Through the years I have taken many road trips with my children.
Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall... no matter the season, if there was enough time to squeeze in a quick trip to visit my Grandma and cousins in Ohio we loaded up the car and away we went.
One of my favorite trips was Independence Day 1989.
My daughters were 9 and 4 and my son, he was 8 weeks old.
My car was my favorite one to date. A red Hyundai Accent 5-door with a sun roof and soft, fluffy upholstery.
It was also my very first New car.
We set out early on a weekday morning, traveling Rt 70 into Pennsylvania, then following the winding roads that cross into West Virginia with a detour to the cemetery to put flowers on my grandparent's and brothers graves.
Once in West Virginia the girls started the ritual of calling out which route to take over the mountains.
"Follow the River"
"Over the mountain"
"Go the back way"
"Stop at OUR gas station"
No, we didn't own the gas station, but we always stop at the same stations on our trips.
That way the kids know how far to the next stop- in hours if not in miles- and with frequent trips the employees become familiar and recognize us when we stop in.
After our stop in Bridgeport at OUR gas station to fill up on snacks and fuel I had the girls pick a number between 1-10. The one closest to my number got to pick the route over the mountain.
I don't remember which one got to pick, but we took the route along the river that led through Clark Gable's hometown. We took a short detour to drive past the house he was born in. The girls complaining all the while wanting to know what the big deal about a Black and White movie guy was... years later they saw Gone with the Wind and stopped asking THAT question!
We stopped at a little diner for a late lunch.
The hole-in-the-wall kind that always has the best food ever.
Lesson learned the hard way? Go where the truckers go. They travel the same routes and know where to eat!
And when they see a young mom and her kids travelling they pay attention and keep an eye out.
The girls talked to the waitress and told them where we were headed. I saw a couple truckers nod to each other and head out as we paid our bill.
Yep, they were going our way and they kept pace and looked out for us until we got to the turn off to Grandma's house.
SmartGirl threw up somewhere around Donegal, Pa. Her first ever bout of car sickness. And GoodMom? She got in a snit because she had to sit in the back with 'The Baby' for part of the trip.
But we look back and remember that trip and laugh.
We made the trips for years and years. The vehicle getting bigger as we added more children to our family. The detours sometimes fun, sometimes shortcuts and sometimes not-so-short-cuts.
There was the time ManBoy couldn't figure out if BratChild has spilled her drink or over-flowed her diaper...
We all laugh whenever we remember his little voice calling out " It sure doesn't taste like Lemonade".
Or the time we got a flat tire when a milk crate flew off the truck in front of us. We were headed to Ohio, this time for Grandma's funeral. I was leading the way with GoodMom driving behind.
The kids still bring up 'That time Grandma almost got run over by a Saturn'. Because, well, she almost did. She ran across 3 lanes of the Ohio Turnpike to retrieve the milk crate because... well we still have no idea why... nearly getting clipped by a blue Saturn going 70 miles an hour.
We head South now instead of West. And we travel at night with the truckers watching our backs to avoid the heat and the traffic jams on I-95.
We carry our cooler filled with water bottles and juice and apples and fruit bites... and chocolate to keep BusyMom focused. The kids watch movies and listen to iPods and take turns sitting by me just talking while I drive.
There are lots of memories from lots of road trips and really, when I sit back and think about it, every trip is my favorite for one memory or another.
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