Friday, January 1, 2010

On the Open Road

My wife and I have families on opposite sides of the country with us in the middle. Periodically we travel to visit one or the other spending 16 to 22 hours in the car on average depending on which direction we drive. Road conditions affect our timing, but we usually have great weather. One year we sat nearly 6 hours in traffic jams waiting for emergency crews to clear the interstate.

After nearly 30 years of marriage, we have our trips down to a routine. We get audio books to pass the time while the kids watch movies or read books. We know the gas stations we need for the best location and price. We know where most of the Taco Bells are located, though our GPS Rosalie knows where the rest are.

If there are sights we want to visit along the way, we leave early, if not, we drive all night and usually straight through. Part of my routine in packing the van is to declare over and over that everything will not fit in the van, even though it usually does. My family always tells me to tie things to the luggage rack on top of the van. I have to explain that it’s not a luggage rack. It’s a canoe/kayak rack that serves its purpose well.

There is an aspect to our trip planning and packing that always goes awry. We start planning snacks to eat along the way. It always starts small. Usually the few packs of gum, mints and sodas fit in a single grocery bag. Then we buy the rest. We get popcorn and snack mix. We buy cookies. We get some beef jerky. You can’t leave without some water for each person. We add some fruit in case we are in a healthy eating mood. The orange candy circus peanuts are yummy and the kids like eating nerds or MMs. Definitely remember the chocolate.

By the time we are ready to go we have a large picnic cooler full of snacks and a few more within an arm’s reach stashed strategically around the vehicle. We never eat it all while we travel. We often don’t need to stock up before returning home. It’s not wasted, though, because that red cooler turns into my private snack vault when I go visit family. I always have what I need to satisfy my sweet tooth while away from home. If I’m really lucky I also have enough for a personal stash when I get home.

Come to think of it, I need to go check behind the oatmeal in the cupboard for the stash of mint chocolate chip Oreos.


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