posted by Joe Anaya on August 19th, 2013

The last days of summer are here. And we’ve had a few friends drive into town and hang out. And I’m reminded of the summer road trips my family used to take as a kid.

Like National Lampoon’s Vacation, my dad would pile the family into the van and head across the country from our home near Seattle to his family in Toledo, Ohio and back.

There were the typical kid arguments between my sister and me about “not touching each other,” “not crossing the line,” and “not looking at each other.” The was the ridiculously unsafe activities of freely walking from the front seats to laying in the back to play board-games. And between the long stretches of nothingness, sheer and utter boredom between the Rockies and the Mississippi River. Remember the scene in North By Northwest, where Cary Grant is standing in a vast wasteland of cornfields for as far as the eye can see, soon to be run down by a crop duster? Imagine that, for days of driving, interrupted only by the occasional tourist attraction. If Cary Grant had driven there with my family, he might not have fought so hard to stay alive.

Here are some of the places we stopped and things I remember.

  • Little Big Horn, MT: Custer was a very short man.
  • Yellowstone Park, WY: I threw up after seeing Old Faithful. I’m pretty sure the two were unrelated.
  • Black Hills, WY/SD: Huh?
  • Flintstone Village in Custer, SD: My sister made me get my picture taken standing behind the Wilma cut out.
  • The Corn Palace in Mitchell SD: What else are they going to do with all that corn?
  • Mt. Rushmore, SD: That’s pretty cool. Who’s the guy with the glasses?
  • Crazy Horse Memorial, SD: That’s as far as they’ve gotten? (He has a face now.)
  • Carlsbad Caverns, NM: That’s pretty cool. I was hoping to see bats.
  • Grand Canyon, AZ: I’ve seen the pictures on TV.

At the time, none of this was worth the car-sick, bathroom-searching, drive-thru-food eating trips. Even in college, on a spring break, some buddies were all gung-ho, to take a road trip across America. I refused to go. “We’ll get to see the wide open spaces,” they goaded. “I’ve seen it. And after the first 15 minutes of awe, you still have two more days of driving.”

But nowadays, as I lounge around with the family and watch shows about diners in other states or weird houses across the country, I think to myself, “Let’s drive there. It’d be fun.”



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