In our large family, we (well maybe JUST ME) enjoy taking family road trips. Whether it be a family wedding in another city, or a vacation at a cottage style resort, we load up the car with snacks and belongings and head out.
Now that our children are all adults, sometimes we have scheduling issues where one or two cannot arrive at the same time – or perhaps our other family members (Grandma, or perhaps a significant other) may be along for the ride. As we are now (pre-pandemic) mostly empty nesters, we no longer have to have a minivan. Therefore, sometimes 2 carloads may venture out.
A long car ride seems like a good idea – but during the hours of driving – personality traits and minor conflicts may begin to grow (out of control).
During my childhood our family traveled (four hours each way) each summer weekend in an old air conditioning free station wagon to our family cottage in the Kawartha lake region of Ontario. I remember being carsick each and every time we went, and my brother punching me in the shoulder in the backseat whenever I least expected it. I wonder why we bothered with these trips – but now I’m the person in my own family that most loves the drive!
For some reason as soon as I began travelling on my own as an adult I no longer experienced car sickness – and thank goodness my kids never figured out how to do the shoulder punch. I never told them about this, because if I had they would have started.
During my first road trip with my husband we traveled by car to Myrtle Beach (a 14 hour drive) – This is when we discovered the differences in our travelling styles. My husband loves to travel from A to B – enjoying the destination. During our trip, at one point I had us drive north instead of south for about 2 hours – requiring us to revisit the same scenery after turning around for a now silent 2 hours. The thing is – I enjoyed seeing the scenery the second time.
Personally, I enjoy stopping at roadside stands, junk stores and the best of all – those large roadside attractions – The Big Nickel, A Giant Apple, A Dinosaur – anything like that – even if they have no meaning or are out of context – is worth a photo-stop. I try to avoid fast food stops – but coffee and bathroom stops are OK. I do occasionally fill the gas tank – but not as often as required.
My husband stops less often at silly things, but will always spoil everyone with treats – and definitely fills the gas tank ahead of schedule. Somewhere along the way of life we began referring to our two car adventures as “the fun car” and “the other car”. We affectionately argue about who is driving which. Sometimes we break up conflicting personalities – once rebellious teenagers during the mood swing phase or the back seat driver grandma
Last evening we had another 2 car road trip to Northern Ontario. My husband took one carload earlier in the day, and enjoyed some guy-time on the fishing boat. I headed out after dinner – after a day of running errands, packing the car and generally dilly-dallying until our youngest arrived home from work. He was no longer able to join us, so I headed out on my own. The drive was uneventful, until about 100kms from my destination, when I realized that there was only about 100km of gas in the tank.
I had just passed an exit with a brightly lit station – and imagined there would be another soon – or a sign pointing to one. There was not. Being on my own – and it being quite dark – I didn’t want to pull off and turn on my phone to search for a gas station. I continued driving for another 50km, when my husband called.
He was worried, but talked me through the next 50km. He pointed out that there were no more stations off the highway – and that they wouldn’t be open at this time of night. He drove out from the cottage and met me at the first gas station along the way (closed of course). He led my car safely to the cottage resort, and it sits there still waiting to be filled.
I believe that I’ve learned a lesson after all these years to fill the tank before getting into unfamiliar territory (and at night) – but have I? My husband was not surprised at the error of my ways, but was once again there for me. This may be another example of an old dog not learning new tricks – but I’m very fortunate that opposites attract when it comes to travel and other things in life.
I still believe that I drive the “Fun Car”, but it could have been a lot less fun on a dark highway with no gas late at night. Maybe it was bad planning – or maybe it was really precisely perfect planning, having exactly the correct amount of gas to get me to my destination without a drop to spare.
Anyway, my wineglass is half full now, and the resorts of most of Ontario’s cottage country are open for business. Restaurants are patio ready, the sun is shining and the fish are biting. The cross-border American visitors are unfortunately not yet able to visit Ontario, and so there are more vacancies than usual. It’s a great time to take a vacation within our own Province – but we are still physically distancing, wearing masks, and hand sanitizing everywhere. The fish don’t care about that.
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