Monday, July 09, 2007

Family Road Trip

Last week I finally took down the Fantastic Four movie poster that has hung on my office wall for the last year and in it's place I put a road map of the United States, which also featured the southern half of Canada.

Since that time I've come down with the travel bug. I've often found myself standing in front of that map and looking at places I'd like to visit. I've easily planned out a dozen cool road trips standing in front of that map. A trip around the Great Lakes. A tour of historic Route 66 (there so many cool places to see there). The Midwest. Yellowstone. The maritime provinces. It's great to dream!

I loved the family road trips I had growing up. There weren't many of them but the ones we had were the greatest. At least as far as I recall.

The best one was a trip we took to southern Ontario one summer to see my Great-Grandparents for their 60th wedding anniversary in Clinton Ontario. We left on the last day of school when I was in the tenth grade (nothing like jumping straight into summer holidays). On the way to Clinton we traveled through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario. Aside from the family reunion type stuff we also toured around southern Ontario quite a bit. We went swimming in Lake Huron. We went to Niagara Falls. We went to London and Stratford. We saw where my mom lived for a while as a kid and we saw a lot of my Grandpa's personal landmarks in the area. On the way back home we took a ferry across Georgian Bay to Manitoulin Island and drove via North Ontario back into Manitoba. We were gone for a good two weeks. We saw a lot of cool places and it was all new, at least new to me. Although I can't recall a lot of the details it still stands out as my most memorable family trip.

Now I have the yearning for a trip of this magnitude for my family. Maybe one day when the kids are older we can embark on a long distance adventure and create some life long travel memories.

My fantasy involves a happy family creating fond memories of tooling around, staying in motels and seeing America. Enjoying every stop along the way and reveling in each others company. What could be better than that? That's the stuff that family memories are made of.

Unfortunately the reality would also include sitting in a hot vehicle with bickering kids for hours on end, day after day, listening to, "Are we there yet?" or, "Why do we have to go there?", times three. Forcing the kids to endure stupid, boring tourist stuff and generally making sure they have no fun. Jules and I would have to resist the urge to sneak off early in the morning and leave the kids to be raise by the motel folk. If they were lucky we might pick them up on the way back. (On second thought maybe we should wait until the kids move away)

The fantasy and the reality somehow manage to coexist in the traditional family vacation. In the end the bad parts are usually forgotten over time leaving only the good memories to make a lasting impression. Nobody says, "remember how bored I was at Niagara Falls? I must have complained about how boring it was for the entire drive there and back." No they say, "I remember going to Niagara Falls. That was a great time."(Maybe that's why I don't remember too many details of our trip to Ontario).

Meanwhile the map hangs on my office wall with its limitless possibilities. Unfortunately, due to the prices of gas and the current ages of the kids these possibilities become seriously limited. So this year rather than crossing half a continent, our big road trip will likely be a trip to Minot, North Dakota about 3 hours from here. It might not be the greatest odyssey in history but it's a start.

No comments: