Some of the readers here who have been following my excerpts from my newest book, expressed a desire to know more about our vacation, so here is the next segment of the chapter: ROAD TRIP – Or Are We There Yet, Papa Smurf….
To read the first part of this chapter, click HERE
By the time school was over for the summer, I’d saved up enough for gas – keep in mind that this was a long, long time ago and it didn’t cost a hundred dollars to fill the gas tank of a van. I even had enough to pay for one or two nights in a motel if I couldn’t talk Carl into camping along the way.
Yeah. Like that was going to happen. Carl has never been an outdoors man. His idea of roughing it is to drive a Winnebago from motel to motel, so it didn’t look promising for the camping idea. But I could talk him into picnics instead of restaurant meals, especially on the way to Michigan. We sure didn’t want to run out of money on the way home. Who wants to be stuck in the middle of Missouri with empty wallets? So my fist was tighter than Mr. Potter’s as we finished planning the trip.
The kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement for the entire week before we left. They made all kinds of plans for how much fun they were going to have, not realizing that hours and hours of riding in the car would precede that fun. The way they talked I’m sure they thought it would only take a half hour to get from Texas to Michigan. A thought I’m sure Carl wished was true. Driving with the kids is not his idea of a good time. Sometimes he doesn’t even fare well with a two-mile trip to church on Sunday.
Finally the day arrived. We packed the van, and created a place in the back for the kids to play, and when the time came, to sleep. (This was long before mandatory seat belts or car seats for kids, and lots of families traveled this way.) We had one bench seat across the very back of the van, and the rest of the space up to the captains’ chairs was empty. That’s where we put a small mattress and several sleeping bags, and all the kids.
We counted heads, to make sure we hadn’t left anyone behind, and headed out. I had this idyllic vision of the kids playing quietly in the back, while Carl and I listened to music and had a meaningful conversation.
The kids were wild as Tasmanian devils, and we’d barely gone a mile before I started to wonder if taking five kids on a 1200 mile trip was really such a hot idea. Not to mention the fact that we would have to go another 1200 miles to get home again.
The thought of saying, “Oh, hell, let’s go home and paint the garage” was tempting. But I knew Carl would rag on me forever for changing my mind. Plus, one look at the eager young faces of the kids quelled any thought of abandoning the adventure.
I settled back in my seat, and we went another 30 miles before things got too bad. Then the kids started asking every five minutes if we were going to cross the Mississippi River soon. Then they wanted to know if we were still in Texas. Then they wanted to know if we’d be in Kentucky in time for dinner. We finally told them not to call us, we’d call them.