Road Trips

This month began with a road trip north, to see our dear friend ordained to the Holy Priesthood:

Boston was beautiful, and it was a special treat for me to relive tulip season.  The company, of course, was the best.

Now, at the end of the month (how is it over already?!) we are heading south for a family wedding.  I anticipate pimento cheese, pine trees and lots of sweating.  You’ll hear about it when we return, I’m sure!

I can’t go on a road trip without remembering the many, many times my saintly parents made long trips with three of us cavorting in the back seat.  They had many weapons against the twin enemies of fighting and carsickness.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Prizes: this was an all-purpose term for something unexpected and cool, anything from M&Ms to a vending-machine rubber ball.  Sometimes they staggered them, so we got something small for every 100 miles without a fight.  Sometimes we had to be good for the WHOLE trip in return for a bigger reward.  I most vividly recall the time they gave us each a pile of dimes; when we started to complain or snipe at each other, without a word they simply removed one from the pile.  That might have been the most effective of all!
  • Songs: although we used to lament loudly about the bluegrass or sea chanties or Celtic folk music, the truth is that these experiences helped us all to be more well-rounded appreciators of music.  When I started to listen to my own music, my parents let me control the soundtrack; one year I made a mix tape of 70’s rock and my parents competed to see who could name the song first.  (Little did they know that their future son-in-law could blow the whole family out of the water in that department!)  We also enjoyed making up our own songs.  My sister was the undisputed champion of this activity, coining both a Maryland state song and innumerable verses to the Arabic Trisagion.
  • Spankings: Sometimes the threat was enough.  Other times, they had to pull over and follow through on it.  Either way, it worked, though the atmosphere in the car was decidedly subdued and sniffly for the next hour or so.
  • Games: Because we sometimes got carsick, we rarely read or played inside games, but we loved looking for license plates and playing the alphabet game (pick a category and try to come up with a word beginning with each letter.)  We also had familiar landmarks on the most common journey, to Atlanta to visit the cousins: the building in Richmond that you think you’ll be able to reach out and touch from the overpass, the signs to South of the Border, and of course the Gaffney Peach.
  • Dramamine: One year they tried this as an anti-nausea medication.  They discovered it had the wonderful side effect of putting us to sleep.  After that, we were often given a dose “just in case.” Hey, you do what you have to!
  • Snacks: These might actually be tied with prizes for everyone’s favorite thing about road trips.  My mom always packed the best lunches, and for car trips she’d go all out, with carefully-wrapped, customized sandwiches, crunchy snacks, fruit, drinks and always, always, something sweet at the very end.  My dad doesn’t have quite her foresight and planning instincts, but he makes up for it with enthusiasm: last year when we drove to JFK to pick up my sister from Korea, he brought a haul that included economy-size tubs of nuts, cheese crackers and lunch meat.  And SEVEN yogurts.  That last item has become one of our favorite jokes since then.

Time to go pack my own bag: trail mix, beef jerky and an iPod.  Some things do get simpler over time!