Road Trip! Our Time in the Car

Doritos cheese prints
dot the windows, evidence
of too long car trips

—————————————————-

It’s spring break time, and so we find ourselves driving 10 hours to see grandmamma and granddad. Yes, I said driving. And yes for those of you keeping score, I have a 9-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy.

You might ask why we don’t fly instead. I will usually reply with some lame reason like “well by the time we get to the airport 2 hours early, get checked in, catch the flight, arrive, and then drive to my parent’s house, it takes almost as long to drive… plus it’s way cheaper”.

The real truth is when you travel by air there are witnesses. When you travel by car… no one really pays attention to what you say or do. If you have small/medium kids like I do, you understand what I mean. In the airport, when your kid asks you for the 379th  time “when will the plane get heeeerrrreeee” and you narrow your eyes and talk raspily through your teeth, replying “it will never get here and I’ll sell you to that sweaty man in the next row if you don’t stop asking”, well, undoubtedly someone will hear you and report it to security. However, in the car, well bwah hah hah…

Thankfully, our road trips have evolved to be not too terrible journeys.  The kids are old enough now to independently operate movie devices, milk cartons and hamburger wrappers. Nevertheless, our trips are marked by some regular features that make me wonder why we keep doing them.

Characteristics of Our Typical Car Trips

  1. Bottomless pit syndrome. This is where the adults and the kids find it impossible to fill up.  It has nothing to do with the fact that we are eating food with the nutritional value of lead paint, I’m sure. There is just something about driving that causes tremendous calorie expenditures that must be offset. (Point in fact: 5 minutes after departure for this trip, the kids started asking for snacks.)
  2. Shotgun car sicknesses. When you aren’t driving, you are in charge food, drink and electronics, meaning you spend a spectacularly large amount of time turned backward interacting with the kids. When this happens, there is some bizarre worm-hole-parallel-universe the car enters where all the roads are twisty and the driver (Frank) suddenly has a seizure which renders him incapable of steering smoothly.  It never fails; bring on the nausea. Eight times out of ten, I drive 100% of the time in these journeys for precisely this reason.
  3. Mis-timed cravings (the evil companion of #1).  The only time I ever want a DQ Blizzard (Oreo is best) is right after we pass the only exit in 120 miles where there is a DQ.  I look over just in time to see those red letters mock me from the sign of the combo truck stop/adult bookstore/fireworks store/Dairy Queen, but we are already past the ramp. Dammit! I spend the next 120 miles scanning each exit ramp “ood sign hoping beyond hope to see those two letters again…
  4. Slow Leak Affliction. This is something I suffer from. It usually only strikes when I’m a passenger. The symptoms are as follows: hand up in the universal symbol for stop, other hand gripping something and a sharp intake of air through gritted teeth (thus the “slow leak” name). It isn’t pretty… I’m not proud… and there is no cure.
  5. I don’t like that movie anymore disease. We have two devices where we have loaded the kids’ favorite movies for their driving enjoyment. However, about 2 hours into the road trip the kids usually declare that they no longer like ANY of these movies and they want something new. This is where the anonymity of a car ride is critical, because what shotgunner does next is usually best not witnessed.  
  6. Inopportune Sleepiness Disorder.  We tend to start the southbound trip after school, so that the kids spend as much of the time sleeping as possible.  I usually don’t have trouble staying alert while driving, but there are times, about 8 hours in, when no matter how much fresh air or cruise-control-enabled tap dancing I do, I can’t say awake. So we pull over, Frank gets a caffeinated beverage and I settle into the passenger seat, so very ready for sleep.  And I wait… and wait… and wait… and almost never, ever am I able to sleep. Why is it just 15 minutes ago I was a poster child of risky behavior behind the wheel and now I am as awake as a toddler after Halloween? Happens every time.
  7. The ob-NOXIOUS passenger. Someone always wants to stop at White Castle or Krystals to fill said bottomless pit. Always. And this “someone” proceeds to, a few hours later, try to kill us all via his own brand of chemical warfare. Oh my god. I don’t mind the occasional crop dusting this “someone” does while meandering around the house. But to dutch oven so-called loved-ones while encased in a metal machine doing 75 mph in the rain, well, that’s just unkind. 

Happy road trip everyone!

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5 Comments

  1. We will be driving to Savannah this summer for a wedding, with a 9 year old boy and 7 year old girl. We will probably break it into two legs.

    I love White Castle! It’s always our post-game stop after seeing the Reds.

    Reply
  2. Lacey

     /  March 18, 2012

    My family (four kids) used to road trip everywhere we went… I never flew until I was 16, and even then only because I was going on a mission trip overseas. This included 25-hour trips to MN to visit grandparents… and a couple of 3-week long trips all over the country… yep, all in a car. I’m sure all of us kids almost drove our parents nuts; my 3 younger brothers sure drove ME nuts! I recognize most of your symptoms! However, I still have a LOT of fond memories from that part of my life. My husband and I drove up to Alaska (from Alabama) and are making the drive home in a couple of weeks; I’m fairly sure that when we have kids one day, we’ll do lots of driving, too. Something about it gets into your blood. =)

    Reply
  3. Lacey

     /  March 21, 2012

    Haha. I haven’t tried it with kids, though. I don’t think that will EVER happen.

    Reply

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