By Sarah Vander Schaaff

As I prepare for a two-day road trip with my family, I am tempted to say that the journey can be educational. Not in a planned, “let’s stop at historical landmarks” kind of education, but in the unstructured, “tidbits of unique information” manner.

I know I learned a great deal as a kid from our yearly drives to Florida:

1. You know you’re in the south when the breakfast meals at McDonald’s include a biscuit instead of an English muffin.
2. There are a few counties in the state of Georgia with speed traps.

Oh, there were other things I learned, not the least of which was the geographical order of states and which ones took the longest to drive through. But if my kids are like me, they are going to discover a few things not talked about in textbooks.

1. Why does mom insist on stopping at Panera and how is it that we always find one? Great question kids, leading us to two fascination topics: what is the value of a clean restroom and how do you start a franchise.

2. We just stopped for gas. Why did dad get out of the car? Once you leave New Jersey, this is bound to come up. Yes, in the rest of America, ordinary citizens pump their own gas. You will need to learn how; unfortunately I no longer remember how to do it.

3. Why does mom love Ohio? We might say it’s because so many presidents hail from the Buckeye state, but between you and me, it goes back to clean restrooms. Finding one of the many clean, well-run Oasis rest stops along I-80 can bring me to tears.

4. Why are we allowed to watch movies all morning in the car but can’t do this at home? In an effort to keep you from making a total mess in the car, this is the one time we may tell you that television is preferable to reading.

5. How is it that my sister is two feet away from me and I still feel like she’s invading my personal space? I have no answer for this. Generations of travelers have felt a compulsive need to fight over the back seat with their siblings. It is one of the reasons you are allowed to watch movies all morning.

6. When do we get there? Again, an eternal question. Suffice it to say, we get there when we get there.

And, I hope to “get there” sometime next week, which means that I’ll return with a new post in April.

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