Ahh!!! This universally acclaimed statement of loving children, flowing needlessly to every parent’s ears. Recited endlessly, over and over again, by every child in every car, on every venture in a vehicle that lasts longer than one (1) hour. The term “road trip” is a word that is held with great anticipation by adults. It signals a time of both restful relaxation and wondrous adventure. It is a cherished and envied term that makes everyone, in one’s social circle, a little jealous that they will not be going along. It is a time to experience the unknown and bask in all its glory. Ahh!!!! Not if you are a parent of little children.
What “road trip” really means is first, do a complete check on the modern Conestoga Chuck Wagon, I mean SUV. After the vehicle has been checked start filling it with every contraption devised by overzealous retailers to make sure that the children will be safe, clean, comfortable, fed, and hydrated during the trip and when they get to where ever you are going to. Modernized wheelbarrows (strollers) to transport the little darlings when not in the vehicles must be loaded. Portable cages (pack-N-plays) to keep the children safe from ever touching the ground must also be wedged into that motorized mini moving van. Bathtubs and coolers and toys and movies and books and diapers with all accessories and suitcases full of clothes and etc, etc!!! With all of that said, please do not forget the family pet and all of that gear. It is just a logistical nightmare. And after all of that preparation you get to hear those famous words, “are we there yet”.
From the child’s point of view a road trip is time spent strapped in and confined to a spaceship designed restraint device. It does not allow the child to enjoy the views outside of the windows of the vehicle. The result is boredom and a longing for the freedom to be a young inquisitive human being. This is all being denied to them during this torturous transportation event. These kids have no idea where they are, but none of it is familiar, like their bedroom or backyard, so they are apprehensive, antsy, scared, and downright obnoxious. Can we blame them? A road trip is an adult thing. To a child it is removing me from my comfort zone, throwing me into a moving jail, and telling me not to relieve my bladder or bowels when I really, really, really have to go.
The entire road trip with children and senior citizens is planned the same way. You choose a destination and then map out the route with the most amounts of rest areas available to use on the way there. It has nothing to do with scenic overlooks, cascading waterfalls, river rapids, mountain passes, or anything like that. It has to do with potty training.
I have experience with all of this. We were fortunate enough to own, with the bank, a weekend getaway. We traveled 1 hour and 40 minutes, each way about 30 out of 52 weekends every year since 1985. You would think that my children paid some attention to their surroundings during all those boring and repetitive “road trips”. Well, when my future mechanical engineering, mathematician, and inquisitive child got his drivers license, and after making that trip from the age of 4 to 17, guess who needed directions the first time he had to drive himself to that getaway property.
(insert from HighSpeedDaddy…in all fairness, there’s a couple different routes to go, i was asking which way they suggested….)
I leave for an unplanned, spur of the moment, no advance reservations, no specific route (except for roads with rest stops with bathrooms), to a specific destination tomorrow morning, I have a compass, a very large SUV with loads of empty space in the back after it is loaded with very little of everything. I have a lot of time to get to where I am going and no one in the back seat saying “are we there yet! Finally, ahh!!!!
Some pics of HighSpeedPoppa on his lifetime bucket list trip cross country…