Road Trip: Part One | Teen Ink

Road Trip: Part One

November 21, 2010
By Keilah GOLD, Eureka, Missouri
Keilah GOLD, Eureka, Missouri
18 articles 10 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I used to have an open mind, but my brains kept falling out."

Whoever invented the Family Road Trip deserves to be shot. Who first decided that cramming a group of highly volatile people into an extremely small amount of space for a long period of time was a good idea? I was under the impression that if kids twelve and under didn’t get their daily dose of energy-burning spastic activity they violently imploded and their brains melted out their eyeballs; that if teenage girls had to spend more than six hours a day straight with their spastic younger brothers they began losing their hair at age thirty and the collagen in their skin depleted by thirty-five; that if parents had to spend more than a full day with their out-of-town relatives they spontaneously combusted with suppressed emotions.

And yet despite all this, Mom decided that a summer family road trip would create bonding, high-quality, meaningful family time. (They do say that traumatic experiences bring people closer.) So in mid-July, my grandpa flew in from Hawaii to join us and we set off on our ten day excursion from St. Louis, Missouri, to D.C., Boston, New York, and Niagara Falls. We had enough junk to pass for refugees fleeing a war zone. More, actually. I’m talking floor-to-ceiling bags of soybeans, fruit leather (does that even sound appetizing to you?), vitamin juice, and all sorts of Mom’s organic, ultra-healthy snack foods. In my opinion it’s not a true snack unless it’s loaded with calories and has enough sugar to give a squirrel ADHD. But that’s just me.

We crammed everything into our little mini-van, squeezed ourselves into the cracks, plugged in Stacey, the GPS device we named after my aunt, and the bug massacre began. I swear those little guys aimed for the windshield. Either that or it was my grandpa's driving. Don’t get me wrong, I love my grandpa to death, but he does not know about this brilliant little thing called cruise control. He drives with two feet, pressing the brake and the gas at the same time, alternating applying greater pressure to one side or the other. As a result, our brake-lights were always on, and our speed vacillated at a terrifying rate between forty and eighty miles an hour. My brother threw up. I was carsick for the first time in my life. I think we were all praying to God to let the End be fast and painless.

The first hotel we stayed in was the ritzy type of place where you just know there are cockroaches under the bed and the pillows are stuffed with dirty underwear. But they had a pool, so we were happy. We struggled into our rooms with a towering pile of suitcases, threw on our swimsuits and raced down to the pool.

Let me make one thing clear: I will swim in blue water. I will even swim in green water. Gray water. Brown water. But there is something dangerous and ill-omened about yellow water. Everyone knows yellow snow, and when yellow snow melts, guess what it makes? Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. I let my brothers take the risk and go swimming in my stead. I would wait and see if they were covered in boils in the morning, or if they had contracted some rare, urine-carried disease that turned your teeth purple and your hair green (you’d never have to dress up for Mardi Gras again).

I went upstairs and read instead.

The next morning we were on the road again. Grandpa drove. Mak threw up. I was carsick. Again.

By day we stuffed on Mom’s organic leather and then stopped at McDonalds and loaded up on Big Macs and greasy French fries and by night we threw pillows at Dad’s head when he snored too loudly. We argued incessantly. The boys’ eyes were glued permanently to the tiny square screens of their DSs. My mom watched The Pursuit of Happyness three times on our portable DVD player . . . in one day. We had near-death experiences with other cars exactly nine times. Grandpa refused to relinquish the wheel. We got on each other’s nerves. We gained weight eating fast food every day and sitting in a space smaller than a large suitcase for nine hours a day.

The recipe for family bonding.

Just when we got to D.C., the news headlines of the day read: RECORD HEATWAVE HITS D.C., NEW YORK, AND BOSTON. POWERLINES SIZZLED IN HEAT. MASS POWER SHORTAGE.

I told Dad I was now 99% sure that it was a sign from God to turn around and head home.

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