I would pause as I closed my eyes and in my mind I was shuffling through a dusty old attic looking for a pretty little box I had lovingly stored away many years ago.
After some searching, I find what I was looking for - a little box dusty and yellowed with age, but I can still make out the childish scrawl of the label - Childhood Road Trips.
I reach in and pull out a postcard, it is just one among many in there. And as I gaze at it my eyes begin to mist over with nostalgia. A gentle breeze blows through carrying the sweet sounds of laughing children and it reminds me of my own brother and I as we giggled our way through the hours of our journey, safely buckled into the back seat of my parents car.
Oh Crap who am I kidding!
The cyclonic wind is whipping that damn dust into a frenzy and as I cough and splutter and gasp for air, I can hear the sound of my own sweet children as they melodically scream at each other, arguing over tech decks, the last packet of Cheetos and who's turn it is to hold the remote control.
So this post is not going to be all pretty and fluffy after all. And whilst there isn't many Hallmark moments in my story, I have a feeling that there are at least a few of you out there who will find a familiarity in my words that remind you of your own early childhood road trips.
We didn't have a beautiful Ford Territory with a built in DVD player and sound system for entertainment, so my brother and I had to amuse ourselves with tormenting each other, attempted murder and generally just making the whole trip a miserable exercise in family togetherness.
I would do the old fake cry "Oh he just hit me" and he would counteract with the all time favourite "MUMMM She's looking at me again". I would ferociously protect my stash of Minties and peppermint life savers and he would be all "She's breathing my air".
We had boundaries that weren't to be crossed. Pillows would clearly mark out his space and mine, and any arm, hand or finger that dared to cross that line were fair game for punishment. Eye contact was a dangerous game of chicken and for my own safety I dared not look out the window on his side of the car.
Mum and Dad resorted to leaving for the trip at 3am in the morning in the vain hope that we could be gently persuaded to leave our beds and settle into our seats in the car all warmly wrapped in blankets and with pillows to lull us back to sleep. They held onto the hope that this would give them at least a couple of hours head start on the trip before the silence would turn into the usual bickering.
When that plan didn't work they turned to the assistance of the 80s equivalent of Travel Calm to knock us out.
Hey don't judge them, it was for our own safety and for everyone else on the road too. It worked and with us kids peacefully sedated we would reach our campsite with barely a whisper. Unfortunately for my parents, it also meant we woke from our slumber tired and cranky and unwilling to get out of the car and help set up the tent.
So I don't actually have a lot of memories of the road trips themselves from when I was a child, not anywhere near enough to fill a whole post. But I do have very fond memories of the actual holidays and one of the things I looked forward to when I became a mum was for my hubby and I to take our kids on our own road trip.
We wanted to create our own family memories that our children would remember from their childhood, and recently we had the chance to do just that.
After hours of meticulous planning, we loaded the car up with blankets and pillow pets, personal bags of Minties, Mentos and Pez (cause life savers are so last year) iPods, iPads and DVD players.
At 3am we gently woke our 3 little boys from their sleep and moved them to the car and embarked on our 10 hour drive to QLD.
A couple of hours into the trip I recall looking into the back seat where my little angels were peacefully snoozing and with a considerable degree of smugness I decided we must be so much better at this road tripping gig than my parents were.
As we arrived at the obligatory Maccas stop for brekkie (cause every genuine road trip has a Maccas stop right?) we woke the little guys expecting sleepy smiles. Instead we were met with tired cranky stares that were dark enough to quickly wipe any smidgen of smugness off my face. If not for full bladders and the promise of a thick shake for breakfast we would not have been able to coax them out of the car.
And so with bladders emptied, legs stretched and tummies filled with a totally nutritious breakfast, the smiles once again reappeared and we confidently returned to the car and set off again.
As our kids sat quietly in their seats listening to their iPods, my husband and I held hands and smiled serenely at each other. We needed no words, with just a look we were silently praising each other for our awesome parenting and holiday making skills.
And then it started, albeit very subtly at first.
9 year old: "Can you please stop tapping my chair - its annoying me".
5 year old: "Well you're leaning on my chair and I don't like it!"
7 year old: "Can you both be quiet, I can't concentrate on my music"
Dad: "QUIET..... please!"
A few moments of blissful silence..........................
5 year old: "Stop moving around so much you're disturbing my Puppy (Pillow Pet)"
9 year old: "Well you're breathing too loudly"
7 year old: "WELL I CAN'T BREATHE CAUSE YOU'RE BREATHING ALL THE AIR!"
OMG it was like someone walked over my grave. A shiver ran down my spine and memories of trips to Conjola flashed before my eyes.
Determined to save this trip before it got stuck in a downward spin we tried distracting them with games of the modern day Eye Spy - Spotto.
"Who can spot a yellow car?" - SPOTTO! "
"Who can spot some roadkill?" "Eeeeewwww SPOTTO!"
But as we ventured further into the country side, the game of Spotto was quickly forgotten with the appearance of the first paddock of cows.
Suddenly the windows were down and 3 over excited little city boys were hanging out the windows screaming out "Moooooooo" and "BEEF BEEF BEEF"! Yup we are a classy bunch!
Whilst it was noisy, we decide to ignore the bemused look of the truckies and other cars as they drove past, and we allowed the kids to revel in their game of calling out to the livestock things like:
"We'll give you twenty bucks for your back leg" and
"Helllllooooo Dinner" followed by fits of uncontrollable giggles.
It bought us about 10 minutes of distraction.
As we drove through a small town about 7 hours into the trip, with a 1kg bag of Minties all but a memory, at least 3 full loops of a Bruno Mars CD played and clear boundaries laid out with the help of some pillow pets, I instructed my hubby to pull in to the next town.
I resisted the urge to find a chemist and medicate them and decided instead to find a Dan Murphys and medicate myself.
Not long after we had continued on our way, the back seat banter took a turn for the worse and the dreaded car sickness set in. The patience tank hit empty and triggered a droning chorus of "Are we there yet?", "Are we NEARLY there yet" and "EXACTLY HOW much longer?" that carried on for at least 20 kms as they hovered their mouths over their sick bags. The same sick bags I had recently and rather brilliantly pinched from the hospital waiting room.
I attempted to bribed them with a game of "Whoever can stay quietest for the longest gets $10 bucks". That kinda backfired and I somehow ended up $30 bucks lighter and in debt for a couple of packets of Ninjagos.
FINALLY we reached our destination.
5 Weary travellers checked in to our hotel and 2 headed straight for the mini bar. (That would be us adults in case you were looking for DOCs number).
When I rang my parents that night to tell them we had arrived safely, I vaguely remember throwing a couple of "Sorrys" into the conversation. From their end there was probably a lot of confusion over my left field apologies, from my point it was all about guilt and remorse and a desperate bargaining plea to the universe to remove the karmic punishment that was being inflicted upon me by my kids on this road trip. Punishment which I presume was the course of justice in play for all the misery my brother and I had inflicted upon my own parents, shattering their visions of wonderful family road trips.
It's a legacy I tell ya - passed from one generation to the next.
When it came time to begin our journey home, we made a quick pit stop to visit Terry White. After explaining to the nice pharmacist that my children suffered from chronic car sickness (I may have over exaggerated a little) I gratefully accepted a little packet of silence in a pill - Travel calm.
In my defense the kids didn't get sick the whole way and my husband and I arrived home with our nervous system undamaged and our sanity reasonably in tact.
Whoever wrote the quote "Its not about the destination, it's all about the journey", clearly has never been road tripping with little kids before.
Either that or they own a Ford Territory with a built in DVD player and Entertainment system and a Bulk packet of Travel Calm.
Have you checked out last weeks awesome entries from the Top 5? The post challenge was "A Day in My Life". If you missed out, you can check them out here.
And me, Life Love and Hiccups
So tell me - Do you have fond or feral memories of road tripping as a kid?
Any hints to keep kids entertained on long drives?
Have you ever tried Maccas hash browns dipped in chocolate thick shakes or am I the last to know about this delicacy?