Well not really travel tips as much as memories of travels when I was younger. My father liked to take and enjoy his vacations. We often drove to our destinations. I enjoyed riding and seeing the country. I was not bored at all during the trips. I never once uttered the words “are we there yet”. I might not have finished the trip had I repeated that phrase too many times. I think I just liked to see new places and even the times we went to our regular spots I liked to see the sights. We went to the coast often, and even though it was the same way each time I just looked and was able to see something new. Many vacations when I was a kid were out of the state, so often took a couple of days, or more, to get there. As anyone from Central Texas knows, the first day is to get you out of Texas, or at least close. The remaining states zip by like race cars.
I liked things about traveling in a car. We would often stop and get gas and something to eat. It was a treat to me, to eat in the car, something almost adventurous about that. Then again we did eat in regular restaurants and cafes. The morning meal was the best, I always liked breakfast. Sometimes I was allowed to get cereal, but this cereal was different that what I normally had at home. This was the small box that you could open on the front and then open the inner package and pour the milk right into the box. For a child this was exciting. Although I had normal fare such as pancakes or the bacon and egg breakfast. There was also a special aroma of the cafe or diner at breakfast. It was a mixture of all things morning. I have experienced it since then, usually in a place like a waffle house. It was the sweet smell of the syrup, the bacon, fried eggs, and coffee all mixed together. Nothing really tasted like this one smell but you could pick everything out.
Other memories were two very distinct and almost quintessential vacation stops, those were Stuckey’s and Nickerson Farms. They had recognizable colors and building designs. I still see some of those old buildings that have been reused. They were strictly for getting weary travelers inside, and then selling almost anything you could possibly want for a road trip, from the little metal boxes of aspirin to travel games and anything that would amuse a bored child. There were other similar type stops along the road, which my father seemed to prefer. However the object was the same, take advantage of the tired parents that had a headache and bored children. There were displays just to attract the attention of kids, colorful, low to the ground, and even some with a memento with your name on it. It was rare when I was rewarded with those and I knew not to ask, but I ended up with a few memorable items over the years.
When I think back, I remember the places we went when I was young. Often it was to visit a relative that lived a long way from us, others (most often) it centered around my father’s favorite pastime, fishing, and then just the standard vacation going to a place for the sake of seeing it. I remember a lot of the “things” we visited, however the trips are the part that stick in my mind. It was the time in the vehicle or stopping some place unplanned that were the real vacation to me. Spending time turning the display of “goodies” while my father settled up the gasoline charges, and the occasional souvenir. Sometimes even stopping at the “snake farm” or “meteor crater”. I still like to drive to places, even if it takes longer. Over the years I have seen many of the “tourist traps” fade away, lost to a culture that demands things fast. The big travel centers have everything you could possibly need in one stop. Perhaps the kids are missing things by looking at their phones or games instead of looking at the ever changing screen outside the vehicle. Maybe the reason they are in a hurry is the lack of long trips, dotted with informative stops along the way. I learned things about life riding in the car with my father. I don’t know what happened to the little tokens with my name on it, sometimes I don’t even remember the visit with my family member, but I do remember the times on the road, like an explorer discovering something new. To me it was new, and I cherish those discoveries to this day.