Road trips were a huge part of my childhood. My grandparents lived up around South Bend, along with aunts and uncles, and my parents liked to vacation, so we got to travel a lot. One of my favorite memories is of my parents packing the van while my brothers and I played in the van.
We knew it was about time to pull out when the red cooler and blue duffle bag containing all the snacks were finally loaded in between the middle seats. That blue duffle bag held a treasure trove of morsels. There were canisters, bags and boxes filled with goodies that we were not allowed to have on a daily basis. These tasty bits of processed pleasure were only for road trips and my brothers and I were like bears waking up from winter hibernation an hour into a car ride.
So, really it’s my parents fault that I can’t seem to get in the car without snacks.
Most of the time we are fairly healthy eaters. We get in our veggies and our protein. Water is the only drink on the menu, with the exception of coffee. Coffee counts as water in my book.
Something happens when we get ready to take a trip, though. Anything that crinkles when I touch and looks too good to be true beckons me to bring it along.
Lee gave into my passion for pink snowballs when we were dating. He thought it was cute. Now he knows it was an addiction. Some of you may be pleased to know I haven’t had a pink snowball in years. It’s only because I know that they still exist. If that existence were ever threatened, perhaps by a zombie apocalypse, I would scavenge them by the case and hide them in my bunker. There is something special about coconut flakes that have been sweetened and dyed that perfect flamingo pink, that marshmallow shell, the truly horrible and often dry chocolate cake is hard to get through but then you get to make out with that cream center and all is good.
Anyway, I’ve moved on from snowballs.
Now I like the salty stuff when we travel. I’ve raised my kids right and they know to go for the good stuff. Dill pickle flavored potato chips, beef jerky, and bugels are some of their favorites. Sometimes they cry and say weird stuff like, “I just want fresh fruit or some carrot sticks.” but I’m like, “NO! We are on a road trip. We can have nutritious stuff any time.” They cry but they eat their slim jims like I’ve taught them, washing it down with a giant slurpy.
When we drive south I know how to spot a boiled peanut stand a mile away. Don’t give me that crock pot at the gas station filled with peanuts that have been in there who-knows-how-long. Uh uh. I want the wooden stand with the sign that reads: ‘Boild P-nuts’ and has a line 5 people deep. None of my people will join in on my boiled peanut binge, but maybe that’s for the best.
We haven’t been on a road trip in months, so sometimes we have to simulate one.
We were at Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago (proof that we eat healthful and affordable food) picking up stuff for dinner. We also let the kids pick out snacks to share. As the cashier was bagging my husband asked her to keep out a few things.
“This one. Oh, and that one, too. Yes, that one,” Lee said until we had quite the pile in front of us. We do have four children, you know, and they are always very hungry.
“We need snacks for the trip home,” I explained, not wanting her to think that we were piggies enamored by plastic bags with cool looking fonts.
“Oh, where are you guys from?” she asked, clearly thinking that our mountain of morsels was indication of a long journey.
“Here. In Lexington, about ten minutes away,” I answered.
“Wow, I’d like to go on a really long trip with you all if this is how you drive across town,” she said. We all laughed really hard.
We got to the car and were still kind of chuckling. Once the doors were locked and the seat belts clicked it was down to the serious of work of tearing cellophane and passing handfuls of whatever was in there around.
We needed sustenance for the journey home, man.