It’s funny how different road trips are when you’re a kid

Published 6:19 am Tuesday, December 25, 2012

When I was growing up, long road trips were a regular occurence in my family. We lived in five different states — Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Iowa and Alabama — before I had even started the third grade. And when we weren’t moving the entire house, we were travelling across the country to visit friends in the South, or family in the Midwest, or Disney World, or a variety of other far-flung locations.

Of course, me and my siblings were like a lot of American children on road trips. It would be fine for the first few hours, but then the whining of “Are we there yet?” or “How much further till we get there?” would start. However, my parents were smart and figured out a great way to keep a lot of the whining at a minimum — we’d get an early start (like around 3 a.m. or so) and then the kids would drag their pillows and blankets into the car and go right back to sleep. By the time we woke up, it was around 9 or 10 and we’d already been on the road for six or more hours.

I’m a bit jealous of kids today, who have iPads, or laptop computers, or iPods or a whole variety of fun technologies to keep them entertained. I did have the old heavy-as-a-brick Game Boy, with the black-and-white screen, but most of our entertainment consisted of puzzle books, coloring books, “Travel games” (if you’ve never tried playing travel Monopoly in a car… let’s just say it’s as hard as it sounds) or just talking with each other. There were also a few family games we liked to play, such as “My Father Owns a Grocery Store” where the kids would come up with an abbreviation (like “c.c.” for cottage cheese) and then the others would have to ask yes/no questions to narrow it down, or “I Spy Something… (Color).”

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This Christmas, I was set to take another long road trip, to drive to Biloxi, Miss. While it’s certainly not as long as the crazy Iowa-to-Georgia treks of my younger days, it’s still a pretty lengthy drive. It’s funny how a trip that seemed soooo long as a kid now seems like it’s over in a blink of an eye. I guess it’s because you have so much more you can focus on as a driver — the road, the music on the radio, looking out for landmarks. I’m still trying to get an early start in the morning, when I can, though. When you add in the fact that you “gain an hour” driving to Mississippi, it makes the drive seem even shorter.

I still sometimes miss those times playing “My Father Owns a Grocery Store” or “I Spy,” though. Maybe I’ll play it with my family sometime during the Christmas holidays … for old time’s sake.