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Kathy Tofflemire, Published August 04 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Summer road trips just not the same

Last month my grandsons and their mother made a trip to Minot, N.D., to visit their grandfather.

This journey, not counting the Dairy Queen stop in Lakota, takes about 4½ hours.

A trip of this length, and the slightly shorter excursion we take to Minneapolis, require entertainment apparatus to keep the young travelers amused, including hand-held videogame devices and a DVD player with twin screens that hang from the back of the front seats. You just have to get the two boys to agree on what they’re going to watch.

When I was a child, we took annual vacations to visit relatives in southern Nebraska/northern Kansas – a trip that took nearly two days, with a stop for the night in Yankton, S.D. And what did I have for entertainment? My doll and some coloring books. Oh, and reading the Burma Shave slogan signs that Mom would point out along the way.

“My job is

Keeping faces clean

And nobody knows

De stubble

I’ve seen


A trip down U.S. Highway 83 through the Dakotas and the other prairie states is just miles and miles of unchanging scenery, so there’s not a lot of incentive to look out the window.

My one advantage, if you can call it that now that safety is a big issue, was I had the entire backseat of my dad’s Studebaker. I had my pillow and a blanket, and was in close proximity to the box of sandwiches, fruit and other food that Mom packed for the journey. No restaurant stops for us.

But before I can feel very sorry for myself, I think of a trip in a covered wagon my mother took as a child. My grandfather thought it would be good for my mom and her two brothers to see what pioneer travel was like. I don’t think the trip was a long one, but talk about an “Are we there yet?” experience.

The Burma Shave signs have been gone since the ’60s, so now I watch for Volkswagen Beetles on the highway.

A trip to Minneapolis over Memorial Day netted eight red, a blue, a blue and a blue (three different shades), two yellow, two orange, two green, a black, a silver and a gray.

The boys think it’s funny that I can still remember that after three months. Hey, I have to keep my aging brain engaged.

Travel entertainment has come a long way over the years. Even adults rarely go anywhere without their iPods and laptop computers.

And I have to admit that when I take a car trip alone, I bring along a stack of CDs – and I sing at the top of my lungs. Now that’s long-distance entertainment.

Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5514 or ktofflemire@forumcom.com