As a child, I grew to hate road trips. My parents did not like flying anywhere, which meant any family trip was by car. I hated it.
I’m talking about trips that would make the original “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation” look functional. Three older brothers, parents and long trips to go visit our version of Cousin Eddie.
That led to me hating the thought of road trips as an adult. If I can fly, I will be willing to go. Someone says drive — and I’m out.
Then, we get to this summer. With the economy being what it is and being short of time because, let’s face it, parenting seems to revolve around running a kids’ taxi service, I have had to reconsider my hatred of long car rides.
Most summers we will visit an aunt in Orlando and brother in Pennsylvania and my daughter’s biological sister in Oregon. This year, flight costs being what they are, that’s just not feasible.
That led to me looking at what else we could do. My parents said they liked the idea of taking a trip with my children and me to South Dakota.
After looking at calendars and trying to figure it out, we went on a spur-of-the-moment-type trip to the Black Hills. Getting up early to pack in a family of eight — my children, my parents and a nephew and niece.
At 5:30 a.m. with everyone inside the Expedition, I fixed the rearview mirror, seeing all the faces staring up front. The memories of childhood car trips came flooding back. I dreaded putting that car in reverse and starting the trek.
Fast forward six hours of actual quiet driving and we made it to the city where the famous Mount Rushmore sits.
The trip was fantastic. My kids love farms. We went to the little farm in nearby Keystone three times, letting my kids hold baby goats, feed orphaned calves and run from the older goats wanting food.
We saw the mountain. I will tell you my 5-year-old was not overly impressed. The farm was his thing.
We saw all the sights and had a blast.
Driving home, again in a quiet car, I realized a few things. Today’s kids have tablets and phones and keep their heads down most of the trip. Separating the kids who fight the most was also good planning on my part.
The family time I got with my mom, dad, kids and brother’s children was worth every minute. In our busy lives, we tend to forget the value of taking some time to relax at something as simple as what I would call a very large petting zoo.
We forget the value of walking with your kids down a tourist town’s main street to look at a variety of items, joke, eat ice cream and have quality time together without talking about schedules, chores and all that day-to-day home stuff.
Will I go on another road trip? I won’t say I loved the gas and food prices on the trip (although still lower than plane tickets).
However, I will say six hours in a car with family is no longer going to be a phobia. I can see me doing it again, and instead of dread as I hit reverse, there will likely be a lot more optimism.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.
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