Let the Adventures Begin

Today’s post is from Tracy Farr. He has a twisted sense of humor to say the least. When he first started writing a column for me at WinnsboroToday.com, his blog was related to a fictional town, Stinky Creek, Texas. Then he started another blog at TracyFarr.net. His latest is School Bus Cowboy and it has the best of all of his writing. If you visit his blog, be sure to read his May 16th post about breakfast cereal. Enjoy….

Just the other night as I was driving home from Dallas, an SUV zoomed past me and I could see the kids sitting in the backseat watching a video. “Wall-E” it was – right there in the backseat. So since I’d never seen the movie, I sped up and stayed right on their bumper to watch it. It wasn’t quite as relaxing as a drive-in theater, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.

The movie wasn’t half bad (even without sound), but when it was over, I started feeling sorry for those kids, as well as all the other kids of today. They’re not near as lucky as we were when we were kids. Kids of today never go anywhere without a hand-held video game or a stack of movies. And it doesn’t matter if they’re driving to Washington to visit the Smithsonian or they’re going down the street to Wal-Mart. See kid. See car. See kid get in car. See kid in car watching “Wall-E.” See parents thankful their kid is quiet for two hours.

When we were kids, we didn’t have such things as video games and DVD players and cell phones and text messaging. Nosirree! We had it much better. We had comic books and Etch-A-Sketch and portable chess games and maps so we’d know where we were. And if we got tired of all those luxuries, we made up games like “Count The Road Kill Between Towns” or “Stare Your Brother Down Until He Punches You In The Gut.”

Ah, yes. Those were the days.

My favorite long-trip activity was to follow our route on a map, marking off the towns as we passed them by. I’d say, “We’re coming up on Childress. Only 509 more miles till we get to Wolf Creek Pass.” And when we got to the other side of Childress I’d say, “That was Childress. Next town is Memphis. Only 506 miles to Wolf Creek Pass.”

I’d do my little human GPS thing until my Dad would say, “I’m coming up on a Truck Stop. You mention how many more miles we have left to Wolf Creek Pass and I’m leaving you there.”

Kids these days don’t care about maps. They don’t appreciate the joys of unfolding a new one, trying to follow along from town to town, and then trying to fold the map back exactly the way it came – which, by the way, requires an engineering degree to do.

Maps are a part of our American legacy. Our Founding Fathers came to this country using maps; they founded Virginia using maps; they went west and discovered Hollywood, Rodeo Drive and Big Screen TVs using maps. Of course, those maps were not folded – they were rolled up. Trying to fold a map back then would have taken precious time away from exploring the “New World.” And that sense of exploration is what is missing when our kids watch “Power Rangers” instead of counting the utility poles between Wichita Falls and Amarillo. (“Count The Utility Poles” was another fun activity our parents challenged us to do)

When we were kids, parents were much more inventive and creative than the parents of today. They had to make up things to do, tell stories, challenge kids at who could be the quietest the longest, and a whole lot of other fun-loving trip activities. Parents had to think on their feet, they had to manage crises on the go, they had to be sneaky, inventive, and resourceful.

Parents of today are taking the easy way out of traveling when they say, “Put in another video.” Those parents are actually sending a message to their children that it’s better to interact with Disney instead of with the people and world around them. Well, I say instead of letting Little Johnny watch “The Lion King,” let him count the buzzards that are circling that dead cow out in the middle of the pasture between Amarillo and Dumas. Let him experience the “Circle of Life” up close and personal – and in extreme high definition.

So the next time you go on a trip, whether it be to Branson, Missouri or the K-Mart down the street, I dare you – I triple-dog dare you – to leave the DVDs and the video games at home and come up with something to do on your own. Flex those little grey cells up there in that noggin of yours. When you do, that’s when the true adventures will really begin.

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