Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Revenge of the Tic Tac Toe Chicken

Yes, I was a Nancy Drew girl growing up, but that’s not where I came imageup with that title. Rather, it’s about a certain tic-tac-toe-playin’ chicken found in a glass cage in Reptile World in Rapid City, South Dakota. Four years ago, that chicken beat my 8-year-old daughter’s butt in a game of x’s and o’s, and this weekend, she’s getting a rematch.

It’s time for our annual family vacation (cue “Holiday Road”). I come from a family of teachers, and the summer road trip is sacred to us. This summer, my kids and boyfriend and I are spending two and a half weeks in a car: first to Mount Rushmore for the 4th of July (and a chick tac toe rematch), over to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, down to Colorado for some whitewater rafting, through Nebraska and Iowa because they’re in the way, to Indianapolis to visit family, back through Wisconsin Dells, over to Winona for a summer Shakespeare festival, and back home.


This will be Steve’s first summer trip with the kids and me. His jawimage clenches when he smiles and tells me how much he’s looking forward to it. He’s no dummy.

But I love the summer road trip. It’s the only time I don’t feel guilty about not cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, paying bills, exercising, or any of the daily chores that accumulate like woodticks on my back. I may do some writing, but I probably won’t. I’ll read, and my kids will play rather than watch TV, and I won’t halt any conversations because I have to get back to my computer to grade. Wally World, here we come.

Any suggestions for writing on the road, places to visit in the upper U.S., or smell- and tasteless over-the-counter narcotics to sedate children/boyfriend with? If not, I’ll take car game suggestions as a back-up.


Cricket McRae said...

There's a bar down the road where they play "chicken sh*t bingo". Probably a bit different than your avian friend in Rapid City, though.

Have a great time!
Hearth Cricket

Keith Raffel said...

Your boyfriend is going with you even though you have woodticks on your back? Brave fellow. :-)

Julia Buckley said...

Devil's Tower! Have you been making the shape of it in your mashed potatoes? (I'm hoping some people my age will get that reference).

What a great vacation! And what lovely country you'll be driving through. Steve will have a blast, and you'll all have terrific memories. Good for you for getting everyone out of the house.

Darrell James said...

The only raod trip game I remember is "My Cow". Then again you really have to reach to entertain yourself growing up in Kentucky.

Jess Lourey said...

Maybe I'll leave Steve and the kids in the car with the windows cracked and a bag of Cheet-os and find a game of chickensh*t bingo to play.

Darrell, I think they play that game in Wisconsin, too:

"What's that?"
"My cow."


Keith, they're metaphorical woodticks. Julia, yes, Devil's Tower mashed potatoes! Ha. :)

Alan Orloff said...

Great stuff! My family went cross-country about four years ago. We did Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Yellowstone, Deadwood, the Badlands, Wall, etc. All the tourist traps and it was great! (Somehow, though, we missed that chicken!) You'll have a great time, too.

Terri Bischoff said...

Our road trips to visit family are dominated by the portable DVD player. We try to hold off as long as we can, but I turn it on at the first "no, stop touching me!" Noah is fascinated with his cousin's DS, so I imagine that is in our future...

G.M. Malliet said...

Julia - I got the Devil's Tower reference!

Jess, this does not sound like a relaxing vacation, but it does sound like fun.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Jess, you and your boyfriend are both batshit crazy for taking this trip. (Remember, I don't have any kids and believe that's what summer Y-camps are for.) Then again, if Steve makes it through, get down on one knee and propose to him, cause he's a keeper.

We took road trips when I was a kid and they were ALL disasters. No wonder I prefer the open road when I'm alone in the car.

And yes, I remember the mashed potato edition of Devil's Tower. ;)

Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Jess,
Sounds like a great road trip! We always had a great time on our summer road trips with our kids. We never tried to drive more than 500 miles in a day and stopped each day soon enough for a dip in the motel pool before dinner.

I had a stash of car snacks, some healthy and some not, but all interesting and out-of-the-ordinary. I'd reveal a new one each day. Also, I went to the educational toy store in town before the trip and bought little workbooks, magnetic games, etc. and would bring one of those out each day for the kids, too. We played the car games you've heard of, too, like license plate tag and "I Spy."

I also got a AAA trip tik for each trip so the kids could keep track of where we were and one of us could read out loud the information off them and out of the AAA travel book about the area we were traveling through. The important thing is to keep it fun, enjoy the journey (not just the destinations), and rest and get out of the car often.

Where are you rafting in Colorado? Any chance you'll be coming through Colorado Springs?

Jess Lourey said...

Sue Ann, I've never called you a liar.

Those are great suggestions, Beth! I also have a grocery bag full of individually wrapped crabby prizes. If the kids can go four hours without fighting, they get to grab a crabby prize. I'll add your suggestions to our list!