Summers in the Station Wagon
My little family spent the week in Chicago visiting old friends and family. It is the first time we have done a long road trip with the 5-year-old. She’s traveled to Europe twice, but never more than four hours in a car.
As we pulled out of our driveway, loaded down with juice boxes and granola bars, we told ourselves it would be a lot of fun, or we’d seriously dislike each other after nearly eight hours in the car.
And it all went well. Let me tell you why: My kid was all about the portable DVD player. Exactly the crack we swore we’d never push before we had a child.
When I was a kid and traveled from Miami to New Jersey or Disney World with my parents and younger brother, I think my brother and I each got a pillow, maybe a book, and that was about that. One particular northbound trip, we were lying in the back of the blue Pinto station wagon the whole way to Jersey, crammed in between suitcases and coolers. I remember my father had to pull over on I-95 and physically remove my clenched hand from my brother’s thick brown hair. I am sure he said “carajo!”
My daughter traveled safely strapped into a car seat and barely looked up, even when we said: “Look how beautiful the prairie in Indiana is!” Yeah, whatever. I remember sleeping right through my parents’ encouraging me to wake up and look at the buildings in our nation’s capital. Yeah, whatever.
One night in Chicago, I had dinner with six friends from college. While we spent much of the time thumbing through old pictures of us with big hair and no crows feet, I told them about the blue Pinto experience. A couple of them told of how they too traveled perilously in cars, and in the back of pick-up trucks during summer escapes in the ’70s and ’80s. Our children, who were playing in the grass nearby, won’t ever tell summer survival stories of bouncing around in the back of a station wagon while on a major interstate, will likely remain plugged in past the prairie.
Que pena. At least about the plugged in part.
Next time, I may just forget the power adapter.
What’s your summer travel story?