I am sitting here reliving my youth. It’s the same damn nightmare I remember, just different. I am driving on Interstate 84 finally headed home from a two-week long trip to Colorado. And, I am in fact twitching like a patient in a mental rehabilitation center. Is that the politically correct way to say that? If not, Lord I apologize.
Do you remember that nightmare? I don’t think there is an adult in their mid-forties that didn’t have the same nightmare as I did. A dark green metallic station wagon, simulated wood grain side panels with dark green metallic vinyl upholstery. Windows sealed tight. Air conditioning off. Dad chain smoking Parliaments and on enough coffee to kill a small horse. Mom reading a book or taking care of the whining kids in the back. Kids almost in tears to the point of twitching themselves. Those kids were me and my sister. My father trying to break the land speed record that he apparently held from last year’s trip to Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Disney Land. It doesn’t matter. I remember the chatter on the CB radio. And the whip antenna on the back chrome bumper of the green machine. “We’ve gotta Kojak with a Kodak at mile marker twenty five.” “Breaker one nine, breaker one nine.” The CB was the size of a large toaster. The car had an eight track with some kind of country-western crap playing over and over. Finally, at the breakdown point, my sister asks, “Are we there yet?”
These road trips were a right of passage for most kids my age. I remember writing of them often when I returned to the school year, as did most of my friends. This was our little part of history. We stayed in hotels, motels, parks, campgrounds, and even in the metallic green monster itself. We snuck sips of Budweiser from our dad’s beers when they weren’t looking. Sometimes too many sips. We peed on trees far and wide. Ate hot dogs, hamburgers, and beans. Tons of beans. Then of course there were the s’mores. Hershey’s, marshmallow, and graham crackers. Not to mention the snacks that were full of sugar along the way. A bribe, to keep our mouths shut. Didn’t they realize the sugar was the cause of all of their problems?
Am I hitting a chord within your soul yet? Enter 2011. Road trip rights handed over from our parents to Heather and me now . I am thinking of that line in the Matrix Revolutions, Morpheus looks at his ex-girlfriend Naomi as she asks him to dance, “Some things never change.” Then they hear her current boyfriend call her name, and he finishes with, “And some things do change.” Yes we have traded the green machine in for a Toyota Matrix on this trip, sometimes we take the FJ. We don’t smoke, we do try to break our personal records, knowing all too well that it will only be possible if we actually break the speed limits in larger quantities than previously. I truly now know why you try to break those records though. Because the faster you get there, the faster you get out of the car and away from the screaming kids. Heather does read. I can actually type on the laptop thanks to learning to fly an airplane in IFR conditions-that motion sickness thing kind of goes away. We both drink tons of coffee. We both drive. And we both argue with the kids and each other. The car gets trashed. The kids freak out. Although not as much as I did. Maybe it’s all the movies on the iPhones and soon coming iPads.
Is it worth it? Well as an adult, if you actually take the time to look around while traveling, yes it is. You will quickly realize that those pieces of Americana that you remember from your youth do still exist. There are places in Idaho where the seventies never left. The worlds biggest frying pan is still in Kansas or close to it. And now you can beat your parents records because your car can actually travel faster on less gas. All this is contingent on the fact that you can put up with your kids and your spouse long enough to survive the journey. Yeah it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t trade any of this. What’s that saying? “Life is worth the journey...” Good feeling gone. I have to go, Jade wants to know if we are there yet.