Road Kill

IMG_0017A truly depraved game to play with your children.

My family plays a game in the car that can only be called “Road Kill.” The object of the game is simple: Spot the road kill from a moving vehicle before the other occupants, and you get a point.

This game arose not because we have a particular affinity (or sympathy) for road kill, but because we are so competitive that we can’t take even a five-minute car ride without fighting tooth and nail for supremacy.

You’d think I’d have the advantage in this game because I am usually the one driving, but this is not the case. I’ve found that the act of paying attention to traffic, stop lights, and exit ramps sadly detracts from my Road Kill performance. The rules do benefit me some, though, being the driver. If we drive over a skunk that is already dead, I get the point. If we actually hit an animal of some kind, I get that point, too, but I may not hit one on purpose.

(Before you get up in arms, let me inject that I have never hit an animal on purpose, nor tried to hit an animal on purpose, and in fact, have hit very few animals. Once, a squirrel. Once an armadillo, and let me tell you, that’s a little like running over a football helmet that still has a head in it.)

The rules of Road Kill evolve during play. (A camel is 50 points. A human is 1,000,000.) We keep a running total until someone is so far ahead that the rest of us have no hope of winning, and then we start another round.

While it has provided hours of amusement opportunity for us to battle, there are some unhappy side effects of this game. Most notably, you start to witness the ill effects suffered by the roadside dead if they remain for a few days. Hot, humid weather has a particularly unfortunate effect. And you start to notice when it is taking your local municipality a little too long to pick the stuff up. (“Were all the road kill picker-uppers on vacation last week, or what?”)

And I’m guessing the inevitable winter will put a damper on the game. It’s hard to spot road kill that’s covered in snow. We might have to develop a new game. Perhaps “spot the slipping pedestrian.”

No animals were harmed in the writing of this post. I mean it!

Vacation mishaps

2012-08-14_15-39-33_376All families take that vacation – the one that makes them rethink the whole togetherness thing. When I was a kid, ours was a rather spectacular trip through Lake Mead on a house boat where we were treated to unforgettable views, pristine water, and quiet, star-filled nights.

Unfortunately, we also broke a propeller, and my grandmother’s toe. My sister and I were cursed with a bad case of sun-poisoning – our Midwestern hides were not ready for the blazing sky. The bats swooped right up to the open windows at night scaring us senseless. And the low point of this trip – a scene none of us can forget – was an unfortunate malfunction while pumping the septic tank that resulted in several of us being covered with…well, you know.

But I don’t think that was our worst mishap. On one of our trips across the desert, I watched a set of borrowed tent poles fall off the back of the car as I dozed in the back. My father reacted to my screams by swerving onto the shoulder. As he swerved, a suitcase also fell, right into the path of an approaching semi. It was spared, somehow, but the images are seared in my brain.

My trips with my own kids have been surprisingly mishap-free (knock wood) although my husband and I had a bank “helpfully” suspend our credit card while we were at a resort in Mexico on our first kid-free trip in a decade. The resort was convinced we were trying to pull something during the day or so it took us to straighten it out. Apparently, we had been alone together so few times since our kids were born our trip triggered a fraud alert.

What was your worst vacation mishap? Send me your story. I’ll repost the best ones, and if you’re a blogger, include a link to your blog.

 

Four business rules to use when you travel with kids

In the past four years, we’ve driven over 6500 miles with our kids. Sound like a living nightmare? Strangely, it’s not. My kids are good travelers. But I’ve also put some rules in place that make things go a lot more smoothly.

  • Have an agenda. Kids don’t like ambiguity. Actually, neither do most adults. I always map our route and make our hotel reservations in advance. Even though it takes some time upfront it’s a great relief to have a plan when we get in the car and I’ve found it contributes greatly to marital harmony. (Of course you don’t want to talk to me in those days I’m making arrangements. Crabby.)
  • Use a repeatable process. Years ago I decided I couldn’t pack for five people.  I made a list (yes, it’s in Excel) that we use every year when we pack. I hand the kids the list, they gather their stuff and I give it a quick check before they put it in their suitcases. During the trip, I keep note of things we could’ve used and things we forgot and add them to the spreadsheet when we get home. That way I’m ready for the next trip.
  • Give them a budget. I don’t know about you, but my least favorite part of the trip is the begging. You know, for every piece of junk or trinket they see along the route. I no longer want to police their purchases. Nor do I want to feel like a human ATM machine. I put aside an envelope with cash in it for each child. Once we’re on the road, they’re free to spend it on whatever they like – but once it’s gone, it’s gone. It usually takes one episode of buyer’s remorse for them to get the hang of it, but once you get through that it’s a great system.
  • Make a two-year plan. This is my best tip of all. If you can, have your next year’s trip in mind while you’re on the road. We typically travel the same way (west) which makes it easy. Along the way, I pick up maps and information on interesting site and activities. When we get home I have a folder full of stuff for my next year’s planning.

We’re gearing up for another trip in August. And I’m planning to enjoy it.

Have any tips for travel? Send them to sarah@dayonebusinesssevices.com – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.