When our family takes a vacation, our preferred method of getting to our destination is by driving. I was trained in the fine art of car travel by my parents. There were only four of us (myself, my sister and my parents) so piling into the car for a quick day trip or long weekend was something we had down to a science. A couple of times that I remember (I may have blocked others out of my mind) we took the term “road trip” to the extreme. One such venture was up and around the extreme northern sections of the Midwest; visiting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and returning through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. That trip wasn’t too bad as it was only a week and we countered our painful visit to the Mall of America by spending a day in Chicago. The doozy was the cross-country journey that took a total of three weeks to complete…in a Pontiac Grand Prix. From the Midwest to California and back. Out to the Pacific through the Dakotas and Yellowstone. Back home seeing the Grand Canyon, Texas and Graceland. I turned 16 on that trip, spending a teenager’s monumental birthday at Mount Rushmore knowing that there was still two more weeks of road to travel…in the back of a Grand Prix. (I’m currently seeking the support of others who may have shared a similar experience. Anyone? Didn’t think so.)
I joke but, in reality, the trip was something that I will always remember (along with every word of the Randy Travis album that my sister played in the car twice a day for three straight weeks). It took numerous days/months of planning on my parent’s behalf and I can say that I have visited many of the United States beautiful landmarks. The time we had as a family, in the close confines of a four door sedan, was priceless. My wife and I are trying to make the same memories with our children. We haven’t ventured West but we have achieved numerous car trips to the beach and places such as Washington DC, Chicago and Florida. Some of these trips have taken up to 15 hours and we generally make the journey in one or two days. The kids are great travelers and aside from some isolated bouts of motion sickness when they were younger, we have had minimal issues. So, when the situation presents itself that we fly to our destination, it takes us out of our comfort zone.
I have no issues with plane travel. I view it as a necessary means of getting where you need to go in a more efficient manner. The kids haven’t flown enough to feel anything other than indifference when it comes to flying. My wife is admittedly not that strong of a flyer as she often feels anxious when not able to have more control of the environment around her. Until Cam was diagnosed with Celiac, I did not fully understand where she was coming from but, as with many things in every day life that my eyes have been opened to, recent events have shown me the reasons for her feelings.
You see, I’m writing this blog entry in the midst of a three hour flight delay. This doesn’t bother me as I understand that these things can happen but it definitely affects Cam. Much as my parents did with our trips, we meticulously prepare when we travel. This preparation has only increased with his special diet. Car rides are easier as we can pack however much food he needs based on how far we are going. Airline regulations make it difficult for us to do the same. This flight was scheduled to leave right around dinner time so we had him eat a light meal prior to going to the airport and packed some snacks for the flight. We had a plan but then we lost control of the situation. He’s 12 and a sleeve of gluten free crackers and cheese ain’t going to hold him for six hours. Restaurants at our airport have zero gluten free options so sitting down over a meal to kill the time isn’t happening. He’s not going to starve but other than a bag of kettle chips at a walk up kiosk (that coincidentally just closed at 7:00), he has no other choices. It’s another example of a place that wants to provide exemplary customer service to attract return travelers but doesn’t have the knowledge or the means. For now, he’s ok but should the bad weather continue and we get more delayed, maybe I can find a Grand Prix and take a drive.