Are we there yet?
I relived a childhood experience last weekend. I traveled miles and miles in a car…without driving.
I also got the chance to talk to adults…without being interrupted by a child! Wow! Hours and hours to look out the window, talk to three other adults, or just think. Throw in sight-seeing, eating, walking the beach, birding, and photography and it was the perfect weekend getaway.
I can’t travel very far in a vehicle without dredging up childhood memories and making comparisons. We joked about wanting a DVD player in the backseat, but we all know those are almost standard equipment in vehicles that routinely convey children. When I was a kid we played games, talked, sang, searched the roadside for animals, and counted car models. We didn’t have air conditioning, usually stopped by the side of the road to eat a picnic lunch, and sometimes slept in the car for naps or part of the evening.
One notices certain consistencies after a few hundred miles of road travel. Most cars and trucks are white, silver, tan, or black. People routinely drive ten miles over any posted speed limit. People talk and text while driving, regardless of traffic conditions or laws. Any city with over 50,000 people has road construction somewhere within the city limits. Any shopping mall in any city is essentially a clone of the one in the next town. Walmart is a beacon of familiarity no matter where you are in the country. Americans are addicted to McDonald’s food. People love eating, shopping, and sports.
Yes, if you travel very far it is easy to see that despite differences in regions and cultures we are a nation that lives within certain parameters. I base that on observations gleaned during my travels in many, many states over many, many years- not just this weekend’s adventure. We seem to have a basic list of preferred foods, hotels, stores, and sports. Add to those the basic services needed by humans, and you can create an ideal town anywhere! Thank goodness nature provides some interesting changes in environment and weather or we would bore ourselves to death.
Whenever I travel through areas like south or west Texas I always wonder why someone long, long ago stopped in the middle of that vast nowhere and said, “I think I’ll stay here.” Good grief, why??????? I suppose many early settlers had land grants or were from similar environments or were just desperate to own some land, but still…
We are fat!! You cannot go anywhere these days without realizing that as a nation we have expanded in ways our ancestors would find appalling. Fast food, huge portions, and excessive snacking are the norm. Look around in any restaurant or hamburger joint and it’s easy to see that we love our greasy, salty food and we are consuming it with abandon. I predict that in the near future many restaurants will increase the size of their chairs to accommodate our bigger butts!
People are basically kind and caring. As news of the Moore tragedy filled the screens at the restaurant where we were having dinner I could hear bits and pieces of conversations. People stopped eating and stared at the televisions. Disbelief registered on the faces I could see and for a moment I knew that we were united in sympathy and concern. The actions of people all over the country this week have reinforced my faith in humanity. We can put aside our differences and act like a nation when necessary.
Kids are kids. I love to observe them when I don’t have to take any responsibility for them. Watching them do predictable things at stores, restaurants, the hotel, the beach, etc. was fun. Listening to them interact with their parents reminded me that it doesn’t matter where you live- kids can drive you crazy!
I hope your summer travels are enjoyable!