me get back to parenting/cooking/writing/watching The Daily Show.)

But it's happy, because we get to see her, and the rest of my dad's family, and some very good friends that we don't get to visit nearly often enough. So, there's that.

Because it would be ridiculously expensive and chaotic to fly with the munchkins, we decided to make the drive from North Carolina to Connecticut in my mini-van instead. It's about a full day's drive, not too bad, especially since The Beast is fully loaded. (I've got two TV/DVD players, with cordless headphones and Wii plug-in, up in here, yo. Bling, bling.) Also, after six years of driving to South Florida to visit my husband's family, I'm prepared to deal with breakouts of boredom.
We forgot the Cars 2 DVD at home?! Cry me a river, Lunchbox.

Want to color? I got this. Two lap trays with pockets on the side to hold crayons and markers and a hard flip "desktop" for drawing on.

Hungry? Same lap desks convert to portable tables, so the kids can eat on them, and now the pockets can hold silverware or drinks.

Feel the need for an epic battle between good and bad cars? Detach the flip top of the tray, and you have a "well" where you can crash and smash to your little, evil...um, I mean, energetic...heart's content.

Feeling the need to poke your brother, make high-pitched noises for no reason at all or ask "Are we there yet?" for the 873rd time? Just ask Mom to pop in a DVD and slap some headphones on. It's better than getting left on the side of the road.

 Being On The Road means eating almost exclusively out of Mickey D's or The Cracker Barrel , but one of the ways around that is to bring your own food. We do this a lot. It looks like we are in some survival movie, when we go on vacation. There are at least two bags full of "snacks". And when I says snacks, I actually mean what most people would consider a week's worth of groceries. Fruit, dried fruit, two or three types of crackers, pretzels, bread, peanut butter and more fruit. Did I mention we usually pack a small cooler too? Cheese sticks, jelly and maybe some lunch meat.

Also, we bring a gallon or two of water. In case we are stranded in the desert. You know, the one that magically appeared overnight somewhere in Virginia.

Because you never know when The Zombie Apocalypse could happen, and darn it, I'm not going to die because I had to go foraging for food because someone forgot to pack enough Fruit Rollups!
This is what happens when you have to stop for road trip munchies.

Also, we have a lot of luggage. Let's just not go there, m'kay?

I'm actually looking forward to this, though. My husband and my mom both have less flexible schedules and had to stay behind, so it's just me and my dad and the boys. I think it will be fun, sort of a bonding time. And did I mention that we are staying at my aunt and uncle's house...out in the driveway in their RV bus? I've never slept in one before. I'm going to look at it as luxury camping. I think the boys are going to love it, and it will be good practice for the Major Travel Campaign that my husband and I are thinking of undertaking in a few years. In fact, this whole trip will be a trial run for the Big Time.

We want to travel from NC to Maine, then up into Canada, and come back by way of The Great Lakes. We might be insane at the end of those two weeks, but we will have memories, damn it!
"Donner? Party of one?" It's a cookbook! It's a cookbook!

(I have many memories of my own childhood road trips. Most of them are from the books I refused to look up from.)

Did your parents take you on road trips when you were young? Did you enjoy them or hate them? Are they something you would do now for a vacation or do you prefer to fly somewhere warm and loll on the beach instead?










36 comments:

  1. Olivia,
    We took lots of road trips when I was a kid, and I have fond memories of those times. I know my brothers and I were also bored and fought some, but it was still a good bonding experience. We visited a lot of amusement parks.

    This summer I'm driving my kids to Kansas City to meet my mom so the kids can go stay with her for two weeks. We used to do a lot of trips to my home state with the kids. We have four states to cross, so I always had a "present" (something from the dollar store) for them to open when we crossed a state line. The kids still like to do that, but my son is 14 and he thinks he should get expensive gifts now. lol

    I like the tray idea. That would be perfect for my daughter who likes to draw and write stories.

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    1. That's a cute idea, with the presents. I'd go bust, though- I think we will be crossing about 6 or 7 states! And the trays are LIFESAVERS. So are the cordless headphones, lol...

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    2. HA! My parents wouldn't have gotten away with that trick on a road trip. We took many, many, many of them when I was growing up, and we never once left the state of Texas--even though some of them were all-day driving affairs. (Yes, you can start driving in Texas, drive non-stop for more than 12 hours in a straight line, and still be in Texas.)

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  2. Olivia ~ LOL! Boy you just brought back some memories. When I was a kid I criss-crossed the United States a couple times. There is a reason there are "fly over" states. ;)

    This was, of course, back before DVDs or iPods. And while we might have asked "Are we there yet?" more times than my father wanted to hear - if I had a dime for every time he said "Look at the scenery!" I'd be a very wealthy lady today.

    Kids these days (and boy don't I sound like an 85 year old grandmother) have it so easy. They'll never know the days of staring blankly out a car window for days on end with the only entertainment available of seeing how many different states' license plates you could find along the way.

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    1. Yes, I remember my three options during a car trip were staring out the window, listening to my Walkman or reading. Guess which one I did the most of? I distinctly recall sitting outside the Sears Tower, age 14, with a book, while my parents went up and took a tour. They tried, but I only wanted to read that next chapter!

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    2. I would get sick if I read in the back of a car. I remember heading to Disneyland during the school year. AND since I was missing school, my mother demanded I read (which I usually loved to do). When I complained about it, I think they thought I was just being a baby - until I decorated the entire back seat with what had once been lunch.

      THEN when we got to Disneyland, they wouldn't let me ride any of the fun rides that day because my stomach had been upset. I was *not* happy that day, I can tell you that.

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    3. We played "My car!" when I was a kid. You had to go in order and whatever car we passed or if it passed us, that was the designated person's car. It was funny when your sibling got stuck with a clunker. We also used to play the alphabet game where you had to spot all of the letters of the alphabet in order on signs.

      With our kids, we played "Fortunately, Unfortunately". One person starts a story about our trip and at the end, the person has to end with "Unfortunately, a giant eagle named Bob grabbed the car and flew into the air". Don't ask me why, but there was always a giant eagle named Bob. Then the next person had to start their part of the story with "Fortunately, the car had rocket boosters and wings", etc.

      We also created a scapegoat named Craig. If anyone had done something to annoy someone else, it was always Craig's fault. "Thanks a lot, Craig!" Then the kids would start laughing and we'd be over it at least for a few minutes. :)

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  3. Your guys will do fine! Our family is 8-9 hours away, so our kids are veteran car trippers. They've been hitting the road since they were babies, when we would drive at night so they would sleep through most of it.

    Now they don't even blink. They just pack iPods, books and movies and they are ready to go!

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    1. I've learned now to pack portable toys, DVDs, books and coloring stuff in abundance- it makes the trip so much more bearable. Also, pillows! Thankfully they are still at the age where they will nap fairly easily in the car. :)

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  4. We took road trips when I was a child and the destination was usually a few days away. I was terrified of going over bridges. I think one must have collapsed or something, somewhere. So, whenever we came to one my dad assured me he built it. He was an iron worker by trade. Did you know that my father built every single bridge between Illinois and Williamsburg and up to Maine and back? LOL When my children were little, we drove to Disney World. We didn't have a dvd player or anything like that. But, we did buy each of them their own handheld game system, with a few games each. That seemed to keep them happy for most of the trip. I don't really mind the road trips, but I do prefer to fly now so I can relax somewhere new and have more time to enjoy being there.

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    1. My sister builds wiring harnesses for Boeing airplanes. This does not reassure me when I fly. LOL. In fact, it makes me more nervous. (Sorry, Mel, if you're reading this!)

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    2. That's so funny, Amy, because I also have an unreasonable fear of bridges! I refuse to drive over them. They makes me sweat. :D

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  5. When I was a kid, we used to drive the long way across Pennsylvania to visit my grandparents. It seemed to take forever then. As an adult, I drove that same route with my husband and kids and was shocked at how short the trip seemed. Of course, these days the trip to Grandma's on my side of the family involves driving from the Montreal area to eastern PA, which is a whole two hours longer (if we don't hit traffic).

    We lived in Nova Scotia for a couple of years. Now the drive to Quebec from there is long and rather boring. (Sorry, New Brunswick.) I'm really glad we didn't have kids in those days, although I'm thankful to have girls who aren't given to poking each other (too much).

    The longest trip we took was on that Western PA loop. We went from home to my parents', to my cousins' and from there drove all the way to Manitoulin Island (which divides Lake Huron from the Georgian Bay). An hour and a half ferry ride was involved. And we had to make it home eventually. Long trip, but we didn't go insane. We also took 2 weeks to make it.

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    1. If driving through Quebec or Nova Scotia is anything like driving through British Columbia, I'd do it in a heartbeat. That was gorgeous country to see, and I didn't care how long we spent there.

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    2. BC is beautiful. So are parts of Quebec and Nova Scotia. You just have to drive through the right parts. ;-)

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    3. I'd love to drive through some of Canada. It's on my list to see one of those glacier lakes. My best friend did it one year, and the pictures were gorgeous!

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  6. As a child we NEVER took a round. Part of the reason was my whole family lived in the same town and more distance cousins lived in Oxnard, but we didn't go see them (there family you call in the favor and pray what they ask in return is not to bad). My first road trip was actually when I was 22 and we drove from Cali to Indiana. Let me tell you there is a lot of nothing between there. My next road trip was bringing my car from from Cali to Louisiana. Just for your information there is a whole lot of nothing on the westside of Texas. We actually make a lot of road trips now, because it is cheaper. Plus, I love driving. I actually prefer driving, but not on country roads or freeways with nothing on them. I actually don't mind traffic keeps me busy. Which is the reason whenever we visited my SiL in San Diego I would drive, because my hubs hates driving in that.

    Today we get to drive to Idaho Falls. I don't have to drive, which means I get to read. *happy dance*.

    Olivia, I love the post. I will go shouted on twitter and how great your blog is today. ;D

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    1. If you ever get the urge to drive the highway that goes along the southern side of Wyoming, RESIST the urge. This is coming from someone who's driven in West Texas more times than you can count, and I promise you--southern Wyoming is even more boring. I won't tell you how fast I drove on that highway when I went through there, just so I could get out of there faster. It's probably a miracle I didn't end up in prison or dead on the side of the road. I was so bored on that part of my trip that every time I looked down, I was somehow going faster than before.

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    2. Lol. Catherine. I have driven through Nebraska, and Wyoming and there is a lot of nothing in those states. Actually if it were possible to avoid driving through the middle of the United States would be great. However, that is not physically possible. Our next move in about 6 years will be probably heading to the south back to Louisiana or I'm hoping Florida. However, I want something warm. I'm off point, however, we will be heading through those not so exciting states. :(

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    3. See, Melody, didn't I tell you I was chock full of brilliance today? ;D Thanks for the Twitter shout-out!
      Do you remember that movie with Clint Eastwood (Arggh, which one?!) where someone said to him, "I thought you were dead." and he replied "I did too. Turns out I was just in Nebraska." Lol!

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    4. No, but now I need to watch it. Lol.

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  7. As I stated above, we took countless road trips when I was little. Mom's parents lived 4 hours away (which becomes 5-6 hours when you have to deal with all of the bathroom breaks, leg-stretching, and snack replenishing needs of 5 kids that were fighting each other to the death in the back seat). Dad's parents lived 11 hours away, and many of those trips turned into 15-16 hour driving days.

    I got car sick if I read in a car back then. Thankfully that is not the case any longer. Anyway, I couldn't take a book to read. I just had to listen to the music playing on the tape deck, and Dad was the one who chose that. Which, in those days, meant the entire 15-16 hour trip to and from his parents' house was spent listening to Willie Nelson's Half Nelson album on constant repeat. (I probably do not need to tell you that, for many, many years, I hated Willie Nelson's Half Nelson album with the fire of a thousand suns.)

    Somehow, those trips--even with my siblings having knock-down, drag-out fights as we went--did not turn me off of road trips. When I was 21, I willingly got into my car, which had every inch and crevice packed to the brim, with a roommate and headed out with another car bearing two more roommates, 8 cats, and as much as they could fit within that car. We left Texas and headed for Juneau, Alaska. We drove for three days through the western United States, two more days through British Columbia, and then took a two-day ferry ride to Juneau. When I moved back home, it was just me making that trip all alone--in July, with a broken air conditioner that I hadn't fixed, because who needs an AC in Alaska? I took a different route through the US coming home...and discovered that some states are even more boring to drive through than West Texas--something I would not have thought possible when I was a kid on all of those dreadfully long road trips in Texas. :)

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    1. You lived in Alaska? Did I know that? I'm dying to vacation there one year. It's on my bucket list!

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    2. Oh, and I can top Willie Nelson. When I moved to VT, from CT, for college, my aunt and uncle helped move me too. I rode with them and my uncle listened to polka music the entire four hours, straight.

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    3. Yes, I lived in Alaska for a year. It was heaven. Nearly every day at some point in the day, the temperatures would be in the 40s. PERFECT weather for me. Unlike the 100 degrees that my car's thermostat just read. Blech! There was one day while I lived there that the temps got up into the 80s and all of the locals told me it was, and I quote, "balmy." I was unable to stop myself from laughing right in their faces.

      I actually like polka music. We have a local band here, Brave Combo, that does polka music. Best live band around, IMO...and they've got some Grammy's to prove it. And I'm sorry, but 4 hours of the same thing in the car can not come close to topping 4 YEARS of the same thing in the car every time you were in the car. It might have even been longer than that. I don't know. He wore out two (yes, TWO) cassettes in his old Suburban, and was working on the third one when the tape deck quit, blessedly eating the third Willie Nelson Half Nelson tape, and he was forced to start listening to the radio.

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  8. Growing up the usual trip was to drive across PA to visit my relatives. When I was in Jr. high we did bigger trips. Niagara Falls, DC, Atlantic City. The big time was two trips to Florida.

    The first my parents drove through the night. We left WVa and hit Florida the next day. The second trip, we luxuriated in the comfort of the Amtrak Car train. No driving, except to meet the train. I spent part of the trip in the Observatory Car with some guys. Although Mickey Mouse was the bigger hit. Teenage guys can be jerks.

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    1. Um, yes, teenage boys are not known for their social skills, lol! That's pretty cool, though, Beth. I've never been on a train longer than CT to NYC. I'd like to try a trip with a sleeper car. Probably sounds more romantic than it actually is.

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  9. Olivia -

    We started taking "road trips" with our sons when they were toddlers. You have to remember that at the time they didn't have seat belts in cars and especially our which was an old 1964 Rambler! We'd pull a tent trailer that we bought for $100.00 behind it that had to be held open with wooden boards. We always called them adventures instead of trips because it would always be raining when we went to set up late at night and one time a babbling brook turned into a rain flooded river and everyone was evacuated from the campground.

    All I can say is plan for the unexpected! Some unexpected things turn out to be the most fun. When there were a little older we "found" the Norman Rockwell museum in Vermont, stumbled upon the Basketball Hall of Fame in Connecticut and by taking the wrong road ended up at Gettysburg and fueled their love of history.

    Take the back roads and you may just find the one place you weren't looking for but love the best!

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    1. It sounds like you guys created some great memories! That's what I'm hoping will happen when the hubby and I take the boys on a road trip. This trip will be more of a straight there and back. Still, I hope we can make one or two detours!

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    2. Olivia -

      I hope that you have a great time and be sure to take a detour or two because memories are just waited to be made!

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  10. We did not go on road trips when I was little. I went on a mini road trip last year with my cousin to Toronto. We had a great time stopping at many of the Tim Hortons and buying donuts. The great thing was that my cousin did all the driving. We stopped and took pictures at Niagara Falls when we headed home.

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    1. Niagara Falls is so beautiful. We went when I was twelve, on the way back from Canada, where we had gone for New Year's. It was freezing! But still beautiful...

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  11. Olivia, I sooo feel your pain. No road trips when I was growing up. My parents had three kids and we're all a decade apart (yes, we have the same mom and dad), so we were never all at the right age to enjoy the same things. Unfortunately, my children will not be able to say the same thing--we take at least two 12-14 hour road trips each year to spend holidays and summer fun with our family in Indiana. HATE the trip!!!! I'm not a traveler to begin with, but add children? Can we say steaming pile of psychosis?!

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    1. Wow. A DECADE apart? Your poor parents. Just when they thought they were out... Lol!

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  12. The longest road trip I remember going on as a kid was when we drove from PA to Orlando to go to Disney World. My dad drove for two straight days to get there, and two days coming back. Looking back, he totally deserved a medal, what a trooper! I do remember feeling restless and board being trapped in the car all day. But my most vivid memory was of us all giving my mother grief because she insisted on checking into a cheap motel in NC our first night because she wanted to save money. Well, the room stank and they had a rooster that woke us up at 5 am. Needless to say for the rest of the trip, she was overruled and we checked into a Days Inn, an actual decent motel when we got to Orlando, and on our way back.

    We also went to Niagara Falls a few times, which was only a few days away, so it wasn't bad at all!

    Good luck with your road trip! I'm sure you'll come back with lots of stories. :)

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    1. Ha! You never know what you're going to get at a cheap, random North Carolina motel. Lucky it was only a rooster. ;D

      Yes, my hubby and I try not to spend a lot of money on a hotel that we will only sleep at and leave first thing, but I also have standards, like you. I like The Sleep Inn, they have the most comfortable bed and pillows. And they have actual comforters, as opposed to a cheap poly synthetic bedspread and itchy wool blanket!

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