Road trips from the back seat
The aroma is not pleasant when you’re sitting between two boys and a dog. But, for some reason, my mother thought my younger brothers wouldn’t fight if I was in the middle.
For two summers in the mid-1960s, my family traveled across the country pulling a tent trailer. You see, when my father was a child, he loved to read about explorers’ epic adventures. So, we children were held hostage so he could fulfill his dreams.
My brother Eric fondly recalls minute details of every state and national park we visited. My detailed memories include my parents sleeping on one end of the tent trailer, my brothers sleeping at the other end, which left me to sleep on the table, with a cushion on top. Guess who wasn’t allowed to sleep in?
During one trip, there were a couple of segments when we covered around 300 miles in a single day across the hot, open spaces of Arizona. My father refused to turn the air conditioner on for fear of overheating the car.
For distractions, we played Auto Bingo, 20 Questions, and Pick a Color And Whoever’s Color Has The Highest Number of Cars Passing In That Color Wins. During one trip, my father suggested I write a travel journal. Sadly, it has been lost over the years, but I do remember one evening, when I wrote, “It’s been a loooooooooooong drive.”
Any “welcome to” signage at state borders meant pulling over, with my brothers and I told to stand in front of them for photographic posterity.
Decades later, while watching “National Lampoon’s Vacation” in a movie theater during its initial release, I experienced an almost literal jaw drop, watching a part of my childhood re-enacted on the big screen. No, Grandma was not roped onto our roof’s luggage rack. But, the singalongs, and stopping at every single historical marker was definitely part of our M.O., and I called my brothers the next day. “You have to see this!” I exclaimed. “It’s so weird!”
Seeds of those experiences germinated and have persevered through years of memory sediment; my father’s excitement of new experiences and discovery. To this day, I’m ready to hit the road, even last minute trips, just to absorb different energies, and engage in new conversations; always learning and sharing.
Diabolical, that man.