For the last time: No, we’re not there yet

There’s nothing more fun than a good ol’ fashioned summer road trip with the family.

Actually, that’s a lie. Sipping margaritas in a hot tub full of college cheerleaders is a lot more fun, but for purposes of this column, let’s stay with the road trip theme. Because the truth is, spending adventurous hours in close quarters on the road can help you all bond together as a family. Or, it may result in an ugly divorce and nasty custody battle. Frankly, it could go either way.

The important thing is that you go. Why? Because road trips are uniquely American. Because they’re tradition. Because you can’t afford to fly somewhere this year.

So the first step is to pick a destination. These tough economic times may crimp your style a bit, but if you take out what you have in savings you’ll be surprised at just how far you’ll be able to go. Perhaps all the way to Green River.

To really cut costs, consider the bargains available in places overlooked by the crowds this year. Your friends and neighbors may smirk when you mention your vacation to that Louisiana beach, but you’ll have the last laugh when you tell them how much money you saved and how it only took five vigorous shampoo jobs to get most of the oil residue out of little Ashley’s hair.

Or you could have a more traditional vacation experience, such as a trip to witness the wonder of Mount Rushmore. Do you have any idea just how beautiful and majestic this national monument is? Me neither. Never been there. But for vacation value, you just can’t beat spending hours looking at four politicians carved in rock. The mere sight of this engineering marvel will impress your teenager for a good 10 to 15 seconds, after which he’ll quickly resume texting his friends back home about how lame the trip is.

Las Vegas is a fairly close vacation spot. In fact, it’s only a 7-hour drive, not counting the time your wife makes you stop at the outlet stores in St. George, in which case it’s a 20-hour drive.  Yet contrary to what you’ve heard, Las Vegas is a perfectly acceptable place for young children — assuming your kids are into sports betting and lap dances.

No matter where you go, you’ll need to pack appropriately, which is why I’ve prepared a brief packing guide that is both full of ugly gender stereotypes — and extremely accurate.

What to Pack for Your One-week Summer Vacation:

Women: 18 casual dresses, 27 shirts, a curling iron, 32 pairs of shorts, a ski parka, 40 pairs of shoes, 9 formal dresses, a back-up curling iron, 8 swimsuits, enough make-up for a convention of clowns, 22 different hair-care products, your wedding dress, three suitcases of toiletries, a back-up to the back-up curling iron.

Men: 2 T-shirts (preferably clean).

After trying to load all this in the car, you may find that you do not have enough room. You could ditch some of your bags, but let’s be honest: unlike the kids, you actually need the luggage on vacation. Far be it from me to suggest anything unethical, but “accidentally” driving off while leaving little Jordan behind at home rarely results in the D.A. pursuing child abandonment charges.

Finally, it’s time to head out on the open road. I don’t know how it works in your family, but with us, I drive. I have to. My wife has many wonderful qualities, but a sense of direction is not among them. This is fine by her. She prefers to kick back in the front passenger seat and nibble on part of the 150 pounds of beef jerky she’s brought, all the while occasionally offering me helpful driving tips. (“Slow down, you idiot!”)

So yes, there may be some arguments, but the fighting, the long drive and the money spent will all be worth it when you finally arrive at your new home for the next seven thrilling days. You’ll know you’re close when see the large, welcoming sign that gets all of us excited for vacation:

“Next Exit: Green River.”

E-mail Steve Beauregard at beauregardsteve@ hotmail.com.


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