Ah, that time of year, when families load up the car and head off for a road trip.

When it starts, Mom and Dad say, kids, this is going to be exciting and so much fun; the kids look at them with that look that says … are you serious??? All of us cooped up in a car — at the best a minivan for hours and hours!!!

My Dad took the four of us kids and Mom on those trips. Granted, we were just going to see Grandparents … but that was at least a 10 hour drive and that was just to get from West Texas to East Texas.

In those days, we didn’t have McDonalds in every town of 500 or more. So, we packed baloney sandwiches and some drinks in a cooler for when we found a roadside park.

We didn’t have electronic video games, cell phones. Ipods, Ipads … heck, we didn’t have any music devices. If we were going to hear any music, it came from the tinny sounding speaker on the front dash — country music or just static as we left one signal and were too far to pick up another.

Some of your older readers are nodding and remembering; younger readers are cringing … and all of you are correct: those trips would be marked with fighting:

“She’s on my side!”
“He’s touching me!”
“Larry is drooling!”
“She’s looking at me!”
“She’s breathing too loudly!”
“Somebody farted!”

I’m surprised that Dad didn’t lose his voice during those trips as many times as he said:
If I have to stop this car!”

And there were times, he did stop the car.

I do know our family wasn’t that uncommon. Many times, we would pass a car on the side of the road where a father would have some child outside, spanking and teaching them the lesson all fathers and mothers leave with us the rest of our lives.

Have you ever watched those movies where you see wagon trains headed West? Long lines of Conestoga wagons snaking through Indian country? Now, those were road trips.
And did you notice that there were often ropes hanging from the wagons and did you notice that you didn’t see that many kids? I’m convinced that ropes were often used to tie up the unruly kids after the father had to say once too often: If I have to pull this wagon over to the side of this trail!

And then there’s the question that is like chalk on a blackboard: Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

As I write this, I’m thinking: I don’t know how the four of us kids survived any of those road trips. I can’t even begin to imagine taking a road trip with small kids again.

I’m also reminded of a friend who planned a road trip to the Grand Canyon.

It was just him and his 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter.

They drove and drove and drove.

The last stop they made was maybe 20 miles from their destination, and he told the kids, “Tomorrow, are going to get up really, really early so we can be at the Grand Canyon in time to see the sun rise.”

He was excited; the kids were thinking: it’s just a hole in the ground.

The next morning, Father coaxes them from their beds and gets them into the car where they quickly fall back asleep. He drives through the early morning darkness and finally arrives at the South Rim. He stops, and while the kids continue sleeping, he gets out and walks to a spot where the faintest light is beginning to break. He just knows this is the place to watch the sunrise.

With great effort, he gets the kids out of the car and in place for the great event.

The sun breaks above the horizon; the light spreads so many colors in the rock formations that it appears a rainbow was dumped into the canyon.

Father is shaking his head in amazement … totally captured by the moment.

His awe lasts … maybe two minutes … before one of the kids says: Ok, we’ve seen the Grand Canyon. Now, what?