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They are Called ‘Road Trips’ and Not ‘Road Vacations’ for a Reason…

March 22, 2012

This year I loaded up the family truckster (aka – minivan) with the family as well as a friend and her daughter for a 12ish-hour drive to go skiing for Spring Break. It was me and five females. And despite the years of marriage and raising girls, I always learn something new about my wife, daughters and women (in general) that I didn’t know before.

Me, I don’t like the car so packed full of stuff that I can’t see out of the windows. So, I meticulously packed up our van (roof box included) to avoid a personal claustrophobia attack during the 12-hour pilgrimage to the mountains for this year’s edition of Spring Break. After years of leaving our personal pillows in hotels across the United States, I thought my wife had stopped the practice of bringing a pillow. Not only was I wrong, but now our girls are in on the game. I thought loading in the car for a road trip looking like Linus from Peanuts was unique to our family as I am married to the “Princess and the Pea” who is kept awake by the smallest of undulations in the sheets, mattress, pillows or whatever and NEEDS her pillow in order to rest. That was until our friends loaded up with… you got it – their own personal pillows. So, we left town with what felt like five California king-sized bed pillows stuffed in what little extra space the van had. I now realize pillows are a female ‘must have’ travel accessory. How they tell them apart remains a mystery to me also, but I quit asking questions. I just drive.

After years of car travel with my wife and daughters, I am very sensitive to the gas station bathroom situation and always ask where they feel most comfortable making a pit stop before choosing a place. On one occasion, I was trying to pull into a station but an 18-wheeler had completely blocked the entrance and was stopped. It was at this point that I realized a woman can go from a state of slight discomfort to extreme agitation in an instant. There was a moment when I greatly feared for that truck driver’s well being, as well as my own, as I watched my sweet, blonde, Southern wife (and others in the car) transform into individuals I did not know. Luckily, he moved and a Jerry Springer moment was averted.

After years of waiting outside countless restrooms for my wife and daughters, I expected a little grace if I was the one running a little behind. After all, I did gas up the van, check the oil, clean the windshields… etc. before heading in to powder my nose. Nope. If they are ready, then the bus driver had better be also. I told them there is quite a selection of air fresheners to choose from if they got really bored. No laughs.

One thing about being on the road is that you tend to eat things you wouldn’t find in your normal diet. Truck stops offer a cornucopia of options typically not available in daily life. I generally go for the double-caffeine coffee, but the potato wedges are a personal favorite and some truck stops in Texas have incredible beef jerky selections. I explained to my wife that a Slim Jim is not beef jerky. It is a meat ‘product’. But much like the African Vulture, it became clear to me that my wife clearly lacked both the sense of both taste and smell as I watched her tear into a 22-inch Slim Jim stick.

About mid-week while driving up to the ski area after days of carrying skis, walking in ski boots, not sleeping well, not eating well and dealing with tired kids my wife looks at me and says, “You know, this is really more of a ‘trip’ than a ‘vacation’.” Yes it is sweetheart. Yes it is.

© Johnny Hea – 2012 All Rights Reserved


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  1. So brave! You described it all perfectly – truck stops do offer that only on vacation food! Funny post. thanks

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