Road Trip

One of my fondest childhood memories is Sunday drives. My parents had a Buick convertible. It was one of those big old cars built like a tank. By that I mean it was solid and had lots of room. That was a good thing because even though not all my siblings had been born yet, we had a sizable family of five children and two adults.

We would rush home from church on Sunday to have a marvelous Sunday dinner. My mother was a wonderful cook, even if she did like pork roast or fried chicken more than I did at the time.

Then after dinner my father would finally say we could go for a ride. If the weather was nice the top of the convertible would come down.

We lived in a very small town. Everybody knew everybody. Our Sunday drives were so much fun that as many of the other kids in town who could get away from their families for a few hours would race to our house after they had Sunday dinner. Daddy took as many of them as he could.

So off we would go. As I look back it seems to me that we must have looked like those old cartoons where the vehicle would be so full that people would be spilling over the edges and sometimes falling off, only to run and be pulled back in. We never dropped a child though.

My father would take a new route every time. We would ride through the country using old rural roads. All along the way my parents would point to things of interest like a squirrel jumping from tree to tree or a cow staring at us while chewing her cud.

Some of the roads were lined with trees and could be so cool on a hot summer day. Some wound through farmlands and we saw all the farm animals and the crops in varying stages of growth. Perhaps we would drive by a small roadside stream that would gurgle along in the ditch. Maybe we would see an especially striking scene, one of those that takes your breath away.

We never got out of the car... packing us back in would have been too difficult. Sometimes we would pull to the side of the road if we saw something that we wanted to look at for a longer while but mostly we just drove.

Those Sunday drives meant so much to all of us. We were together, enjoying each other. We learned about the joy of observing nature, although the occasional skunk smell was not pleasant. We learned to share the joy with our friends.

You would think that a car full of that many children would be noisy and that there would be a lot of horseplay. Not the case. Everyone was looking for the next interesting sight. Scarecrows, weather vanes, buildings, and unusually shaped trees. It was all part of the experience.

I realize that gasoline costs more now than it did then but my father made a lot less money than people do now. A few dollars was a small price to pay for the joy and closeness we had as a family.

This is an activity you can do any time with your family. Winter, spring, summer, and fall all have sights to offer. Tracks in the snow on the road, flowers coming alive by the side of the road, crops growing and ready for harvest, and the colors of the leaves as the trees prepare for winter. You might get lucky and a spot wild animal.

Do you live in the city with no country roads nearby? There are parks and preserves in every city. A car is not necessary. Take a Sunday walk. You can experience the same things. Even a walk around your neighborhood yields sights, sounds, and smells to share with your family.

After enjoying all the things of nature with the children, you will go back home. The children will be both exhilarated and relaxed. Little ones will go to sleep. Older ones will either rest or find something to do elsewhere. Everyone is content and quiet.