Road trips always sound idyllic. There are songs and books written about lovely road trips. The open road, the beautiful scenery, the quaint restaurants and the characters you meet along the way. You always plan your road trip is going to be like this:
(Me taking my brother for a little “drive”)
But sometimes your road trip goes like this:
I have taken a lot of road trips. Growing up we always traveled by car. My grandparents lived 10 hours away from us in a little town in Southern Missouri, leaving us no good alternative other than to travel by car. So twice a year, at Thanksgiving and one other time of the year, my parents would load up the van with their three kids and the dog and travel down to my grandparents. We took the trip often enough that we knew where the best rest stops were, and where to stop for food and for gas.
Most of our vacations were also road trips. We drove to Colorado and Yellowstone. One summer we drove from Chicago to San Francisco.
The part about a road trip is that you have to look at getting there as part of the fun. As kids we definitely had our share of touching, poking and aggravating each other. I’m sure my parents did not want to hear our squabbles over the back seat territory, smelly feet and stinky breath. They also got tired of hearing us ask if we were there yet and that we were bored. But we also found ways to entertain ourselves. This was in the days before in-car entertainment centers and iPads so we played the license plate game, travel bingo and my youngest brother’s favorite, travel Yahtzee. We would sing along with performers like Barry Manilow, John Denver and Kenny Rogers played on the eight track player. No road trip was complete without a box of Cheez-Its and other snacks packed in a bag that Mom controlled. We had fun as a family just talking and spending time together. And we learned how big the country was, how crops grew, and saw that we were very blessed and privileged to grow up where we did.
I still often go on road trips. My husband’s family lives in Buffalo, New York, which is about a 10 hour drive for us (I seem to keep ending up with family that is 10 hours away). We could fly but air travel has become a hassle and does not save us as much time as you would think, so we often drive. We do not have any squirmy children to entertain (yet), but we still try to entertain ourselves. We do spend time talking and listening to the radio, and when the trip starts to get really long, I play DJ with our downloaded music so that we can have a little in the car dance party (as much as you can sitting down). But even then, we start to get a little bored, and unfortunately I cannot read in the car since it makes me motion sick. On our last trip to Buffalo we started listening to the podcast, Serial.
Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story – a true story – over the course of an entire season. Each season, we’ll follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. And we won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it’s important to listen to the episodes in order, starting with Episode 1.
We often watch old episodes of Law & Order, so the description of this sounded interesting and there had been quite a bit of buzz about it. I downloaded it on my phone before we left since we would not have access to Wi-Fi on the road. Each episode was broken up into 45 minute to an hour segments. We could easily take a break when we needed to rest our ears or the passenger needed a nap, but it made our trip go so fast because we had a compelling story to follow. It also gave us something to talk about on the long ride (there is nothing interesting on the Ohio turnpike that can spark a conversation). My husband and I had some interesting conversations about the theories presented in the episodes and tried very hard to “solve the crime.” I think we only have one episode of Serial left, but we have at least 18 more hours in the car this weekend to fill up. Season 2 of Serial, with a different story, is supposed to start later this year (hopefully before our two other road trips to Buffalo in October). Do you have any good ideas for podcasts or audio books for road trips? And have you listened to Serial (I would love to hear your theories)?