Family: July 2009 Archives

Tomorrow at 10 a.m.

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... I'll be on "Great Day St. Louis" to talk about taking family road trips of the non-Griswold variety. How do you survive trips down Route 66 with two boys in the backseat?


I kid.

Oh the stories I could tell about my family road trips. Like the time a bee got into our car and my stepdad almost ran us into a ditch because of All the Screaming and my mom with her big violet 70s sunglasses.

Then there was that time, actually the eleventy-frillionth time, that our car broke down on the side of the highway and some very friendly Bubbas in overalls came to fix it for us or the time(s) I got carsick and threw up in the furry floorboard of the car. Which had no AC. And it was sunny summer. And 95 degrees.

Dana's Essential Short List of Vehicular Road Trip Necessities:
- Dramamine. I cannot travel without it
- CDs. I do a Jack Nicholson from "As Good As It Gets" and burn mixes with songs categorized relative to travel duration
- Maps because you can't get GPS in some spots in the Ozark hills
- A camera
- Barf bag
- Snacks
- Each kid has an activity bag
- Nintendo DSi. One for each kid. WORTH IT. Cheaper than buying a new car we can't afford with the fancy little television screens that drop down from the ceiling in the back.
- First aid kit. We will promptly run out of band-aids after the first rest stop.
- Blankets

Chris made me stop at flares because he thinks I'm ridiculous but I'm a Scaggs on my maternal side and I do not want to taunt fate because if there's a chance for all h-e-double-hockeysticks to break loose on a roadtrip then all h-e-double-hockeysticks will break loose on our roadtrip.

Anyway, I'll be on at ten o'clock.

Out of curiosity, what can you NOT do without on a roadtrip?  

Ever feel nervous when your children handle pyro and/or explosives?

"No, kids, these fireworks are for Mr. Loesch and Mr. Dellas."

Yeah, well Team Loesch did that on Shock City's roof on the Fourth of July because it's not Independence Day unless you can toss a bottle rocket from four stories up with friends and your friends' kids.


Which reminds me.


When I was a kid I spent the majority of my summers in the Ozarks with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and all their offspring. There where so many of us I honestly have no idea how Grandma kept track; I remember stealing cookies from her cookie jar and running off to hide in the corn when I thought she was occupied and dangit all to Hades if that devil woman didn't find me. I mean that affectionately. I'm sure you can understand the wrath of a ten-year-old whose Grandma just swiped a Keebler elf cookie from her hand moments before she crammed it into her mouth.


The great thing about the Fourth of July is that all the adults wanted to drink beer and light fireworks off from my aunt's porch so no one paid all too much mind to what the kids were setting on fire - except my mother, who never let me hold a Roman candle like my cousins did because some lady she worked with had a neighbor who knew someone whose arm was blown off by a Roman candle when it exploded and bits of arm went everywhere. She changed the story up and made it gorier every year; one time it was his arm, another time it was his face and his lips were burnt clean off.

My cousins and I waged legendary bottle rocket fights. I was the meanest of them all mainly because I had to be: everyone took one look at my white fro and their eyes twisted into evil half moons.

When the adults ran out of their share of bottle rockets they dispatched Uncle Surl out to the field to babysit us. Uncle Surl is a cantankerous beer drinker who prefers solitude and great mystery novels to nights out, at least in his old age. His idea of a cruise is to pay for a bunk on a merchant ship and sail around the Pacific going to ports "they don't take the stupid tourists to." He became legend when, while boarding in Alaska, he slipped and fell all the way down the gangplank. Instead of fighting it, he thought "Eff it. I'll roll" and broke his leg. He also once stole the family town's city sign and planted it up at the North Pole.

Uncle Surl would trudge out to the field near the railroad tracks where we were all battling, the porch a glimmer in the distance.

"Here!" he'd bark, and produce a batch of pilfered bottlerockets from the porch. We were estatic as our supplies were dwindling. We prepared to light them off in our hands when Uncle Surl would holler "NO, no, you blockheads, you'll blow your da*mn hands off and then your mothers will nag me to death. Here." He downed the open bottle of beer in his right hand, finished off the one in his left, and plunked them down on a railroad tie.

"Stick 'em in this and then light 'em."

He'd watch for a few minutes, the resulting explosions reflecting off his thick glasses, before trudging across the field, back to our aunt's house.


There's something about the Fourth of July that brings me back to the Ozarks, even mentally, and even if I'm standing on the roof in the middle of the city with fireworks exploding all around me. The kids clamored around Chris as he lit bottle rockets in his hand, anxious to see if he'd blow his arm off. The sky was red and hazy from all the smoke.


Maybe it's because I'm older, but the night seemed to last longer when I was younger.

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