My parents loved the family road trip.
Since my father was in the military, he would have 30 days off a year for vacation. He always waited until summer to use them.
The trips always started with Dad getting out the old Rand McNally, a Best Western Guide and a pad of paper. (These were the days before Mapquest.) He would then map out our route correlating travel times with Best Western Motel locations. Dad knew he would be doing most of the driving while mom read the map, and my brother and I sat in the back of the metallic blue Chevy Impala station wagon continually saying, "I'm not touching yoouuuuuu." It's a wonder dad never pulled the car over.
Lunches at roadside parks consisted of foods that would survive long times out of the refrigerator. Mom found something called "deviled ham" and another product known as "Cheez Whiz." She would use these together to fashion a ham and cheese sandwich with mustard on the white bread that stuck to the roof of your mouth. (Ah memories!) The best thing about these lunches were that we got to have chips and soda - two items we rarely saw at home. I think these counterbalanced the weirdness of the "ham & cheese" sandwiches. Once again, in mom's attempt to make this trip as economical as possible she found these cheese puffs that came in a canister made by Planters.
All of these things are what made the trip so memorable. There were no hand-held electronic devices, no dvd players for the back seat. Instead, my brother and I played Mad Libs and state license plate bingo. Sometimes we even sat in the cargo area of the station wagon - no seatbelt laws back then.
The best part of the trip was in the evening when we pulled into the Best Western Motel. My brother and I would race to the room to change into our swim suits and jump into the pool until suppertime - usually in the motel dining room or the nearby associated local greasy spoon. Afterward, we would go to bed because we knew Dad would want to get up before the birds. This is when my brother and I both found out we talk in our sleep. What would we say? Some secrets are best left unsaid.
As I grew older, I spent less time on these family trips, choosing to spend my summers in New York with my crazy cousins.
I miss those times. More importantly, I miss the simplicity of those times.