A familiar Facebook game is to use a provided piece of art and “color” in all the states in which you have traveled.
I guess I’m a little more traveled than some – not as much as others. I quit counting at 40-some states, which is more of a product of a father who wanted to go camping any and everywhere and my wife, who was willing to move from newspaper job to newspaper job.
But my travel game is to count the number of states – and countries – in which things have happened, other than just driving through or stopping to see one tourist trap. After all, anyone can travel from state to state. But having things happen there which become of a part of the family folklore, handed down from generation to generation is something else.
I mean things of consequence, including:
• Number of states have you been broken down on the side of the highway? I’ve got 12 and I don’t count running out of gas. Heck, I’ve lost transmissions in three states alone.
• Number of states you have had an airline lose your luggage? I have been enormously lucky stateside – only three, but I can count two European encounters with the lost luggage maze.
• Number of states have you had your kid throw up in the backseat? (Bonus points here if dog does likewise in same state, different county.) Seems like I should be at least two dozen, however, this prompted an argument with my wife who claims we can’t count that time in Wyoming because the oldest kid had a touch of the flu anyway. Hey, if I’m moping the kids’ breakfast off the floor of the backseat, I don’t care why, it counts. Actually, I only score a six on this one.
• Number of states in which you have had soda dumped on you during your flight? I’m leading the Facebook world on this one. Easy as dumping soda on dad’s lap. Same kid. Four different states, three countries.
I spent most of our flight out of Charles DeGaulle Airport trying to get the Sprite out of my jeans and my shorts. God only knows how this kid grew up to travel throughout Africa and Southeast Asia without creating a major international incident by dumping a drink down some passenger’s lap.
• Number of states in which your young child has locked her/himself in the bathroom? I’ve only got three – but they were quite traumatic. Same kid as above. I blame her mother on this one – she potty-trained her, teach the kid how to operate the lock on the bathroom door for crying out loud. I get bonus points here for dismantling a hotel room door lock in Nebraska with only one screw driver and a screaming four-year-old on the other side of the door.
• How many states have you had your rain-proof tent flood? I can claim four states and for some reason I feel lucky. However, I again earn bonus points for surviving the flood of Traverse City, Michigan, camp site No. 24, in 1992. I knew I was in trouble when I woke up and saw my daughter float past me on her air mattress.
• Number of states you have driven through while your spouse is so angry she gives you the silent treatment? Just one, fortunately. I had no idea southeast Arkansas could be so cold in June.
• Number of states in which you/spouse told children, “If I have to stop this car!” Zero for me. I learned parenting from my father and his Rule No. 1 was that if you break any of the other rules, there was no warning. No early detection system. No shouting or threatening. Only swift justice. It was easy for me, we had a large Dodge Caravan and only two kids. My dad had four children piled into a Rambler station wagon. During our 1964 trip from Oklahoma to New York, dad recorded more hits than Dal Manville (Cardinals backup shortstop) had that entire summer.
What were your greatest “hits” in the world of travel?
Perhaps the best part about family get-togethers – especially Thanksgiving – is that these stories are told and re-told over the years. We don’t really collect states as much as we make memories, whether they are watching a child see a bison stop traffic for the first time at Yellowstone National Park, or shuffling up the cards for another game of Crazy 8 while waiting on the tow truck.