“It’s true that most of the adventures you find don’t turn out as well as what you’d like them to, because out of a hundred you come across ninety-nine usually go skew-whiff….But in spite of all that, it’s great to be waiting to see what’s going to happen to you next as you ride across mountains, explore forests, climb crags, visit castles and put up at inns…” –from Don Quixote
I consider myself to be a master of the road-trip. In fact, I cannot remember a summer in which I have not taken a major road-trip. (Major road-trips are anything that is over 8 hours. Anything less is for wimps.) These past few summers have been particularly laden with long drives. This summer shall be no different. To fully enjoy a road-trip (as with anything in life), you have to follow the rules. These have been long enforced by my father. My mother is the rebel here. If Dad’s gone, then I step in and lay down the hammer. Which means, I alone adhere to the road-trip rules.
1) No music/snacks until you’re outside the city limits. I think this was meant to give everyone a breather after the rush of trying to get out the door first thing in the morning.
2) No candy until you leave CO. Last trip we took, Mom was eating candy at 8 a.m. I expressed disgust. Kari and Ali did not have my fortitude and eagerly joined in.
3) Music alone shall not suffice. A little music is okay, but at this point we all have disparate tastes. The only thing we can get united behind are audiobooks. This summer I’ll be listening to Little Dorrit (at 36 hours this will probably see me through a few days of driving). When we were little I remember listening to Babe.
4) Adventures in Odyssey are a must. Especially because Kari hates them.
5) White cheddar popcorn can be eaten only in the late afternoon.
6) The middle seat ends up doling out all the food. It’s a thankless task (I always sit in the middle seat), but it does give you a sense of power.
*The following are additions that I have made in the past two or three years.
7) No stopping for gas unless you’re running on empty. This adds a modicum of risk to driving on I-80. Will I or won’t I run out of gas and end up stranded in NE?
8) At least four episodes of This American Life are mandatory per day. They are perfect hour segments. Usually I end up laughing or crying my way down the highway. The time flies.
9) You must eat at Culver’s. Even if this involves calling Dad and making him your personal GPS (this happened in IL last summer), you must eat at Culver’s and only Culver’s while driving through the mid-west.
10) One’s right cheek must always be filled with sunflower seeds. Shells are spit into an empty cup. This one is a tough one for some people. I was driving to IN from DC with a friend. I’m not sure if he ever adjusted to the fact that I looked like I had a chaw of tobacco in my mouth for the entirety of the trip.
This summer I’ll be in IA, IN, MI, MN and KY. Possibly MO and KS. I’m eagerly looking forward to loading up the snacks and the cds (yes, I still burn cds) and driving off on ol’ I-80 careening along on fumes until I see the next blue and white sign for Culver’s.