Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Road Trip Survival Kit

It has been a few years since my family ventured out on a road trip together. Back in the day, it was not unusual for the four of us to pile into the old Previa and take to the open roads of North America. We actually became quite adept at it. But, time and circumstance change, and the cloistered existence of the car gave way to the expediency of the plane. Why drive to Florida in what amounts to 2 1/2 days when you can fly there in 3 hours? Not to mention the Road Trip from Hell in the winter of '97!! If you need further elucidation, suffice it to say that you haven't lived until you have spent 5 January days in the bowels of Mount Vernon, Kentucky subsisting on little more than Pizza Hut!! Fun? Wow!!!! So, the family road trip went the way of Power Rangers, sneakers with lights on them and Pokemon cards! We simply outgrew them.

When the boys finished their Hebrew school days and I stopped carpooling, we traded in the old van for a more fuel friendly and smaller mid-sized. I finally felt as though I were driving a car that was truly built for a woman blessed with the height of a garden gnome. Parallel parking became graceful again and I didn't need to worry about backing into a mailbox I couldn't see. But, the van was perfect for road tripping. One could maneuver in and out of the seats with ease and the cargo space was exceptional. Nobody complained about being in close proximity with his brother and nobody complained that we were leaving stuff behind because it simply would not fit. So, it is with tremendous excitement and a modicum of trepidation that the four of us head out on a weekend road trip to the heart of the midwest for our camp reunion. We haven't done this for a while and we really don't know what to expect. With that in mind, I have devised a simple Road Trip Survival Kit to get us through the 9-10 hour drive, (each way!!) and hopefully we will all still be speaking at its conclusion.

1. Rotate the seating arrangement. Older Son has already begun to whine (He will be 21 next week!!!) about where he will be sitting throughout our journey. It seems as though the seat behind the driver (unless the driver is me!) is rather uncomfortable if your legs extend longer than 5 feet. In my family, that is everyone except me!! Older Son seems to subscribe to the old adage that if you call SHOTGUN before your opponents, you are entitled to the front passenger seat. Upon hearing this little tidbit of information, Younger Son began his campaign for equality, and whined with identical verve!! (He is 18 and headed off to university next week!!) Mom, attempting to keep the peace, has decided that we will rotate through the passenger seat. The husband, has decided that he wants no part of this arrangement and refuses to relinquish the driving duties. Frankly, I am thrilled. I hate long highway driving and while I know that both of the boys are fine drivers, I feel much more comfortable with the husband at the wheel. I just don't want to hear complaints of back ailments upon our arrival in Indianapolis!!

2. Keep a close eye on the border times. For those of you out there who don't do this on even a semi-regular basis, crossing the border can be a nightmare. Long line-ups have become the norm at all posts heading south. It is not uncommon to wait an hour or more to cross over and given that this weekend is a holiday weekend, we are anticipating the worst. There are websites out there that give updates as to the wait times at the individual crossings and we do plan to consult them before we leave, but they can only serve as a guidepost. Given the fact that we are a 3-3 1/2 hour drive to the border, the situation could easily change before we arrive. Thank God for the Blackberry!! The border could add even more time to an already long journey and the frustration level could be at peak before we even stop for lunch!!

3. Agree to disagree on the music!! There is no way that all four of us will ever come to a consensus on which radio station should be playing, so why bother having the fight. Ipods were invented for a reason. The only problem with the headphones is that we fail to communicate. I am sort of looking forward to having my two young man held captive for 2 days so that I can pull out an eyedropper's worth of information and emotions. The good news is that ipods cannot be recharged in my car. (That's my story and I am sticking to it!!)

4. Food will not be junk!!! Unless of course you count the camp slop that we will be served during the weekend. The good news is that none of us are particularly fond of fast food anymore. Even Younger Son has begun to see the light when it comes to healthy eating. He isn't quite there yet and still indulges in Mickey Ds on occasion, but for the most part is coming over from the dark side. The rest of us literally cannot stomach the shit. If we eat it, we will be out of commission for the remainder of the weekend. Of all of the things that I could have passed down to my children, stomach ailments was not top of my list!! No, the food this weekend needs to be of the non-slider variety! Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs are sounding pretty good to me!!

5. Stop whenever Mom says it is time to stop!!! As the only double X in the car, I am taking it on as my prerogative to dictate the pee breaks. My men are camels!! I am not, so it stands to reason that if Mom has to pee, we stop. The husband is very used to my idiosyncratic bathroom behaviour, but it has been a while for the two progeny. Thus, if I have to give up the front seat for any discernible length of time, it seems fair that stopping for Mom is not up for discussion.

6. Remember that we love each other very much, even if we get on each other's nerves!! Brothers can irritate. Spouses can nag. Parents can sound like freaks of nature and children like dumbasses! Let's just have fun! We all want to see our friends and celebrate 50 years of GUCI!! This is a vacation that we all are tremendously excited to take. Let's just remember why we are going and why we decided to drive in the first place. Because the plane fare for 4 was ridiculous!!! At least we won't be stuck at a Kentucky Pizza Hut in the snow for 5 days!!

Hopefully, I will regale you all with stories and photos upon our return. Until then, have a wonderful and peaceful long weekend.

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