Are We There Yet?

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childhood, Children, Family, Fathers, Memories, Traditions, Travel, Vacation | Posted on 04-11-2012

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If the journey is half the fun, then childhood road trips sitting alongside my sister were a hoot.

Every Summer, we would journey in the family wagon hundreds of miles to see America at its finest: Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Yellowstone National Park. If it had anything to do with water falls, red rocks, forests, suspension bridges, I’ve been there.

My Dad at the wheel. My Stepmother navigating. My sister and me in the back seat, with no seat belts. No seat belts meant freedom to sprawl. Only an imaginary line down the middle to “separate” us.

Do. Not. Cross. The. Line.

This was decades before iPods and Nintendo DSs. Dude. This was before the Sony Walkman. Dude! My Dad’s car had an 8-track tape. We’d listen to Ray Conniff’s Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. We’d even sing along. Because that sucker would loop.

There was nothing to do. For hours. Or was there?

We’d play the alphabet license plate game. But when there are no cars for one hundred miles, the game goes a little slow.

Are we there yet? No.

When will we get there? We’ll get there when we get there.

I would look into the rearview mirror and check out my face. Any new pimples?

Dang. What to do now?

Rock, paper, scissors. We’d play it over and over and over. Being seven years older than my sister meant I knew how to change my rock to a scissors at the last minute, for the win.

Are we there yet? No.

When will we get there? We’ll get there when we get there.

Then finally, time for lunch. We’d pull over at a rest stop and my Stepmother would spread out a feast on a picnic table. Vienna sausages! Pringles! Spray cheese! Wafer cookies with icing! Fruit cocktail! The kind with the awesome cherries pieces and heavy syrup.

Then it would be time to distribute the HANDI WIPES.

You know those wipes that come in little packets? The kind that are folded in a little square, that smell like alcohol? The kind you get after eating fried chicken?

Our fun was unfolding those suckers into a big square. And check this out. Rolling down the window and letting the hot Summer air dry them out. I mean, this could stretch out five minutes. At least. Then when the handy wipes were all dry, you could stick out your hand and “hand surf” through the air current until our Dad yelled, “The air conditioner is on! Roll up the windows. You’re letting the cold air out.”

We’d get excited when my Dad would stop at a gas station to fill up. We’d beg for a quarter. I’d buy a Hershey bar. My sister would buy something fruity and sour and hard. Something that she knew would last a long time. Like Gobstoppers.

I’d gobble mine up in five seconds. And her candy outlasted mine. Always.¬†Dang her.

Then she would nap. And I’d have no one to chat with and bicker with and play with for a few hours. Silence. Except for Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.

I’d stare out the window. How many more miles until the next rest stop? I had to pee. How many until Mesa Verde?

Are we there yet? No.

When will we get there? We’ll get there when we get there.

By evening, after driving all day, we’d arrive at our Best Western. Always with crisp white sheets. Tiny, rectangular soaps. And a swimming pool. A glorious pool! Finally, something to DO!

The funny thing is, I don’t really remember the monuments, the sights, or the National parks that much. Faded pictures in a musty old photo album remind me that I’ve been to all the places.

Instead, what I remember is the endless driving, sitting alongside my sister. The idleness and how we’d try to pass the time. Ah, the simplicity of childhood.

And I kinda wish I could sit in the backseat with my sister now, to talk. Laugh. Bicker. And play rock, paper, scissors. But she lives an ocean away.

Being an adult is busy¬†and complicated. I haven’t sat idly in the backseat of a car with nothing to do except air out our handy wipes….well, since childhood.

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