Over the years, my parents owned the requisite family haulers like a baby-blue-with-wood-trim station wagon and navy blue Chevy van. It was always a GM vehicle; even today, my dad drives a red 2009 Chevrolet HHR SS (that he absolutely loves) and my mom has a 2014 Buick LaCrosse. They also share a Buick Envision that they shuttle to my sister’s in Ohio and down to Florida for the winter.
Those early GM cars took us from Indiana to New Jersey in the summer to visit my aunts, uncles, and cousins. And every December, we’d fly or drive to Florida to stay with my grandmother for a couple of weeks over Christmas break.
These journeys held so many great memories for me, so I wondered: what are your favorite family road trip stories?
Over the last several years, my own nuclear family has adopted the epic road trip habit. This past summer, my son and I took a Nissan Rogue from Texas to Indiana on a two-day excursion during which we sang along to music from the ’50s to today, laughed our heads off, and tackled some heavy conversations that are easier to have when you’re not staring each other in the eyes. In July of 2020, we quarantined for two weeks and piloted a Chrysler Pacifica up north.
This is the reality for many families who live far away from their loved ones, and cars bring us closer. Over Thanksgiving dinner this week, my father-in-law was remembering a man he knew many years ago who used to drive up to Texas from Peru in South America to work for several months to support his family. That’s nearly 3500 miles one way (!!). He probably didn’t even have cruise control back then.
Yes, I remember squabbling with my sister in the car, tired and cranky. I recall homemade sandwiches and seeing the oasis of a breakfast buffet from the back of the vehicle. And lots and lots of road trip music. To this day, certain songs remind me of being on the highway with my family, watching the scenery fly by: “Sister Golden Hair” by America, “Take It Easy” by the Eagles, and the entire Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell album. On the drive home to Austin from San Angelo yesterday, we kicked off the holiday music season and belted out “Jingle Bells” (which my son calls “an oldie but goldie”).
‘Tis the season, and I want to hear all about your favorite memories from trips from your childhood or even one you took this week. Here’s hoping you didn’t have any harrowing escapades like the Griswolds from the Vacation movies.
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