Griswold Roadtrip…Jones Style!

1968 Rebel 770 station wagon by American Motor...

Dear Aimee,

Do you have any ideas for great family summer fun? I always want to make plans, but before I know it the summer is over and we still haven’t done anything exciting.

Bummer Summer – Elk City, Oklahoma

How about taking the old family roadster for a 3,000 mile cross-country trip? That’s exactly what I am doing as I am writing to you. Pray for us. When I was a kid, this was our summer tradition. One night in May, Dad would set us down and reveal the much-anticipated family vacation destination. Then for the next couple of months, we would plan, thumb through the Mobile Travel Guide, trace our route on the atlas, and dream about our upcoming trip. My brother, sister, and I would actually sleep in the van the night before we left because it made vacation start one night sooner. We always got a new toy or book to enjoy on the ride, and Ritz crackers with a can of squeeze cheese was always tucked into the back of the seat. Sure there were hours of endless highway, but we made up games, told stories, and somehow found plenty of things to do despite the absence of DVD players, iPhones, and XM radio. Everyone just enjoyed being away from the daily grind. Dad was off-work, Mom was off her diet, and we got to eat out almost every meal. It was heaven. So when the weather starts to heat up and the end of the school year is near, the MapQuest website starts calling my name. This summer we’re making the trek to take the little princess to Disney World, and taking the scenic route, the 3000 mile round trip scenic route. I won’t sugar coat the experience and tell you that we have sung camp songs and eaten ice cream 24/7. You stick a family of six in a 10×5 space for forty-six hours, and you’re bound to have some squabbles, enforced moments of silence, established anti-touching rules, and some colorful language used now and then. However, what you also get are fits of laughter, surprising moments of sibling cooperation, unexpected talks about life with your teen, and moments of oohs and ahhs when your kids realize that the places in their history books actually do exist. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t always drive. I love jumping on a plane and reaching my destination in a matter of hours, but the time we have had within the confines of the family roadster have no equal. It’s time that plucks my heartstrings and binds us together even closer as a family and yes, at times closer than we really care to be. My offering is to clear the calendar, fill up the tank, check the oil, download an itinerary, and rediscover the great American road trip. Remember, you do have to return with every family member you leave home with, and strapping anyone to the top of the car is considered cheating and illegal in most states. Have fun and safe travels!

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