How can you plan a summer road trip with the kids without reflecting on one of the great American comedies of all time, Vacation? My favorite quote in the movie, “I’m so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station,” is pure road trip nostalgia.
Some of my best childhood memories were road trips to Florida in my Dad’s Ford full size conversion van with captain’s chairs and a fold out couch in the far back. Seat belts? Not when my sister and I were playing board games on the floor of the van or bouncing on the couch. Our only electronic entertainment was a mini football game that I played for hours on end. And we were stuck listening to whatever tapes my Dad wanted to play, which rotated between Jimmy Buffet, Rod Stewart and the Beach Boys, so it could have been worse.
And who knew that it was illegal to have a cooler of beer in between my parents’ seats that plugged into the cigarette lighter? Well, we later found out the cooler was within the boundaries of the law; just not the enjoyment of a beer while cruising through the Indiana countryside. No wonder my younger sister got that question wrong on her driving test.
This is all leading up to our road trip this summer. Just me and the kids for five days in Wisconsin Dells followed by an extended weekend cabin, meeting up with family. I’ll probably buy some Planter’s Cheez Balls and a box of Capri Suns. Claire has a Mad Libs book and I’m sure we’ll play the license plate game at some point.
Not everything is the same though. Yes, they will be in seat belts the entire time. There will be a iPod or iPad in use. And I’m fairly confident I can wait until the hotel to enjoy a cold beer.
Coincidentally, I’m the same age (40) as Chevy Chase was when Vacation hit the theaters. I can’t wait for the trip. And I can already taste that sandwich from a gas station.