So here we are, on the verge of another of our signature summer vacations — the great, and greatly underrated, road trip. Over several years of hitting the road for destinations as varied as Utah (five national parks, one really mean case of stomach flu); the Oregon coast; and Taos, New Mexico (including a run-in with a rather vengeful vortex in Sedona, Arizona), here we are again — ready to load up the car with snacks, compliments of Trader Joe’s; music, compliments of our iPods; and paper towels, compliments of that inevitable road-trip resource, Target.
Our experience with vacationing on the road has led me to put together a list of recommendations, or Road Trip Tips, if you will. Trust me, they’re tried and true.
1. Pee whenever a restroom opportunity presents itself.
2. Although tempting, do not stick out your tongue and make ugly faces back at the 3-year-old in the car next to you who is doing just that. He or she will tell his mommy and you will be in big trouble when his mommy tells his daddy.
3. Do not attempt to read while you are a passenger; motion sickness and the need for paper towels may ensue.
4. Do not attempt to read while you are the driver (except for road signs). If I have to explain this to you, I’m revoking your license.
5. Do not be lured by the “look how interesting this small, unmarked road with no guard rails that runs along the edge of this tremendously deep ravine in the middle of nowhere is” temptation. There’s a thin line between having balls and having brains. (If you do succumb, you’ll thank me for reminding you to have used that last restroom.)
6. Make sure the driver and passenger have an equal say in what music to listen to. One caveat — if the passenger falls asleep, the driver has full autonomy over music selection. (In our case, that means B. gets to listen to his stuff all the time — once we reach a steady 70 mph, I’m fast asleep.)
7. Do not stop to eat at any place that has a sign reading, “Good food. Eat here,” because about 100 miles from then you’ll be saying (while doubled over with discomfort), “Bad food. Shouldn’t have eaten there.”
8. Finally, get out and stretch your legs every couple of hours or so. (Just don’t leave the key in the ignition while doing so.)
There’s nothing like the romance of the road, the panorama of the American landscape, the majesty of purple mountains and amber grain fields.
Or that knot in your stomach when you realize you forgot to shut the garage door.
© 2014 Claudia Grossman