No, we did not have a van, we were four people crammed into a 5 passanger car, sometimes 7 people crammed into the car if we met up with someone like my grandparents and I had to ride in the trunk, ok, well the hatch back or up on the shelf back window. We would drive for time and distance. Every time we stopped Dad would say "We are makin good time". I always wondered as opposed to what the other drivers who are not going where we are.
The trips always started in our house at like 3 am, on the road by 4 at the latest. Therewas endless singing of songs either by my parents or my sister and I, each being horrified by harmonizing of the other, then there I was getting the words wrong just to bug my sister. The constant look out the window, if you are bored there is so much to see, you know boring people get bored, there is away something to do, of course shortly followed by "Stop kicking my seat".
This was the days before cell phones, and everyone had some sort of scream in front of them at all times. Man, How did we make it? We as a family several times a year would drive down south at least once, usually twice, we made it to my grandmother's house one time in Arkansas in around 11 hours, when the fastest time before that was 13 hours. But this was after the fuzz buster (police radar detector) made it into our lives and we would race random people on the Highway at night with my sister or I running interference for my dad with the garage opener. See, the first ones you could fool the other driver into slowing down by pressing the garage door opener really fast making the other person think a Police officer was near.
I really liked those times, for a house that hardly ever got junk food it was heaven, dry cold pop tarts for breakfast, chips to snack on and soggy lunch snadwiches from the cooler filled with mostly water. There the moments striking lack of parenting like when because Mom and Dad would not pay 3 dollars a piece for 2 cotton in the shell in a bag they made us steal it from a field. They didn't even get out to help us, they sent 2 fairly young girls out into a feild in Louisiana to steal it and put it in the sandwich bag from our soggy lunch sandwiches.
I remember vividly shopping in flea markets and getting the super cool Don Johnson coat with the big fruit all over it that no one at school would have, not because it was hidiously ugly as you would assume (it was by the way) ,but because it was from New Orleans. The random back hills hillbilly stalking your family in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, podunk after staring at your licence plate for a good 10 minutes while you ate dinner and watched him silent fear.
ya know getting the flavor of the place experiencing culture, or lack of.
I do not know that this post is anything more than a tribute to the family car trip on the open road but there is so much more with that than just hitting the airport and taking off. there just seemed to be more time to just be thinking in those days. I am a fan of the airport and take off, get there enjoy were you wanted to go longer and in 4 hours as opposed to 2 days. but there is a love and romance for me in the ride there in the dirtiest backwoods bathroom to the really cool little place you find in the middle of nowhere on the way, that makes the trip. Most of my memories of the trips and fun of it were the times we were filling time in the car. I think it was the first time as a kid I was forced to get to know my parents as people. The most interesting things happened there, the love of getting there taking the time for the unexpected detoures and twists and adventure of it all make the trip.