How to Ruin a Family Road Trip

road trip

The real definition of road trip? An intentional lengthening of vacation’s worst part. It doesn’t make sense. Faster transportation is available.

Group-buy, limited-time, the-last-cruise-ship-sank-type deals make the savings insignificant. Yet, people embark on road trips every day.

I will refer to these people as insane, but I mean it in the most reasonable sense. They are passive-aggressive thrill seekers, betting on extra hours at 60 mph to bring adventure. Flying is guaranteed arrival and planes travel 565 mph. By my calculations, driving is about… slower.

And slower means increased chances of something going wrong. A thing that goes wrong is fun and spontaneous. And crazy.

I was crazy once. Or at least my family was crazy and road tripped to a national park, camp trailer in tow. On our way home, we stopped at a petrified forest. For fun.

As a kid, when you hear “forest”, the last thing you think of is rocks in the dirt. A few were interesting, but dad definitely talked the place up. On the way out, a glimmer of red caught my eye and I bent to pick up the only fantastic piece of petrified wood in the “forest”. Into my pocket it went.

Notices posted at the exit admonished people to un-steal any petrified wood; “Some say the wood is haunted and removing a piece brings the taker nothing but bad luck”. There were even apologetic letters to prove it.

Well, “some” also say park rangers are greedy rock-hoarders. The rock stayed in my pocket.

And not 5 miles from the park, our camper’s tire exploded. That happens.

20 miles later, our car got a flat. Coincidence.

10 miles after that, the spare tire died. Surely we are following a nail truck.

Our caravan limped to the nearest service station. In the long process of getting out of the car, my brother slammed his fingers in the door while being stung by a kamikaze bee. We also discovered the service station water hose didn’t work, which wasn’t a big deal… until I stepped in our dog’s poo. Both shoes.

In light of all the fun we were having, my dad, bewildered, asked a question:

“Did anyone take the wood?”

And now, somewhere in a field next to a service station lies a stolen relocated piece of petrified forest.

Let my shoes, dangling from the trailer hitch as smelly, crusted road trip war trophies, be a lesson to all you crazy people.

(photo courtesy of Remik44992/