Rest Areas, Parking Areas, & Service Areas: Summer Vacation Blog #1

I did not do road trips as a child. As a young adult my road trips consisted of my work as a college recruiter and moving my friend RSJ to Arizona. Since I’ve been married we’ve road tripped every summer. In fact I think our honeymoon was our first road trip. I’m glad for the road trips. It gives me a chance to see America and gives me more material to use in my classroom

Most of the funny and interesting stories about our trip so far are the kind that you had to be there to enjoy it, so I’m going with this post instead:

  1. Babies, infants, & toddlers could universally change race relations. We stopped in places that I probably would not have stopped in as a single woman of African descent and our son just made everyone smile, laugh, and say a few words to us.  Which I am convinced would not have happened had I been alone or just with my husband.
  2. I’m no climatologist, but I’ve heard the news and have seen first-hand how the heat has destroyed the nation’s crops (especially corn crops). It was frightening and sad to see many smaller farms totally dried and dead. It made us wonder how those families were surviving if this were there only livelihood.
  3. Cities with football & baseball teams that build BIG stadiums in the downtown areas should not have abject poverty in the shadows of their NFL or MLS stadiums (Cleveland, St. Louis)…anyone see Jonathan Kozol’s documentary Savage Inequalities?
  4. I think Missouri is a southern state and not a Mid-western state.
  5. I now know the real reason why so many American kids are drawn to McDonalds…on road trips it is the one place that parents can rely on – it is the one place that consistently has: room for kids to roam/run/play; a changing station; high chairs; and a kid’s menu that parents can tolerate.  My hubby and I are not huge fans of Mickey Dees (I get my coffee there because I prefer it to Dunkin and Starbucks is too far and the occasional “I’m stressed out” double cheeseburger meal). Neither one of us grew up eating at the golden arches and we don’t feel compelled to introduce our son to Ronald McDonald…except that we tried stopping other places on our road trip and the place either did not have a changing station, did not have high chairs, or did not offer something or child could eat.

In defense of McDonald’s I’d like to add that last year I noticed that many of the Mickey Dees were under renovation and this year I see that the renovations were mainly about accessibility.  Every Mickey Dees we stopped in had wide aisles, wheelchair accessible tables or tables that had a pull out, low sinks and low hand dryers, and a bathroom stall truly big enough for a wheelchair or for a person with mobility challenges.  I’m able-bodied so I can’t truly judge the appropriateness of the changes, but from my social worker lens it looks good.

  1. Our Miracle Boy has learned several new words including “vacation,” “Wal-Mart,” (I learned there is a Wal-Mart in Sweden!) and “Mickey Dees”; he’s adjusted well to eating, sleeping, and bathing in new places each night this past week;  he has found plenty of opportunities to dance and sing; he tried some new foods (tomatoes & cucumbers, which he did not like); and he’s reminded us that we take these trips because it gives us an opportunity to see the world through his eyes – which is always fun and exciting!

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