There is a certain procedure that has to be followed on a road trip.
My family recently took such a trip to Denver to visit my daughter and her family. We’ve done this a few times and by now we have the drill down.
First of all, the directions are easy. Drive south, hit I-70, turn right and go about 1,200 miles. Presto! We’re there.
We’ve done the trip in one day before, but we have long since decided that breaking it into two days is a much better concept. First day to Topeka, second day to Denver.
This time around, my wife already had flown to Denver. That left the trip up to my two sons and me.
The first project was the snacks. It’s a Lindeman tradition that long road trips must include large quantities of junk food. I think this started when my children were younger and food was a good way to keep a civil war from breaking out in the back seat. Anyway, with the matriarch of the family already in Denver, it fell to my youngest son to load up on food for the trip.
Two coolers full of healthy American cuisine, including: Pretzels with peanut butter filling, peanut butter and cheese crackers, gummy bears (don’t ask), Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, iced tea, Cheese Nips, M&Ms (plain, peanut and peanut butter) and the three items required for any road trip — Junior Mints, Swedish fish and Mike and Ikes. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, there also was water, apples and blueberries just in case someone had an unaccountable urge for real food.
My youngest son goes down the list for my oldest son, who after hearing about all the food says, “What, no chips?” So at our first stop we have to add chips and chewing gum. I do not allow Doritos, however. They have been illegal in any car I own ever since a Boy Scout trip many years ago when it took me months to get the smell of Doritos combined with the smell of a gang of young boys out of my car. I drove with the windows open for a year.
Once all our stuff was loaded, and my oldest son put in his golf clubs, and we packed the van full of items I had to take because the trip included a convention I was attending for work, we discovered things were getting a little crowded. We had to make some space for CDs to listen to and a few books to read. That left precious little space for clothes, but who needs a lot of things to wear? Well, my wife would, but she already was there so it was no problem. We pulled out of Troy and headed west.
Here’s the thing about driving on I-70 west: it’s pretty easy except for when you hit construction, which is like the entire state of Illinois. The trick is to hit the big cities — Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City — at the right time. It really doesn’t matter too much what time you hit Denver because about a zillion people are moving there and it only has a couple roads that can handle any traffic.
There is a feeling among most travelers that driving across Kansas is a real drag. It’s really not as bad as most people say, mainly because there is hardly any traffic. There’s hardly any scenery, either, but being from Ohio I hardly think I have a right to complain. Besides, there are lots of cool wind turbines to look at. One more thing: Kansas is way better than eastern Colorado, which is really ugly.
That all changes when you get to Denver. Mountains! Not something you see every day, or ever, in Ohio.
We have a great week in Denver but before you know it, it’s time to go home. We have a problem – oops, that’s probably not the right word to use. We have a challenge, because my wife is riding back with us as is a bunch of extra stuff I picked up at the convention. We partially solve this by sending back some luggage on a plane with our friends from work who also were at the convention. Then we just cram everything into the back of the van – after reloading our snacks, of course.
The drive home is fairly uneventful. We stop in Columbia, Mo., this time – it’s always best to get more than half of the trip out of the way on the first day. In fact, we cross five states over and five states back and only run into problems in Ohio, where a trucker for some inexplicable reason decides to jump into the lane next to him, which is already occupied by us. My youngest son is driving at the time. He is amped up on Swedish fish and other healthy food options, and hence has lighting fast sugar-induced reflexes. He adroitly dodges the truck and averts disaster.
Whew! We make it home – only to find a pile of work waiting, weeds in the flower beds, grass that apparently is growing an inch an hour even though someone mowed it for us while we were gone and a missing tree in the front yard.
It’s enough to make someone want to go on a road trip …