Saturday, April 20, 2013

Road Trip


"Wherever you go, go with all your heart."
Confucius
 
 
 
We love road trips in our family. Long ones. Short ones. Carefully planned ones. Spontaneous ones. I'm a life-long learner. What can I say? There's a lot of learning to be done on the road. And not just outside the car.
 
Now in all fairness our kids really didn't stand a chance. They grew up a two-hour drive from our extended families. And since, as Mr. Fun liked to joke, the highway only ran in one direction - the direction that we happened to be travelling, Duaghter1, Daughter2, and OnlySon were born travellers. They were just getting comfortable at the two-hour mark! We had friends who seemed to be waiting for some magical age to introduce their children to car travel. We didn't get it.To us it was like church - get them used to it right from the beginning.
 
Every family that hits the road has their own style and their own way of doing things. I am just so thankful that we got a head start on road trips. We hit the road long before the era of electronic pacifiers. No DVD. No GPS. No XM. I wouldn't trade it for the world. There are definitely times on the road when everyone wants to just chill, but there is something so sad about passing a car that has these adorable little creatures sitting in the back seat each plugged into their own world; staring vacantly at a screen. I want to scream, "You're missing out on so much!" Sure, at kilometre 460 you get the nattering. By 2:00 pm one sibling really needs to sit by the other window now because the sun is coming in on their side. The younger sibling keeps touching the older one. Sometime just after you've stopped for a bathroom break, someone else decides they have to go now - oh wait! That would be me. And of course you are going to hear "Are we there yet?" Sometimes the words of Winston Churchill ring in your ears - "When you are going through hell, just keep going," 
 
Funny though,  I can't remember the specifics of any of these similar meltdowns. I know they occurred, but like childbirth, the pain has disappeared. I do, however, remember with tremendous clarity the awesome, funny, tender, and sweet memories of our car trips.With everyone gathered together in the small space of a vehicle it is the perfect opportunity to connect as a family. We have had some wonderful engaging conversations while travelling. Well, except for the trips we took with our van. You see, there was just too much space in that thing and the acoustics were brutal. Whoever was sitting in the far back (usually Daughter2) had a difficult time hearing what was said up front. Most of the time this was fine with Daughter2 which at this period in her life is why she probably liked it back there. But once in awhile she would want to participate. The trouble was that she could only hear snippets of conversations and would totally misunderstand what was being said. This led to some hilarious questions and comments from way back there. We still bring them up today. 
 
 
Always fans of the Tailgate
Vermont 1997


As enjoyable as road trips with young children are, a few years ago we discovered something even better - road trips with your adult or young adult children. Pure travel bliss. It's all the great things about a road trip without any of the extra-curriculars. Perhaps it's something like spring fever though. You have to go through real winter to fully appreciate it. Mr. Fun and OnlySon recently returned from a golf trip to Myrtle Beach. My 18-year old son was quite proud of his "sub-four." No, he didn't run a mile in under four minutes. On the road he was able to complete a full round of Alphabet Bingo in under four minutes! He was taught well.

Last fall we travelled with Daughter1 to Philadelphia for the Rock 'n Roll Half-Marathon. She was reuniting with a friend she had met on her travels and was going to spend a long weekend with him and run the race on Sunday. We had such an awesome time in Philly that we jumped at the chance to go with her for a marathon at the end of April. I went into planning mode and made arrangements for a Pennsylvania Road Trip. Can't wait. So excited. Until this back injury. Now it appears that I will have to back out and send Mr. Fun and Daughter1 with directions and a jam-packed itinerary. I will definitely miss the sites and tours I had planned, but most importantly I will miss watching and cheering her on as she crosses the finish line after 42.2 kilometres. I am sure that this marathon will have special meaning after the events of the past week. The bond that runners normally share will be strengthened and each runner will have another reason to run. I wish I could be there at the Starting Line when the runners stand together and sing their national anthem before hitting the pavement. I wish I could be there at the Finish Line and see the euphoria that comes after months of training. I will be with her in spirit and happy in the knowledge that Mr. Fun is there and he sure knows how to do the supporting role.

Mr. Fun rocking the Canada hat in Philly

If you are looking for a fantastic picture book about road trips, see if you can get your hands on Are We There Yet? by Nancy Crystal and illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka (Scholastic Canada, 1991). This is such a fun little story. My children loved it, and anytime I read it to students they laugh like crazy. Dexter and his antics will be relateable to anyone who has travelled with children, and the illustrations are adorable.


 
"The journey not the arrival matters."
T.S. Eliot
 


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