It has been said that the dynamics of two people driving in a car are perfect for deep conversation. You are both facing the same direction, which is more conducive to open disclosure, less threatening than facing each other. It is possible in a car to have very few distractions that normally disrupt discourse between two people. On a journey of any distance you have the greatest luxury: time. Time for the talk to meander the way a wild river wanders, rambles and loops. Time for a topic to steep and brew and be set aside before drinking it down.
Some of my best memories are of long car trips we’ve taken.
Our honeymoon was spent driving from Wheaton to the West Coast. As we approached South Dakota my husband became animated, anticipating Reptile Gardens. Please! Why would someone actually pay money to see snakes dripping from trees? My lack of enthusiasm had no dampening effect on Curt. But I was driving and he was sleeping when we cruised through Rapid City right past that repulsive place. A mile down the road I had a throbbing fit of conscience, made a U-ie across the meridian, and drove back to the exit. True love. It is one of the great mysteries of my life that three times I have paid to be a snake spectator.
I was raised in a large family, with a Stop For Gas Only policy. Your bodily needs had to coordinate themselves to the car’s fuel tank. One learned early The Precautionary Pee. “Just try,” Mom would say. I had the good fortune of marrying a man who takes the first exit when the need for a facility is expressed. Whew!
We listen to music, lots of audio books, sermons, seminars and audio magazines. Sometimes I read a book aloud. But the rich moments are when we talk. (Aside: If I had younguns, I’d be one of those mean moms who would restrict the use of personal DVD players. Why? Because they rob you of thinking time. And talking time. Without them the brain has space to stretch.)
I got to thinking of gerunds that come along on road trips:
Road trips have been a great adhesive.
Agree or disagree? What road trips do you remember?
* the cleaned up words, don’t ya know…
Heartily agree! We’ve had wonderful family driving vacations I wouldn’t trade for anything. Our trips to Colorado, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone rank highest on the list. One of the unexpected advantages of living in the country was the time each trip to town required, which provided so many opportunities for captive conversation with otherwise less talkative teenagers.;)Terry, Cassie and I are driving to NYC for Thanksgiving with Luke. We are excited and I am glad we will be in the car together so long instead of waiting in crowded airports during the busiest travel days of the year.
Steve and I are opposites when it comes to travel – I believe in strong discipline for bladders (my children tell friends to “slightly dehydrate” themselves before going on a road trip with me), and Steve makes many stops – once or more each hour. But we’ve had great trips together. We drove back and forth across the US from Florida or Alabama to California – each time taking a different route in order to see more. Lots of trips up and down from upstate NY to AL or FL. And many many within the southeastern region from NC to TX, up to KY, etc. Many times I would read aloud. Unfortunately, the children in the back of the van couldn’t really hear what I was reading. We listened to audio books. We conversed.We still play games if any children are with us, even on short trips. “A, my name is..”; “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing a …” ; “the alphabet in signs” game; and a word game my oldest daughter started where each person has to say a word ending in -tion, or -ive, or -ally, etc.I laughed about your reptile place! Once we stopped in Dragoon, Arizona to see The Thing because Steve got so worked up by the numerous billboards advertising it. I was all for driving by, but Steve indicated strongly that he might die of curiosity if he didn’t find out what the mysterious Thing was. So we stopped, and have a memory that has lasted for 25 years.
I chuckled out loud with your Reptile Gardens and paying to see snakes story. I remember our visit at those very same “Gardens” when I was a young child. My sister asked to hop on a giant tortoise, (this after walking through the jungle of snakes,) and I was strongly urged to climb on his back, too, for the perfect “pic.” I freaked out the second he started moving.Needless to say, no picture made it to the family album. I prefer driving vs flying anytime and cannot stand that my nephews and niece each have their own movie player going on road trips. What they are missing. Nice post, Carol.
I love road trips. It’s a good thing I live where I do isn’t it? I get road trips pretty often, at least long drives. I’m acheing for a road trip with the boys. When I was little we moved so much that when we really wanted to talk together as a family we’d all get in the car and drive to a park or something. (Similar to driving a baby around the block to make him sleep, I think!) On a side question, are “cussing” and “dis-cussing” related??
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I played the alphabet game….this summer…..
Making up limericks to pass the time during long car trips is one of my favorite childhood memories. In recent years “Adventures in Odyssey” CDs have brought us a lot laughter and helped us to get through the last (longest) hour of the drive.
Long road trips are synonomous with picnic baskets filled to the brim with flasks of coffee, sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, chicken drumsticks, frikkadelletjies (small meatballs), droë wors (raw dried sausage), fruit, and plenty water. And do not forget the tablecloth (not that there’s always a table), and the jammerlappie (cleaning towel). Enjoyable in all aspects (except for the driver sometimes – the long hours…) and definitely agreeing with your gerund choice selection!
Road trips have changed! My dad could make it from Eugene to San Diego on a thermos of coffee and one stop for the bathroom. I couldn’t and he didn’t understand why any little girl would have to ‘go’ so much! As the mom of 2 little girls I made sure they had stops and time to take care of things, and I usually needed that time as well, still do. Luckily I have an understanding hubby who doesn’t travel on a time line! We both agree that trips are for stopping and looking at whatever strikes our interest. So we’ve been able to go to the little tractor museums in the mid west and the meteor crater in Arizona and Cape Fowl Weather and what ever giant hole, ball, rock, cave, water way or amazing construction we’ve taken a fancy to! Probably the most memorable road trip was the one taken 3 years ago for the new grandson. The DH, his Mother and I drove from Oregon to Iowa by way of I-80 and home via Yellowstone. I learned NOT TO DOZE OFF! When we got to the freeway from my DD’s house, the DH and MiL were ready to head East, as that’s the way we’d been traveling. As we were headed home, I did manage to convince them we did need to go WEST this time, East would take us to Chicago. . . then there was the detour for those leaving the freeway in Montana, which the DH took, (I was sleeping in the back seat). We were heading off somewhere East of Yellowstone and who knows where we would have ended up if I hadn’t felt the car slow down, woken up and started asking questions. I was a bit worried about the 2 of them last Nov. when the took DD #2 and her hubby back to Portland to the airport, I had to stay home and work, so I didn’t go, telling myself SURELY the 2 of them can make it there and back again. . . they did. I was sure they’d call from Anchorage or something! I can add the gerunds; Sighing Meeting Ah-ha-ing Re-visiting Jaw Dropping!Road trips are uniquely American, I hope we will always have that curiosity and intrepidity, that we won’t lose them to high gas prices and busy lives.
There was a literary “journal” out of Missoula called “Northern Lights”. They gave writing assignments called “Postcards”. You had to write a story that would fit on the back of a postcard. This was my published response to the assignment “Station Wagons”. She must have been crazy. I mean, you’d have to be, to stuff three small kids in a ’62 Rambler wagon and head for the West. Ninety degrees each morning before we’d start – and no AC. My job was to keep the two-year old brother amused back in the padded well. You’d think he was a future farmer, as the only thing that would stop his bawling would be herds of cows. Mom picked her way across the Midwest from bovine pacifier to bovine pacifier. She must have been crazy.