Road Trippin’ with Bozemama

April 05, 2013

Posted By: Bozemama

Ever blown down I-90 at 77 miles an hour while simultaneously re-wiring a DVD player and making a ham and cheese sandwich? I have. And, if you’ve ever taken a solo road trip lasting longer than six hours with one or more of your children, then so have you. You might pretend otherwise when in mixed company, but you’d be lying. Shhhh . . . that’s OK. It’ll be our little secret.

I mean maybe it wasn’t a DVD player or a ham and cheese; maybe it was breaking up a fistfight while peeing in a cup. Or re-fastening a seatbelt and hunting for the binky . . . On our most recent drive from Bozeman to Seattle over Spring Break last month, I found myself searching Pandora for a certain Eddie Vedder song while finessing the winding bridges arcing over the Columbia River. I know, I know: Probably a bad idea. (Ma, I can hear you. Stop squawking.)

My stepfather, who was a great lover of road trips and an esteemed automotive journalist, always maintained that it was mamas like me who should be sent into combat behind the steering wheels of those Abrams battle tanks. Any mom who can nurse a baby and apply lipstick while maneuvering an SUV could easily handle enemy fire in a Bradley fighting vehicle, right? (Sorry dads, but research shows that you mens aren’t nearly as deft as mamas at this thing they call multitasking.)

Think I’m boasting? Balking at my braggadocio? Well, go ahead. But if I know anything at all, I know road trips. As I mentioned earlier, my stepfather drove everywhere. He wrote about cars for a living and he loved having my mom and me along for the ride. “Let’s go have uh adventure . . .,” he would say with a slightly maniacal twinkle in his eye.

We drove all over the country– me in the back, nose stuck in some appalling book with the folks incessantly nagging, “Look out the window!! Fercryingoutloud! It’s Monument Valley! It’s the Mississippi! It’s the Golden Gate Bridge!” By the time I registered their barking, I had either missed the great wonder of the world that had them foaming at the mouth or had decided not to care. There was no end to their irritation. Rolling my eyes, I would like the nacho cheese off my fingertips and wonder what the big freaking deal was.

Well, guess what? Payback’s a bitch and now I do get what the big freaking deal, is and I often find myself in those exact driving moccasins with my own moppets. “Look!” I’ll shout into the resounding void of the minivan, “Guys! It’s the biggest cherry pie in the world!” Sometimes they look up; mostly they don’t. If she’s in an I’m-so-much-more-mature-than-my-little-brother mood, Hermione will occasionally deign to humor me; and, yes, her brother does enjoy scanning the horizon for pronghorns from time to time. Honestly, though, they could go hours without looking out the window. I mean, c’mon, they’ve got their Frappucinos, iPads, DVDs, weaving looms, hand paints and paninis back there. Please – it’s a sensorial smorgasbord on wheels. No tattered Judy Blume and Doritos for this generation.

I consider myself lucky that Charlie and Hermione share my enthusiasm for the open road. When we lived back East, we spent a week in Cape Cod every summer (along with nearly every other family in New England) and, in order to avoid traffic and get to our rental house early Sunday, we would begin our drive late Saturday night. Bundled up in their jammies with pillows and popcorn, my wee bairn would wait for hours in the car as we packed up; they were strapped in and ready for adventure. For them, this was the highlight of the summer. And last year when we drove to Cody, we stayed in the car a half hour after arriving at our hotel because we couldn’t bear to turn off the Deathly Hallows CD. (Note to any and all parents with a long drive ahead this summer: The Harry Potter audio books are insanely addictive thanks to the brilliant narration by Jim Dale.) We have had some of our best moments as a family out on the open road, singing, connecting and sharing new experiences together.

Because, see, here’s the best thing about the modern road trip: It’s like a pizza – you can make it as spicy, elegant, trashy or messy as you and your family decide. You can go high-tech with the iPod and the DVD player or low-tech with car bingo and ISpy. You can take the highway and eat Bugles or take the scenic route and stop for homemade pie at the mom-and-pop diners along the road. You are in the driver’s seat and the only rules are to have fun and wear your seatbelt (unless, of course, you are changing into your swimsuit).

Kisses and see you on the road


More from Montana Parent

Thank You to Our Sponsors