192. How Many More Roads?

“How many more roads?” is a question many parents have heard. If you’re on US 1, the answer can be misleading. What the impatient child really wants to know is how much more time will pass before you all get where you’re going, but seconds, minutes, and hours are not concrete enough; roads are (sometimes literally). Sitting in the back seat of a car for a long time, no matter how well you plan, is not easy.
I’ll bet some of you are hoping I’ll have some helpful hints on this subject. Sorry. No hints. When my daughters were young children, we did the same things you probably did, do, or will do. We brought games along, told stories, sang songs, and hoped they would find ways to amuse themselves and maybe – just maybe – fall asleep.
When we came to a place that had bathrooms, we stopped, and hoped that’s when they would decide that they needed to use the bathroom. We bought junk food at fast food restaurants, because that’s the kind of food you could buy on the highways that got you where you were going in a reasonable amount of time. Besides, when they were little, I hadn’t yet discovered health food.
I remember sitting in the back seat during long trips when I was a child. I don’t remember complaining about how boring it was, but I’ll bet my parents remember. What I remember were Burma Shave signs. I thought it was so neat that they put funny little rhymes along the road – one line on each little red sign for about a quarter of a mile: “Statistics prove….near and far….that folks who drive….like crazy are….Burma Shave.” And I remember trying to find license plates from all fifty states. We were so excited when we finally found Hawaii.
It was fun to sleep in motels. Little cabins, or rows of tiny little rooms. I remember getting up before everyone else, and walking on the wet, dewy lawn near a motel. And then, when everyone else was awake, we had greasy breakfasts that I loved. The food probably didn’t taste any better than the food we had at home, but it seemed better because we were in some exotic place, like South Dakota, or Utah.
My family only went on a few long trips – maybe five in eighteen years. But I enjoy remembering those trips. It was time when all we could be was a family; there wasn’t anybody else around that we knew. I remember my sister Sue asking how many more roads, but I don’t remember asking.
Just a little bit of nostalgia. Maybe you never got to travel with your family. Maybe you did, but you went by plane. I don’t know why I told you all this. I guess I just thought you’d be interested.

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