Summer means road trips. The children are out of school, so families travel to visit their relatives and friends. This summer past time has been memorialized in the movies usually by comedies that rely on a series of unfortunate events to create awkwardly humorous situations.
Road trips are fun, exciting, and painful. There are long hours of sitting in the car, but there is the reward of catching up with family. To make trips a little less painful we get some books on CD from the Hernando County library. The stories can let you separate yourself from the monotony of a long trip and usually settles the kids down. On our last trip, we listened to Paper Boy by Vince Vawter.
Another way to entertain a car load of people while traveling is to play games. You can sing songs, but that usually only lasts a little while. There are games like I-Spy that can entertain for awhile. We play a variation on I-Spy where we think of an item in a store and name the store and describe the item.
Smartphones help to make traveling easier. There are apps like yelp, google maps, urbanspoon, that help you find restaurants nearby. These apps usually provide ratings and reviews, to help you make your choice. Gas Buddy and other apps help you find cheap gas nearby. Individual restaurants- especially chains- allow you to place an order on your phone so it’s ready to pick up when you get there.
Traveling has changed over time. Before the interstates, we traveled smaller roads and there were many roadside attractions. Some of these have become state parks and the rest have faded. Now we travel on interstates and toll roads. We arrive at our destination more quickly, but we sacrifice all the side roads. However, there are still a number of vendors who sell Florida themed products like gator jerky, oranges, boiled p-nuts and even hammocks. Before we get on the interstate, we enjoy stopping for Doug and Dolores Grant’s smoked mullet on 476. They used to set up shop at the corner of Lake Lindsey and 41, but now they are about 20 minutes further east on 476. It is nice to bring a treat to the loved ones you are visiting.
When you take a summer road trip, be prepared for the dreaded lovebugs. These docile, but ubiquitous insects can turn your windshield into an opaque mess in a matter of minute. On the interstate highways, you can stop at a gas station and clean your windshield. On the turnpike they have service plazas which provide bathrooms, restaurants, and a gas station. The service plaza provides a jet of water to clean the windshield. When we stopped at the service plaza last weekend, a gentleman armed with glass cleaner and paper towels, polished his windshield as we observed with envy.
In addition to lovebugs, the roads can be quite treacherous. Be careful of the large rented trucks. U-Haul drivers are usually not familiar driving a vehicle that large. The driver who is used to driving a 16 foot car is now driving a 24 foot truck. They often can change lanes without accounting for the larger size of their vehicle. Cell phones are another danger to look out for while driving. If you see someone looking down or staring at their phone be careful, because they may swerve as they pay attention to their phones and not the road
The summer brings rain in Florida, sometimes spats of torrential downpour. The law currently requires you to turn you lights on in the rain. You are not allowed to use your hazard lights in the rain, using hazard lights or not using lights in the rain can result in a ticket
As Americans, we love our cars. We spend much of our life in them. Cars affect much of our lives from the layout of towns to the way we layout our stores. One of the greatest celebrations of the American Car is the summer road trip. So enjoy yourself out there.
Editor’s Note: Do not let your child fly a drone in the car, no matter how small.