Generally speaking, it is not a good sign when your house is an hour and a half behind you as you forge ahead with a two day drive ahead of you and from the backseat you hear a voice say, "Are we in Minnesota yet??" This is unfortunate not only because you still have a full two day drive ahead of you, but because you aren't planning on being anywhere NEAR Minnesota!
Call me a romantic, or an optimist...or even crazy, but I believe that the Art of the Family Road Trip is being lost and it makes me sad.
I know not everyone feels this way. Most people would rather be to their destination by any way other than car travel. Most people would love to go to sleep and wake up at their desired location. Most people would rather have a separate room in their car for their kids.
Most people would miss out.
But, the art of the Family Road Trip is not in how you do it. It is in what you come away with. Anybody can play movies from Colorado to Tennessee, but what does anyone come away with (okay, besides a bit more sanity in the short run)? There are so many observations to be made when you are trying to engage your kids and keep them from pulling each others' hair out! The Family Road Trip is the ultimate catalyst for creativity. It forges the strongest ties that bind us together.
And it can be unbelievably eye opening.
Here are my Techniques for Mastering the Art of the Family Road Trip:
*Make sure you drive through Kansas. Yeah, I know what you are thinking, "Kansas? Why on earth? It is flat! It is boring!" Boring you say? I am sorry, but I must beg to differ! Where else in the whole US can you visit Prairie Dog Town? Home to "the Largest Prairie Dog in the world - 800 Pounds!", or see a REAL "5 legged Cow" , or buffalo pheasants (though I am pretty sure that one was just an error in signage)??? Only in a state so boring, it has to rely on freaks of nature to spice it up! Also, while you and I think a state FULL of cornfields is boring...young children are amazed to know that that much of their favorite vegetable is so bountiful in ONE state! And, I realized why some folks refer to Kansas as God's Country. Something about that state increases your prayer life. As I drove through it, I found my prayers to be constant. "Lord THANK YOU for delivering my Lichty people from this land. And God, PLEASE don't ever make me have to come live here!"
*Never underestimate the power of Bribery. My friend, Jen, taught me this one! I always buy a BIG bag of chocolate goodies and keep them on hand. When people start losing it, you would be amazed how fast they can pull it together if there is a promise of caramel and chocolate for being polite for the next 15 minutes! This actually IS a powerful tool. My kids now know they will get MORE treats if I DON'T have to bribe them. The only two times they had treats today was just because they were traveling so well!
*Drive through the MidWest during a summer heat wave. There are several benefits to this lunacy. First is that I don't care how much you dislike your car....if it has air conditioning, you will have a new-found love for it! You will also make great time because just getting out of the car and walking into the convenience store for the restroom will make you feel like (in the words of Gecko) you "are walking right in a fire"...thereby encouraging you to make less stops so that you can stay in the AC comfort of your car! Also...when you DO walk through the fiery heat to the convenience store and find that THEIR AC is NOT working, you will have absolutely NO guilt about having a root beer float after sitting your butt all day in the car!
|Guilt Free Floats!|
*Stay at an aesthetically challenged hotel. What else makes the Cracker Barrel seem gourmet?
|Yes, that is our room number TAPED to our door!|
*Talk to the locals. Not only is every state different in geography, but the people in each state have their own unique attributes and wisdom. Such was the case tonight, as our waitress at The Barrel was Renee. She was born in Colorado, now living in Missouri and had some special insight for us regarding Tennessee. According to this food service sage, we might be able to get quite a bit of Christmas shopping taken care of while visiting the Volunteer State. Renee assured us EVERY person in Tennessee has SOMETHING for sale in their front yard. Including and especially El Camino cars! Whew! Cy's Volvo is getting pretty old, so I am thankful that we can do a little yard sale hopping and maybe find him a cherry truck-car.
In other words....things that drive so many people crazy when venturing across country with their kids in their cars are actually the things I think we will laugh about tonight and for a long time to come. We are not staying at the Ritz. We are not eating at swanky resort restaurants. But we are laughing a lot. Come on....AN 800 POUND PRAIRIE DOG? What's not to laugh about?!
So, Missouri or Minnesota, who cares? As long as we are all together.
We are in Missouri, right?