The Good: Mark & I road tripped to a cabin in the smokey mountains for our honeymoon the day after we got married. Seriously, the best road trip ever! I don't remember a thing we saw, how long it took, where we ate or any of those other things you do. All I remember was driving with a huge smile on my face all the way to Tennessee....:)
The Bad: Claire was almost 3, Luke & Caleb were 6 months, we were traveling home to Texas in a 1995 Intrepid. Babies screaming....Claire squished in between them. Stopping to nurse and burp and change diapers every hour or so. Totally physically and emotionally exhausting. Completely no fun.
The Ugly: Now here's a story that can only be attributed to a bunch of folks who just didn't know any different. Thus it falls right into the section of my life I call: Redneck Reality.
Just to give you a sense of who I was at the time, here's a picture of me on that trip. But this happy smile-y birthday picture was taken at least a week after the brunt trauma of the road trip.
When I was almost 4 years old, my family decided to go to my Aunt & Uncle's lakehouse in Indiana. It's about a 7 hour drive straight through. And that was exactly what my parents planned to do. Drive straight through. Which is a grand and noble plan for folks with teen-age children in an age of DVD-clad vehicles and comfy, cushion-y reclining seats. But this was 1980. And they didn't have a single child who was a teenager.
They had 4 kids. Ages 8, 6, almost 4, & 2. And a Grandmother, 70 somthing, who was going along for the fun. But because they really are good parents, they planned and prepared as best they could for this trip.
Their vehicle, a 1975? gray cargo van was equipped with 2 seats. The driver's and the shotgun. The whole back of the van was cavernous or so it seemed to an almost 4 year old. So cavernous, in fact, that my parents put in some extra seating to make the drive more comfortable for the family.
The first piece of unique vehicular seating came from the foyer of their home: an antique 5 ft long wooden church pew. This was w-a-y before seatbelt laws. Back when mommies carried babies home from the hospital on their laps and brothers spent entire car rides wrestling in the back seat.
The pew thing could've caught on with car manufacturers (and maybe that's where they got the term BENCH SEAT!!!) because it was truly effecient seating for a cargo van. All 4 of the kids could sit up on that highly waxed wooden pew and slide from one end to the other with every stop and acceleration. This is the stuff memories are made of...two older brothers squeezing you against a wooden pew armrest, all the while giggling, "We can't help it! It's Dad's fault, 'cause he sped up the van and we have no choice but to lean against you with all our weight! Really, we'll stop squishing you as soon as he comes to a stop sign!" Memories, I tell you. Memories.
But that church pew didn't have enough room for Grandmother. (If it did, I'm sure my brothers wouldn't have pinned her against the armrest!) Hmmm...What to do? Order an extra seat from the van factory? No. A folding chair? Nope. Oh! I know! One of those lawn chairs with the plastic mesh weave! Wrong again. My ever ingenuous parents just put a large, floral upholstered rocking chair in there with the pew. (Bet that was gonna be your next guess, wasn't it?)
Road trips Rock.
Grandmother was comfortably rocking and happily knitting an afghan all the way to Indiana.
I do remember somehow escaping the squeeze of the death on the pew and sitting up there on Grandmother's lap for a while. But my little brother got the majority of the cushy lap time because he was the baby. Actually, most of my visual memories from the road trip are from the vantage point of the floor looking up at the rocking chair and the pew. I'm guessing that was my seat of choice as the little girl ousted from the rocking chair and hiding from the pew boys squeeze torture.
But we haven't yet touched upon the ugliest part of the Redneck Rocking Chair Road Trip. The ugly part involves a 5-quart ice cream bucket. Do you know the type? (For those with an overactive gag reflex, I suggest you stop reading here.)
As any frugal family of 6 (plus a Grandmother) does when they road trip. We packed all our food to eat along the way. No MickyD's for us. It was white bread with pressed ham sandwiches. And bananas and apples and cheese puffs. And we can't forget the thermos full of water with plastic cups from the kitchen cupboard. (There's no need for disposable plastic cups or lids or canned beverages or travel mugs. This was 1980 people! Back when paper plates were a luxury and the travel mug was yet to be invented) So we made our way across Illinois and into Indiana as a downright picnic on wheels!
But after small children eat...they gotta go. But in case you missed the line up there in the 2nd paragraph of this true store, we were driving straight through. We were not stopping to go.
Here's where the bucket comes in. We used it "to go." And then just put the lid back on it and kept on rolling down the highway. Which was all fun and games until the little brother decides he must do a Number 2 in the bucket. At which point, a flimsy plastic lid, ain't gonna do much.
Road trips Rock.