Our family has been going on road trips for as long as I can remember. Every summer a new destination is set – an airplane is rendered unnecessary. Highway 89 and late night stops at Country Inn’s became habit. While driving may seem like a hassle, I have come to appreciate the genuine bonding time that slowly comes with it. Four people in a car, multiple sets of luggage, and a never-ending supply of pretzel rods (an easy-to-eat-while-driving- road-trip-favorite) epitomize our summers.
Two years ago we made our first trip to Washington D.C. I had always been fascinated by the founding of our country and recently that inkling of curiosity had grown into a full-blown-chicken-pox-like itch. On the departure date, we left the house later than planned (as per usual), but we slowly made our trek through Illinois, Indiana, and stopped for the night in Macedonia, Ohio. We stopped about two hours past the time my brother, mom, and myself pleaded my dad to stop driving. This is the usual pattern: we get tired; my mom suggests we stop at an exit 10 miles ahead, and my dad (the driver) insists we can make it further.
“The travel book seems to say that there aren’t any more hotels until an exit two hours ahead, and it’s already 10:30,” my mom will usually say.
“There will be other hotels!” my dad insists. Finally, two hours later, a hotel was found, the overnight bags were brought into the hotel, and the lights were quickly turned off. Sleep that night came quickly for me and my brother, my parents, however, were lighter sleepers and the sound of the highway kept them awake for a little bit. After years of experience, we have learned to avoid a hotel room on the side nearest the highway, near a vending machine, and/or the elevator. It doesn’t always work out.
The next morning we ate a quick breakfast and headed back to the car for day two. The second day is a little worse than the first because the anticipation has increased, but the destination is still hours away. The driving time is filled with some sleep, random car games (alphabet game, anyone?), and always laughter. My iPod and the books on CD (courtesy of our library) became my travel companions. Lunch typically consisted of peanut butter (brought in a jar from home), too much greasy food and a long, sometimes hilly, road trip DO NOT MIX. Believe me; I have learned this from experience. Eventually we work our way through rush hour and arrive at the Marriot Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. This hotel provided us with a gorgeous view of the national monument from outside the hotel coupled with a stunning aerial view from the top floor.
The next few days we took in as much of D.C as we possibly could. We had an early appointment to take a tour of the Capitol Building. The tour of the Capitol was my favorite part of the entire trip. We got to stand where the President makes the inauguration address, see where the State of the Union is made, and take the underground tunnel used by congressmen/women. We made stops at Mount Vernon, the Lincoln Memorial, and were lucky enough to get into the White House.
While an old fashioned road trip might seem simplistic, I truly believe our family has become closer because of it. Road trips give us stories to tell, places to share, and a lifetime of memories. It’s not always easy, but we always have an unforgettable time.
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