Summer Road Trips
The kids have just finished their second week of summer vacation. We just got back from a family reunion in Dunster, B.C. If you have never been up the Robson Valley, it is worth the drive. Seeing the glacier on Mount Terry Fox, the abundant wildlife, and the headwaters of the mighty Fraser River are a few of the many magnificent sights. This post is more about the road trip itself rather than the destination and it is not just about this road trip but all family road trips. This year has been an exceptional year of driving for me. It has been exceptional not only because I have driven over 7,300 kilometers in the past two months but on road trips like the most recent one with the family to Dunster, you really bond . I know of course that the bonding seems to happen much after the road trip itself. During those interminable stretches between gas stations and fast food stops are the inevitable fights that bored children get into. As we were driving the 1000 kilometer round trip, it really strikes you that it is only in a car (or Volkswagen van) that the whole family spends this much time so close together.
I vividly remember all the road trips we went on as a family when I was a kid. I remember my parents driving my sister and I to Disneyland in a small, four door sedan without air conditioning. Between fights, my sister and I would pass the time by playing “punch buggy”. I am sure this is where my Volkswagen fascination started. We would also chat and tease each other about boyfriends and girlfriends. We would beg our parents to find a radio station that played pop music. When we became tired, we would fluff our pillows and lean against each other for a snooze while my Dad pushed on. The hi-light of the road trip was stopping at a fast food restaurant or stopping at a hotel that had a swimming pool. I know that without a road trip, I never would have spent that much time in a small space with my sister or my parents. I probably learned more about my sister during a road trip than at any other time of our lives.
This past weekend’s road trip was a beautiful bonding experience for our family. The three kids took turns riding in the rear facing jump seat. They would tickle each other and between the giggling would pass around the bag of Goldfish crackers. Unlike my experience on the road trip with only an FM radio for entertainment, our kids pack along a portable DVD player and their favorite DVDs. Just like when I was a kid, they eventually drift off to sleep with pillows stuffed between each other. As I look in the rear view mirror at the sleeping or giggling or fighting children, I think to myself how lucky I am to be able to have this experience with our kids. I wonder if my Dad looked in the rear view mirror and thought the same. I wonder if one day they might set forth on their own road trip with their own kids in the back. What will their kids do to entertain themselves? I can only hope that “punch buggy” is still relevant in the future. I hope the kids of the next generation will have the opportunity to bond in the car during a summer road trip.