When I was a kid, my dad would take a month vacation off during the summer. Mom would provide us with a list of clothes and things to bring. We would spend a week packing up the trailer getting ready for the dreaded ROAD TRIP! I really did look forward to the trip every year because I was the kid who was always optimistic that this trip would be the best trip ever.
We always seem to plan this during the hottest part of summer and no, we never had AC in our vehicles. That would have been a waste of money! Open the damn windows and smell that dairy air! There was one particular summer that I remember with much horror now. We took a trip across the Canadian Rockies. My dad decided to treat us to a night eating out in a restaurant. My sisters were 16 (Cathy) and 4 (Carrie) , my brother was 3 (Eric) and I was 10. Cathy wouldn't let me read in the car as it made her sick to her stomach and I got stuck sitting between my youngest siblings to keep them from poking each other. No window seat for me, unless Carrie got sick or had a bloody nose (like she did this on purpose I'm sure) then she got to ride up front with Mom and Dad. The whole while she is up there she keeps peeking into the back seat and smirking that she is special. This act went on for many more trips. She was so smug!
So the night we ate at this restaurant was bedlam. Carrie and Eric are running all over the place and Dad is livid. He swore he wouldn't never take them out to a restaurant ever again. (we did finally go out when I turned 18 and I asked if we could have a family meal out, Dad was worried until I reminded him that Carrie was 12 and Eric 11 and maybe they wouldn't spend all their time under the table during dinner). On the way back to the trailer, we almost hit a horse that running loose in the road. Someone else was not so lucky and had hit another horse. I can still see it on the ground bucking in pain. We were all shook up.
A few days later we were camping in a park. We are all outside enjoying a meal when we hear the rattle of trash cans. Bears are in the park. Everyone dashes into the trailer and Dad locks the door. They hear pounding at the door. Everyone is terrified until Cathy realizes that I'm locked outside with the bears! I carried that resentment of being forgotten a long time.
Of course our car broke down in the middle of no where. Dad got a ride to town from a nice Canadian in a heating oil truck. He took Dad there and back. We got to stay with the stranded car and trailer in the hot hot sun for hours.
Another place we stopped was at the edge of a glacier. Everyone was climbing up onto the glacier to cool off. I saw this wet looking rock to step on to help me up. It was a steep step up onto the glacier. I stepped onto the rock and sunk up to my knees in mud. For that last 40 years I have been reminded by my loving family about the time I fell into a glacier. That trip is forever in my memory bank.
Another year another road trip. We had a new car, a Suburban. Again no AC, wtf? Dad did a weird little air cooler that you added ice to, plugged it into the lighter and a fan would blow cool air at you if you were lucky enough to be in the front seat. Unfortunately I was in the 3rd row seats. Cathy and Carrie got the middle seat and Eric and I were in the way back. The place where the windows don't roll down. Why didn't I get to sit in the middle? Because then Carrie and Eric would be in the back together and fight. At least I could read back there as it didn't bother Cathy. Dad loved the Suburban. He put in seat covers to protect it. These were stiff plastic bumpy patterned covers. There were so hot to sit on and when you got up, you were stuck to them so it felt like you were ripping your skin off. And you got the added bonus of the red marks of the pattern on the back of your thighs for all to see as you walked around. Over time the cover got tears in them. These gave you quite a pinch if you were bare legged on those seats.
Carrie was always getting sick on trips or a bloody nose. That girl lost gallons of blood it seemed. So up in the front with Mom and Dad she would go, getting a bit of cool relief from the lame ass air cooling system. Do you think I'd get to move up a seat? Nope, Eric got to, as he would cry if he had to be in the back alone. If Carrie was sick at night, she got to sleep with Mom in the big bed/sofa in the trailer. This forced Dad to sleep in the fold down bunk by the roof with me. Dad was a big guy and he insisted on sleeping on the edge so I was stuck behind him. Trapped! Of course I always had to get up to use the bathroom in the night so this meant that Dad had to drag out of his sleeping bag, climb down so I could go. Needless to say, Dad put a stop to his having to sleep up there after a couple of times. Carrie just had to suffer in her own bed.
I do remember these trips with fondness tho. It was good and at times bad. And the great thing is that I have forced my own kids to partake in the occasional road trip. Not as long and not as far away. It's a child rite of passage. The ROAD TRIP!