Summer holiday road trips were never the number one yearly event in my childhood if you include Christmas in the vote, but they were pretty close in the grand scheme of a kid’s life.
The other day I heard one of the great summer hymns (Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer) from my kiddy past and I started thinking about my family’s summer road trips from the 60s.
We had a lot of kids in our family so some of the oldest siblings had already outgrown the annual holidays by the time the youngest kid was born in our family. In fact they had already moved out to attend university or go to work.
But there were still a lot of us packed into that four door sedan and the pecking order meant a middle seat in the rear of the car for me. Air conditioning was never on the list of car options for us, given that we live in a climate where winter has never heard the bad news about global warming from Al Gore.
There was always something exciting and intimidating about a summer holiday road trip for me when I was a kid. On the one hand I looked forward to the change of scenery, whether it was the prairies or mountains. On the other hand, I had never been able to ride in the back seat of a car on a summer holiday car trip without losing a battle to puking my guts out as a kid.
Clearly this must have been a mental thing because I could jump in the family sedan and ride for hours in the immediate area of my hometown on one of my dad’s Sunday drives, but I could never beat the summer holiday car trip and neither could Jerry for that matter.
There was something about the rocking motion and the notion that we were locked into a long road trip with the windows rolled up in the family sedan. The first foolish move was any attempt to read a comic in that situation and eventually even the smell of the paper would set off the vomit mechanism.
Triggers could be an Archie comic or it could be a Superman comic that set off the eruption because any comic would trigger the instant onset of nausea. Those of you who were kids in the 60s will remember the limited range of entertainment options for a kid in a car, so comics were high on the list.
My personal best was a trip to Mabel Lake in British Columbia where my aunt and uncle’s cabin had a backyard orchard filled with a generous supply of green apples. My parents warned me I would get sick if I ate the immature apples, but I chose a different path and loaded up on them just before we left that day.
We only got about a mile up the road before I rejected the apple diet and set a new record that topped the previous family record of about 5 miles from home held by my brother Jerry.
To this day I believe that green apples were never the real culprit, instead it was the notion that green apples would make me sick and I needed very few reasons to get car sick as a kid.
Eventually I outgrew car sickness.
But I never outgrew my childhood memories of those summer battles against the unnatural salmon-like upstream flow in my digestion process.
Now I even look at those turbulent moments with a sense of fondness because they were the only bad part of a golden summer holiday road trip memory.