Road trips will always be near to my heart

When I was very young, perhaps four or five, I remember my dad waking me before the sun was even up. He scooped me in his arms, blankets and all, and carried me to our family van. Strapping on my seatbelt, I settled in and rubbed my groggy eyes. My brothers and sister scrambled in after me.

My mother said a prayer before we began, and then we were on our way.

This wasn’t an unusual occurrence. At least three times a year, for as long as I can remember, my family would pack up the van and head out on our next road trip.

Most of the time, it was either to visit my grandparents and dad’s side of the family in Pennsylvania, who live about a 12 hour drive away; or to vacation in Florida where my parent’s own a timeshare, which is about a 17 hour drive.

Needless to say, long road trips don’t really phase me.

In fact, road trips are good for my heart. Back out onto the road, with nothing planned for the next day except to get passed the next exit. I would always bring stacks of books with me and plenty of crayons to color with in my coloring books to keep me busy. My brothers would bring DVDs so they could watch on my dad’s laptop and my sister was content with just her music. But the best part is not having to do anything.

Of course, there were also some rougher memories as well. I can’t tell you how many times my father threatened to “pull this car over!” and how many times he followed through. Or how many times one of my brothers were grounded for teasing me, or how many times I cried as a result of their teasing.

There was one particularly bad trip to my grandparent’s house one year during Christmastime. It had snowed so much (I think at least a foot, but probably more) that almost all of the exits were closed. My parents were tired and it was near 10 p.m. but we hadn’t eaten dinner yet due to the snow. There had been so much traffic that we watched all three Lord of the Rings movies – extended editions, mind you – just in the state of Ohio.

Note: Ohio does not normally take 12 hours to drive through.

We finally found an open exit and my dad pulled off. We turned into the first restaurant and just as my mom walked up to the door, the manager changed to sign from open to closed. My mother was furious and we were all crabby, but we finally managed to find an open Steak ‘n Shake. My two brothers were constantly teasing and picking on me as we ordered and waited for our food. I remember that I ordered chicken fingers and fries. My brother said one more mean comment and I snapped; I took a chunk of my chicken tender, dipped it in ketchup, and then shoved it in my brother’s face and smeared it all over.

In my head, I didn’t expect him to retaliate so fast. :P

He was shoving his food in my face as well and my mother was screaming at us both. My other brother was cackling in glee, while my dad and sister were oblivious to the whole debacle, absorbed in their own conversation at the other end of the table.

We both were grounded.

But even these memories we laugh about now. (I still take the stance that my brother deserved it.)

On Friday night, just like the old days, my family prepared for a road trip. There are some differences today. My parents no longer own a purple van so we took two separate cars instead. My eldest brother didn’t join us for this trip, but our family expanded last year, so Andrew was joining us for the first time.

Despite all of these differences, some things never change. Vacation in the Gray family remains the same: Daytona Beach, Florida.

10 thoughts on “Road trips will always be near to my heart”

  1. Aww this was well written!! :) I loved going on road trips as well! But we never went that far. Texas is a big state so the farthest we went was New Orleans which is 6 hours away.

    I’ve actually never been to Steak ‘n Shake! I want to go!!
    Do you help drive now during the road trip?

    1. Yeah, our family road trips are long! But between visiting family halfway across the country and then driving for vacation halfway across the country, it’s no biggie, haha. Most people would probably fly the longer distances, but our family could never afford it. We even drove to the Grand Canyon once! Though I think we stopped at a hotel on the way. ;)

      Haha Steak ‘n Shake is great! It’s really cheap, but their food isn’t too bad. Plus, their shakes are sooo good!

      Yeah, we take turns driving now. We left Friday night, and my parents don’t like to drive at night because they are scared they will fall asleep, so between the other four of us, we took turns until someone felt tired.

  2. That is so wonderful that it is a tradition that is still carried on. Hopefully no longer the same arguments happen haha. It’s funny learning about people and the different family dynamics. I am sure he deserved it hahaha.

  3. LOL wow, that is crazy and fun all in one. I had a lot of long road trips as a child too. Mostly between west Texas and Arizona – though there were a few times to Georgia. I remember on one trip from Arizona to Texas my sister and I were not really riding safely in the back of some kind of truck with a hatch. (my grandparents where furious). Anyway, on the trip we sang 100 bottles of beer but since we were young we changed it to pop. LOL I think we drove our parents crazy but I don’t remember it being a terrible time. Looking back on it now, damn my parents were irresponsible letting us ride like that.

    P.S. your brother sounded like he so deserved that – haha!

  4. This was a pleasure to read! :) I haven’t gone to a road trip in such a long time, I think the last one I went to was a ride up to Scotland which was SO long but so comfortable, just listening to music and watching the scenes change! :D

    Haha, it sounds like you always had fun with your siblings minus the teasing of course ;)

  5. Going on road trips with people you love are the best! You spend more time together and gain new experiences together.

    Wow, that winter road trip to your grandparent’s sounded like a nightmare! On the other hand, at least you got through all three of the LOTR movies XD. Haha, that food fight scene sounded like something my brother and I would do!

    Hope you’ll find more places to go road trippin’ to!

  6. That’s cool how your family takes road trips like that! I really enjoyed reading about your memory where you shoved food in your brother’s face, haha. I’m glad you guys are still taking trips together like that :)

    My family has never done a long road trip since we normally flew to places. I think the longest was 6-8 hours when we lived in NY to get to Canada. My longest road trip was actually with friends when we drove to Colorado from Texas :) Those were really good memories!

  7. Huh. Now that I think about it, I never really did “road trips” unless you count me just travelling down four hours south to my grandma’s house, but they were never like overnight trips or anything. A couple of times it was me and my parents, and most other time was in my uncle’s car.

    I didn’t enjoy them as a kid. And I still really don’t. Maybe if I went on a road trip with friends, I may have a different perspective on it XD

    Thanks for sharing your road trip adventures, though! It’s good you have good and some rough memories of them XD That 12-hour trip for you to finish the extended LotR films?! Damn. Reminds me of the time my mum travelled to my grandma’s house on the freeway over a Korean holiday, it started snowing, and the usual four-hour drive became 17-hour . . . X____X

  8. I always liked road trips because we never had to do anything, just like you said. Though I didn’t take very many with my family. We had a few growing up, and sometimes we just slept and were quiet. I don’t think we ever took a road trip longer than five hours so it wasn’t too bad.

    I took quite a few road trips with my exes and with Nick, and it was nice to just play music in the car and chat. Or just listen to the music, really. I always pulled up ‘good road trip music’ and if I ever found a song that was good car music, I just remembered it for next time. xD

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