Friday, July 11, 2008

The Open Road

My family never played "Slug Bug" or "Punch Buggy"... we played "I Spy." "I Spy" was a bit tamer than those other games as there was no punching involved. The normal rules of the game were that you said "I spy" for every "bug" you saw. You don't see the old VW Beetles much anymore, but when I was a kid they were still pretty common.

We changed the game up a bit sometimes to include more types of vehicles than just bugs. Quite often we would add Jeeps. I ruled at spotting Jeeps. I thought they were pretty distinctive but Corinne and Annie never quite got it. They'd always spy Suzuki's or other random SUVs. When we were doing a lot of freeway driving we'd also add semi trucks. It couldn't just be a big truck, it had to be an actual 18 wheeler semi truck. Those were a little harder to tell apart from the smaller trucks at a distance. The rule was that if you spied something that wasn't a bug, Jeep, or semi, you got docked a point. The good news was that in our neighborhood there were a few known bugs and Jeeps so those were freebies to whoever could yell out "I spy!" the fastest.

My family went on a lot of short road trips so we had plenty of time to be bored. Half the time the boredom would start while we were waiting out in the car in the garage for mom to find her keys, glasses, and/or purse. We'd take turns sitting in the driver's seat pretending to drive and start out with the line "Ok, tell me when I'm gonna crash!" We'd move the steering wheel back and forth while someone yelled, "Look out for that tree!" or "Watch out for that wall!" It was amazing how many trees and garage walls we almost hit.

Just after Corinne got engaged, Annie and I went on a road trip with my parents to Oregon. It seemed like we were in the car the entire time winding through thick forested mountains. We got so bored on that trip that we made a travel video using a gummi lifesaver as the talking tour guide... it was pretty sad.

Annie's favorite road trip game was to see if she could visit every single restroom along the trip route. If she ever missed one, my mom would take up the slack. I'm sure road trips were one of those times when my dad had really wished for a car full of boys. At least that way he wouldn't have had to find a restroom every ten miles. Just let a boy out to pee on the tire and you're on your way.

My family has always been big on trivia games and this was no different in the car. We had a set of brain teaser question cards that my mom would read to us to see how smart we were. My dad also had a set of brain teaser questions, but he just pulled them out of his head. His questions usually went like this... "Hey you birds, what is that building over there?" "The power company!" "A storage unit!" "I don't know..." we'd say. "Come on you guys! Use your deductive reasoning! We're out in the desert and there's sage brush over by that barbed wire fence. That clearly means that that building is an airplane hangar for WWII replica planes." How he knew what all of these things were was a mystery. He was always surprised to find that none of us ever knew the answer to these questions. Sometimes we'd get a little more creative and give more obscure answers. "Hey you kids, what's that smokey stuff coming out of those big chimneys?" he would ask. "Coal smoke from the mine!" "Mustard gas chemicals seeping from a storage tank!" "Somebody making a campfire!" we'd guess. "No! Come on! You can clearly tell from the way it's rising and from the white color that it's steam!" "Oh."

I don't think we ever knew the answer to any of Dad's questions. We preferred to stick with Mom's question cards that asked things like, "What was the name of the third President of the United States?" or "What is the speed of light"... you know, things we actually had a chance of guessing right.


heidi said...

I have to admit to a yearning to see your travel video with the gummi lifesaver tour guide. :) (Seriously! I hope you still have it.)