Road Trip!!!

There is so much we could talk about:  the G7 “support” for a fossil fuel free world by 2100, Mr Harper’s visit with the Pope, the Senate’s secret arbitration process, but today we’re going to talk about road trips.

Ms Soapbox and her daughter (let’s call her Missy) are going on a road trip to Victoria where Missy will start her first nursing job.

The trip will take two days because Ms Soapbox loathes being stuck in a car for more than two hours. This is likely a holdover from her childhood when she and her sisters would be trapped in the backseat of an ancient Chrysler until their father’s bladder couldn’t take it anymore.

Ms Soapbox’s parents rarely took road trips. But the few they took were very exciting.

Not quite Ms Soapbox’s Dad’s car

One of Ms Soapbox’s most vivid childhood memories is her father racing around a blind curve trying to overtake a battered truck with Jesus Saves painted on the side. Her mother gritted her teeth and said: “You’d better hope Jesus Saves because we’re all going to die.”

Over the years Mr and Ms Soapbox and the children took many road trips from Calgary to Lantzville BC where Ms Soapbox’s parents lived.

Mr Soapbox, bless his heart, is less likely to scare the wits out of Ms Soapbox than her father was. Nevertheless, it took some time for him to understand that when Ms Soapbox needs to get out of the car, she really needs to get out of the car.

Mr Soapbox is one of those people who packs the car the night before and leaves at the crack of dawn. His objective is to get a good two hours under our belt while traffic is light and the children are asleep before stopping for breakfast at Smitty’s.

Generally a good plan…until the children stuff themselves with pancakes (try telling a child she can’t have a pancake when you’re on the road).

The children would then be strapped back into their car seats with a water cooler strategically placed between them to stop them from bickering. On one trip Ms Soapbox found a lovely antique wooden chair and positioned it upside down between them.  They were terrified. They’d overheard their father say “that thing is going to poke their eyes out.”

It usually took a couple of hours for the children to doze off (not surprising given their hearty breakfast of icing sugar and pancake syrup). In the meantime Mr Soapbox would entertain them by pointing out mountain goats (specks on the landscape) and craggy peaks (which one?) while Ms Soapbox dove into the goodie bag at her feet searching for books and toys to toss into the back seat like steaks thrown into a lion’s cage.

Not quite a “Mountain Worm”

When all else failed Ms Soapbox would tell them stories about the Mountain Worms. These are MASSIVE worms that eat rocks and create tunnels which are used by the railways when the worms aren’t in them.

Mountain worms sleep during the day and get very angry when disturbed (by cars like ours). Then the authorities must race up the mountain to fire off rounds from the mountain cannon (which looks very much like an avalanche cannon) in order to keep the mountain worms at bay.

After the “lost screw incident” (don’t ask) Mr Soapbox learned that Ms Soapbox would crawl out the window at 120 kph if he didn’t book a hotel for the night in Vernon or Kelowna.

And Ms Soapbox learned that the only hotel worth staying in is one with a waterslide. Mr Soapbox soon perfected the arched back descent and last minute contortion that ensured he wouldn’t drown the little Soapboxes when he shot out of the plastic tube at excessive speed. At night everyone slept like a baby, even the babies.

This road trip promises to be much less stressful (for one thing Missy will be driving not hollering from the backseat), and when we finish settling her in her apartment it will be her turn to visit us.

No doubt she’ll take a plane like a civilized person.

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16 Responses to Road Trip!!!

  1. Liane Sharkey says:

    Well, congrats Missy Soapbox! Great news. And Ms Soapbox’s memoir about childhood trips is hilarious. We are in NYC at the moment with our 27-year-old, which is fun at times, but often has me longing for those simple car trips of days gone by….

    • Yes, the upside of children being small is that you can strap them into their car seats and they’re going with you whether they like it or not. Things got a little trickier when they became teenagers. I still remember the younger one staring at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre and saying “So what’s the big deal”. I almost throttled her!
      PS I’ve met your 27 year old. I’m sure he’s a charming traveling companion. 🙂

  2. jvandervlugt says:

    Have a fun trip Ms and Missy Soapbox. I like road trips. Lots of great memories. I remember doing the reverse of your road trip with my husband and our children. After a day of driving and the fun of Dino Town having worn off, our little family pulled into McBride. We had traveled down from Prince George. I walked into the hotel asked for a room, when the manager told me, yes, I have a room, but by law I’m not allowed to rent a room when the power’s out. I had a look on my face like you’ve-got-to-be kidding me, and that’s when I swear the clouds parted, and the Lord let there be light, because the power came back on. I repeated to the hotel manager, “I’ll take that room now.”

    Safe travels for you two. Great blog. Loved the “Mountain Worm.”

    • Gosh, I would have camped myself and my small children right on his counter/in his lobby if he said that to me!😁

      • What a great story Joanna. It reminds me of when the Soapbox family decided to spend the night in Lund BC. The hotel lobby and restaurant were lovely but our room left a lot to be desired. But the weather was muggy and hot, the hour was late and the children were exhausted, none of us would made it back home alive, so we took the room. We spent the night listening to a cop show blaring through the paper thin walls next door and a music fest going full bore in the parking lot. When we woke up we learned that while we were sleeping (sorta) the place was robbed! The kids still consider it to be a great adventure.

  3. Congratulations Missy! Have a safe trip! Loved the memories. All I do on road trips is sleep. I fall asleep in moving vehicles all the time, whether I’m driving or not! Fill me up with coffee! I hope you find a hotel with a water slide in Victoria!

  4. Brent McFadyen says:

    You have to love the road trip as long it is not too long

  5. Julie Ali says:

    Hi Susan,

    I’m so glad Missy got a job. Congratulations!

    It’s great that you are going to Victoria to get her settled. I hope she took an umbrella, rubber boots, books, a potted begonia, photographs of family, CDs, and other essentials. Don’t forget to stock the fridge and freezer for her: it’s amazing how much food “adult” kids get through and she’s going to be so busy the first weeks on the job.

    Your road trip to Victoria sounds pretty sedate compared to your childhood ones. Ah, childhood road trips. Like you I had parents that traumatized their kids with horrific road journeys (mostly to B.C.)

    Dad would load five kids and mum in the car and just set off. He would never book a hotel. He hoped that there was room at the inn somewhere and just went. We would drive and drive for years (or so it seemed) and because we had no hotel reservations, usually we would drive through the night. I still remember the headlights of trucks as I fell asleep in the back of the car. Maybe this is the reason I never want to go on road trips further than Jasper with our sons now.

    One particular memory is of apple trees. Dad stuffed three apple trees into the car (with the five kids and mum) and brought them home. Those three apple trees are now in the back yard garden of their home and every year the apples remind us of of what we endured as children. It wasn’t pretty.

    But I guess, these sorts of road trips build character and I can tell you have plenty of character based on your near death experiences on road trips. The lost screw incident sounds interesting. What happened? Did you have to drive through BC looking for a room and not find one because they were all booked up? I sympathize. Believe me I sympathize.

    Have fun with Missy. Such luck to have a home away from home in Victoria! Hope she enjoys her first year of nursing!

    • Julie, Mr Soapbox (bless his heart) was similar to your father in that he preferred NOT to make reservations just in case we’d have enough “oomph” to make it to the next little town. The lost screw incident refers to the time when the children were very small and we ended up in a God forsaken motel with a colicky baby (Mini, not Missy) who wouldn’t quieten down unless we popped her in her mechanical swing. The contraption was disassembled in the trunk. When Mr Soapbox dragged it out of the car a screw popped off. It hit the pavement and disappeared. The poor man spent 20 minutes crawling around in the dark on his hands and knees until he found it. Good thing he did because he’d have been driving all over the place with the baby in the back trying to get her to settle down.
      You story about three apple trees being stuffed into the car with five kids and two adults is delightful!
      We forgot to bring a potted begonia, but Missy says she’s going to buy a plant for her balcony, maybe a strawberry or raspberry, because you’re right plants always make a new place feel at home.

  6. GoinFawr says:

    Ah, the family road trip, always an adventure regardless of the destination. Until the Sony Walkman, peppermints and hard candy raspberries were our staple foods and primary distractions as we traveled. I recall my siblings and I sitting/arguing/sleeping in the back seat of the burgundy ’76 Newport for what seemed like an eternity (but was probably no more than 5 hours), deeply inhaling the rushing fresh mountain air blended with second hand Rothmans fumes; our folks wondering why it was we were always getting so ‘carsick’… good times. Safe journeys to you and yours Susan.

    • I remember hard candy raspberries! And the joy of second hand smoke rushing into the back seat because the front windows were wide open. If I didn’t know better I’d swear you were in our car enjoying the ride!

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