In a few months, we will be road tripping to visit my mom’s side of the family in Wisconsin. I am inordinately excited about this, because for nearly every summer of my childhood (and adolescence and quite a few early adulthood), this was my vacation. My mom, dad, brother, sister, and I (and most of the time my grandparents) would get up at some insane hour (which wasn’t all that crazy if you hadn’t been able to sleep all night from the excitement, which I hadn’t), pile into the station wagon / van / minivan (depending on the year), assume our positions (seat assignments usually made by me), and head off on a 2 or 3 day trek, depending on the route, my dad’s work schedule (he’d do a little business on the way up to save vacation days), and the educational side trips planned. Every year was familiar and fresh at the same time.
We’ve seen things like Abraham Lincoln’s home, the St. Louis Cathedral, and every zoo and amusement park in the Midwest. I think I visited every winery in the state of Missouri before I could legally drink (no, I did not sample – I was with my folks!). We became connoisseurs of hotel swimming pools. And I developed a deep and abiding love for White Castle.
Oddly, we never rode to the top of the St. Louis Arch. I finally checked that one off on a business trip. Go figure.
So now I get to share this excursion as a mom with my own kids. I know that I will be exhausted beyond measure by the time we pull into my aunt’s driveway, wondering why in God’s name I ever wanted to do this, and I may have sold a child on the side of the highway long before then. But for now, I’m looking nostalgically forward to eating lots of greasy fast food, that chemically clean aroma of a just-unlocked hotel (OK, motel) room, and putting my feet up on the dashboard.
I have children’s Benadryl on my side.