2,200 miles in the Barney Booster
About 10 years ago my family and I drove all the way from Greensboro North Carolina to Salt Lake City Utah. The trip carried us through about 8 different states and 2200 miles of great fun! I don’t know if it’s obvious or not but the word “fun” may have been an exaggerated optimistic point of view. We embarked on this journey in an early 1990’s purple Ford mini-van. The reason we drove was because my parents had the goal of saving some money and they also wanted to give all the children the chance bond with each other. Boy did we bond!
There was a total of 8 of us at the time, my parents, 5 boys and 1 girl, bless her heart. The purple mini-van we were driving was awarded the very fitting nickname, “The Barney Booster.” This nickname was justified because it looked like Barney had fallen over and someone put wheels on it. It is always said that mini-vans are supposed to be compact on the outside but spacious on the inside, but let’s be honest with 8 of us and only 7 seats the term “spacious” was far from reality. I should clarify that it only had 7 seats when we bought it but once we wedged a cooler in between the middle seats it became an 8 seater. My mom used the cooler to her advantage by making it the time out seat.
Up to this point I have described the driving conditions pretty well, but wait it gets better. To save time we drove through the night. We drove 2200 miles, 36 hours strait without sleeping in a bed. Our attempts to take naps in the car were not very successful. When you look at it in days, one night without a bed might not sound so bad but being in a very uncomfortable position for 36 hours you tend to long for a bed. Being very determined, my parents would only stop to use the bathroom. One thing about my mom is that she is always prepared. She packed enough food to hold us over for the most part of the intense car ride even when eating seemed to be a frequent activity to pass the time.
I feel like I am on an infomercial because I have to keep saying “but wait there’s more.” A week prior to our trip my eldest brother and I were exposed to poison ivy to which we are highly allergic so we were both on medication that unfortunately had the side effect of frequent bathroom trips and a constant itch. Sometimes while driving through the slow empty parts of our country we would just pull over on the freeway so that my brother and I could hop out and you know… One time while pulled over for a bathroom break another mini-van pulled over with the same idea and 5 girls hopped out. You can imagine how embarrassed we felt as those girls headed into the same group of trees we were in…
Most people after hearing this much of the story immediately say “you have crazy parents” and it’s true I do have crazy parents but in a good way. Taking 6 children under the age of 13 across the country for a two week stay in Utah is definitely crazy. We were a little rowdy and rambunctious for the first portion of the car ride. The arguments were usually over what, at the time, seemed to be important. Things like who is taking up more space on the back seat and whose turn it was to play with the “Game boys.” My mom is famous for the “reach around and snap.” This was when she would be driving and reaches back towards us and snaps her fingers as if that was going to stop us from arguing.
Part of the reason we had embarked on this journey was because my dad was really sick at the time with cancer and so we were headed to Salt Lake to see his family that lived there. This presented another obstacle because his left arm would go numb quite often, this made it hard for him to drive and that meant that my mom had to drive the majority of the way. We have a family rule that is whenever we are in the car the driver gets to pick the music. When the distance you are traveling is not far-off then it doesn’t really matter what music the driver picks because it will only be on for a few minutes. My mom had a CD that she made for the trip with the same 5 songs from the movie “A Walk to Remember” on there twice… we listened to it the whole way. We had those songs memorized to the point where we could not only sing along with the music but also sing them perfectly a cappella. Even now, 10 years later, every time we hear those songs we turn them up and sing along and think back on the long drive we once made.
After that long journey we were able to spend some good quality time with some of our relatives in Salt Lake City. To be honest I think I remember the car ride better than our stay in Utah. Countless hours were spent playing the “Alphabet game” and “Slug Bug” during the drive. As for my parents I don’t know if the trip was a success in their eyes or just a disaster. All I can say is that the drive home was a little different; we stopped at a hotel. My parents were happy to have made it that far so they decided to “spoil” us with a one night stay.
Reflection: This was an assignment for my english 2010 class at SLCC. We we asked to prepare a memoir and this was the story I chose to use. Writing this memoir was fun because its a genre that allows you to be creative. Although the story needs to sound true it doesnt necessarily need to be true. In my case the story I chose for my memoir is already entertaining so I didnt need to beef it up with exaggerations or false information. Once I learned that the purpose of a memoir is to relate an essential human experience, I was able to organize my story so that it fit that criteria. Overall it was a fun paper to write and rewrite and rewrite again.