I have always been a traveler and my love of travel started as a child. Growing up, my parents took us everywhere and most of the time, our primary mode of transportation (to our chagrin) was via our 1970s wood-paneled diesel station wagon. Our boisterous family of five and sometimes the family dog, piled into the car well before car seats, electronics and any sort of sensible kind of entertainment, and drove from the depths of Minnesota to such far away places as Orlando, Los Angeles, Montana, Wyoming, the south of Texas and even Mexico.
The three of us kids fought like cats and dogs, and looking back I have no idea how on earth my parents survived. To me, the memories of the unending whining, complaining, fighting, boredom and “are we there yet’s” would have driven me mad. I am shocked that they didn’t leave the three of us miserable children on the side of the road. Yet of course they got through the ups and downs of our annual road trips and I have many fond memories of the travels we made.
I would not be lying, however, in saying that I hesitated long and hard before embarking on our own family road trip. For a girl who likes to travel, I loathe being in the car on the long, endless roads of America. I’d much rather be on an airplane or a train where I can get up and down and move around instead of being crammed into an uncomfortable seat for hours staring at farms and roadways. I can’t read in a car because I get carsick so it is either a lot of talking or just sitting there bored silly. The kids seem to do fine thanks to the invention of the portable DVD player and electronic devices. It is me who goes crazy.
As a family, we have done some relatively short road trips to neighboring Wisconsin or even the six and a half hour drive to Chicago. But we held off as long as we could before we were truly ready to embark on the “Great American Road Trip“. I call it that because Americans tend to love their cars and they love road trips. Many families pile their kids into the car once school lets out for the summer and do a roadie somewhere. As uneasy as I felt about it, I decided it was finally our time to experience the highs and lows of a road trip. If I hated it, we wouldn’t do another one again. If I loved it, well then the road is endless.
We packed up our car to the rim with stuff, loaded up on movies and books on tape for the kids, and hit the road driving west to the Black Hills of South Dakota, famous for Mount Rushmore and the gateway to the wild west of Yellowstone National Park and Colorado. I had been on that trip decades ago myself as a ten-year-old child and was curious what it would be like 30 years later as a mother myself.