I try to keep things real with my kids.
I want them to see the country. The real country. Not the amusement parks, water parks, and tourist traps. I mean, we've done that. I want them to see the beauty. The awesomeness. The good stuff.
I'd rather not drive to get there, though.
To some, it's no big deal. Gas up the car, throw the kids in there with some snacks and a portable DVD player and go. Others even go so far to leave at night, hoping their kids will sleep through the journey (and that someone will take over for them upon their arrival).
I remember driving on what seemed like interminable road trips when I was young. I never expected it to be any other way, but oh, how I dreaded it. Hours and hours of fighting for the best seat in the station wagon. Sometimes that was the "wayback" seat, where you sat facing backwards and breathed in those awesome fuel fumes. Or if there was too much luggage, we vied for the window seat, but being the third of four kids, I usually got the middle anyway.
I remember bologna sandwiches out of a cooler, and puking up peach-flavored Hi-C because my stomach just couldn't take it. I remember feeling completely helpless as the highway stretched before us and the minutes dragged on. Reading made me carsick, so there was not much else for me to do but daydream and pray for sleep to come.
So, you can imagine my apprehension as I get ready to pack my two boys and my minivan for a trek out to South Dakota here soon. Things have changed since I was a kid. I doubt they'll want to play Auto Bingo or the license plate game. They've packed the laptop for watching movies, their ipods, cell phones and Nintendo DS's. We have home-made snacks, clear Kool-Aid (thank you, Kool-Aid gods) and enough Twizzlers to feed an army. The GPS voice has been selected ("Ken", our Australian guide), which will hopefully fend off all those "Are we there yet?" questions.
I've mapped out our journey, looking up pit stops along the way. My goal is to make getting there a part of the fun. I don't know if this is possible, but I'm sure going to try. Once you hit Iowa, it doesn't look like there's much between there and South Dakota. And this will be the first time I've been in charge of the driving, which is a little daunting, to say the least.
I want to do this, I really do. I think it's important for them to see the beauty of this part of the country - and I want to see it, too - the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, the Black Hills, Crazy Horse, (yeah, we'll do Wall Drug and the Corn Palace, too).
So wish me luck. I'm sure I'll have stories to tell - both good and bad - upon my return. But if I can just get there and back with the same two kids and the same minivan and a few hundred memories, I'll consider the trip a success.