A lot of my life has been spent in a vehicle. Between hour long bus rides to school, driving all the way to Florida and back for a vacation, I know what it’s like to be stuck in a seat for way too long.
The most consistent time spent in a car, though, has probably been spent driving to and from my grandmother’s house. On average, I spend 96 hours a year in a car headed to Delaware. That’s a whopping 1,536 hours total for my life – and that’s not counting how often we went back to see her once we first moved to Pittsburgh, or trips to visit others in that area that were not my grandparents. So my parents were no stranger to finding ways to keep my sister and I entertained for six hours in one sitting.
The first way that comes to mind is window clings. My mom owed minivan after minivan for a very long time, and her last two had bucket seats in the middle row, so Annie and I each got our own window. We’d get window clings as gifts from our grandparents before we left for back home; the set I can remember most vividly was in ice cream set. There were cones, a dozen colors of ice cream, and toppings; Annie and I made ice cream treats that towered to the top of our windows. We’d pretend to open an ice cream shop and serve each other window cling ice cream.
Another was our sketch pads. We’d draw for hours quietly. One year we didn’t have window clings (they all got lost,) and so we drew notes for passing cars on our sketch pads, dabbed a little water from our water bottles onto the edges of the paper, and stuck them to our windows for the passing cars to admire.
We also had individual CD players, since it was before the age if iPods. We got them and sets of headphones for Christmas one year. Before each trip, we were allowed to go through my dad’s extensive CD library and pick out some favorites. Even back then, I was the one who wanted to listen to Martina McBride’s Christmas album in the middle of June; I can still see the jewel case art in my mind. We also fought over a Disney Classic CD, which had a bunch of music from the Disney movies on it. Eventually it got so bad that my parents got us a splitter, which was a really nifty device. You’d plug it into the headphone jack, and then plug up to three pairs of headphones into the little doodads that branched off from the headphone jack.
Eventually, my dad cracked and let us get a gameboy. We were only allowed to play it on car trips, and we had to switch off every half hour, and there came a point where my dad told us “no more game boy this trip, rest your eyes.” To top it off, this was the era before backlit hand held gaming, so if we were playing at night, we had to use an abysmally dim overhead light to try and see.
Around that time I started getting really, really good books for Christmas, as well as Borders gift cards. I got myself a two-headed book light and read almost the entire trip sometimes. My all-time favorites to bring on any car trip, regardless of how may times I’d read the books, were The Palace of Laughter and The Tale of Desperaux. (Which was a challenging read, for sure, there was a surprising amount of French in it for a grade school level book.)
Once I was in 7th grade and Annie was in 6th, we got laptops from our cyber school to do school work on, but they also served as our recreational devices. I’d ask to take mine with me in order to write, and the answer was sometimes yes. I’d end up playing pinball half the time, but it was still a nice way to pass the time. When it got too dark, I’d have to shut it off, because the light of my screen would cause a glare on the windshield.
We also would tell stories to each other; we had several games that revolved around stories. Our personal favorite was the one word story game, where we’d each say one word at a time to make a story. Most of the time, they made no sense, and were about Elizabeth the Screaming Pickle or Tomathy the Possessed Toilet. She and I will still, to this day, text each other about those stories.
Anymore, whenever we go back home, I’ll bring my spiffy new 3DS (my dad finally lets my sister and I buy whatever game systems we pleased as long as it’s with our own money,) a blanket, and some music. I haven’t taken a trip with Annie in some time; she and I have lived apart for almost three years now. Of course, now that my mom has moved out to Philly, she’ll be relying on my dad to get her a ride to Delaware for Christmas and Thanksgiving, so I’m very excited to take more car trips with her.
Especially if it involves Eliza or Tomathy again.