“are we there yet?” my four year old starts asking 5 minutes from home….
my childhood road trips were spent on the floorboards behind my aunts driver seat playing dolls with my cousin. Seat belts were just something we tucked under the seats to avoid being burned by the scalding metal. air bags? air bags were just trash floating by in the summer breeze. we sat wherever we wanted and our favorite was on the floor with our heads resting on the doors.
we stayed in motels in small towns, jumping on the beds and searching for the nearest ice cream shop. we pitched tents, swam and made our own schedules. we did this for years and i’m not sure i ever cared about getting where we were going….it was all about the journey. in fact, i have more memories of the car ride than where we ended up.
it’s different now….my kids have designated seats and they are belted in. they have their iPods and movies and much of their entertainment is self focused. they would never think of rolling around on the floor or unbuckling. i guess this is how much of life is, we become aware of dangers and we compensate with rules, restrictions and extreme safety precautions. whenever i get too focused on the dangers my husband reminds me, “we lived”.
some things don’t change about road trips and this is what i love. we get in the car amped for adventure, we see the world in a new light and we get on each others nerves (it’s true). the front seat is designated for conversations that get put on hold during the bustle of everyday life (i used to pretend to be asleep as a kid just so i could listen). my road trip husband is one of my favorites, he is relaxed, funny and truly happy. my road trip children are starved for attention (because there is so much space between us in our car, ha ha), open to sharing stories about their lives and just plain cute as they sleep shoved in a small hotel room.
the united states is absolutely beautiful, i am constantly amazed. this trip we made our way to south dakota and the badlands national park. i have never seen pink and yellow hills so gracefully perched between chartreuse blades of grass. they were happy and whimsical and made me want to move to south dakota just so i could wake up to their beauty.
the national parks are beautiful and they are packed with visitors from all over the world. cheesy tourist trap heaven…everything you can dream up: old mcdonald’s farm, bear country, gem world, i could go on and on but i will put it to rest with reptile world. ahhhh, reptile world, who wouldn’t want to stop? ok, maybe you don’t want to but you have to visit these places. i am convinced my children will remember the crocodile show before they ever recall the beauty of the badlands but it will give them context for their trip. they will talk about the time they got sprayed by the crocs thrashing tail and then they will say; “hey, isn’t that the time we went to the badlands?” these stops make our history together interesting and make the road trip worth every mile of “are we there yet!?!”