travel, wasn't the only change. I once envisioned wandering with no
schedule, and without hotel reservations along the way. But a lot has
changed since I last made a similar cross-country excursion. Thanks to
map and routing software, and using the Internet to research and make
reservations at even the smallest establishments, our journey was almost
accidentally planned within an inch of its life.
You may recall, my wife dreaded the drive largely because, with her
father a commercial airline pilot, she was raised believing that any trip
longer than it takes to read a magazine requires plane tickets. Of
course, round-trip fares for her family cost less than an admission to
Disneyland. But I relished the drive, dreaming of sharing sights and
discoveries with our two kids.
Ultimately, my perspective was vindicated. My wife summed up our 2,932
miles on the road as, "Not as bad as I'd thought it would be." As my
ideas go, that's fawning praise.
We brought a TV/VCR powered by the dashboard lighter to entertain our
6-year-old and 8-year-old during long stretches in Arizona, Wyoming and
South Dakota. But they only watched a video once, content to write
letters, play games, gaze at scenery, yell "Cow!" or bicker endlessly
over the maddening minutiae of Pokemon characters.
As we passed through Monument Valley, the Rocky Mountains and other
stunning views, we were thrilled the kids kept looking up without
prompting and exclaiming "Wow!" at nature's marvels. But the
best-remembered features weren't always the most obvious.
We were dwarfed by the Grand Canyon and its glory, but my daughter
remembers with glee the brown bats she spotted hanging in corners outside
our nearby hotel. Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument are
stunning, but we were even more thrilled to drive through awesome
electrical storms that went on for an hour or more. The woods and lakes
of northern Minnesota were as blissful as ever, but what the kids
remember best may be the seemingly endless supply of sunfish and bluegill
grabbing their hooks, baited or not.