Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Map Time

The license plate game. 
Didn't we all play this as a child when we went on long road trips with our family?
When everyone piled into the car. 
The car that may or may not have had working A/C. 
DVDs and streaming movies did not exist in my childhood. 
We didn't even have computers that could print off coloring pages or lists of things. 
Coloring books, pads of blank papers, and my mom's handwritten lists got us there in a remotely sane fashion. 
When we drove to Florida from Illinois my brother and I had our imaginations to get us there without driving our parents bonkers. 
Which may not have worked when, as soon as we got to the ocean, my dad locked the keys in the car. 
He had driven right onto the sand and we all hopped out in true Griswold family stye and he forgot about his keys in the ignition. 
At least he had it in Park. 

But, my mom did try to keep us occupied on long road excursions. 
She would make lists of things for us to look for and mark off of the paper she had handed us at mile marker 57. 
So, I would fashion a blanket around my side of the backseat and over my head. 
I would briefly roll the window down to tuck the end in. 
Briefly, because if the window was down too long my mom would yell "roll that window up!  My hair is flying all over my face!"
I would have my backseat tent area all set up. 
And my brother better not get into my space because I wasn't afraid to scream. 
I would have my list in my lap looking for...
red barn
truck pulling boat
blue motorcycle 
cloud shaped like a tv...
And when that game was over, my mom would whip out her list of states. 
We were to look for their license plates as my dad rolled along the interstate. 

In this 21st century world my kids get to grow up in, they don't understand hours of boredom. 
They have car DVD players. 
An iPad and portable DS game players to keep them thoroughly occupied when traveling across the great U.S. of A. 
But, I do want them to look out the car windows. 
To see America's landscapes. 
To see the giant roadside stand called Boomland. 
Where you can buy fireworks, snacks, AND home decor. 
To see bridges and cotton growing in the field. 
To see the mighty and marvelous Mississippi River and the churning Gulf Coast. 

I was pumped when I caught a Today Show segment pre-summer for a website called Mr Printables.
They had a map of our country with the names of the states and so I decided on a revamped version of the license plate game for our summer adventures. 
We traveled to all over Illinois, Southern Michigan, Northern Indiana, Western Tennessee, and Eastern Missouri. 
Each time we saw a license plate from another state we colored it in with a purple crayon. 
Traveling in Indiana afforded us the opportunity to see many plates from Canada. 
The highway that travels through Northern Indiana and on to Detroit leads right to Canada. 
So we got to color in the top of our map which, for us, represented another country. 
We found 40 states during our summer travels. 
We even saw a Washington DC plate, which I've never seen on the road that I can recall. 
We had friends visit our farm from Vermont, but they had a rental car with Ohio plates. 
Go figure. 

We never saw Massachusetts
New Hampshire 
South Dakota 
do western staters ever leave home?
Or Alaska and Hawaii. 
I don't think I've ever seen a Hawaii license plate on the mainland, but I was certain we would see Alaska. 
Darn it. 
Maybe next summer. 

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