The Smell of the Picnic Basket


I get car sick. I have for as long as I can remember. My mom made it a point to take us on at least one quick road trip a month and at least one or two big ones annually. I’ve called my mom many times thanking her for all the trips she took us on now that I realize how much work it is to go camping or to the gas station with a kid, she did it with two and she did it by herself. I saw Mount Rushmore, San Francisco, Seattle, Yellowstone and so many more places with my mom. No corner of Southern Utah was left undiscovered by me. We drove everywhere we went (except for the one time we went to Hawaii) which meant that I spent a lot of time in the back seat of our non air conditioned Toyota Corona passed out thanks to Dramamine. However, the one thing I remember with perfect clarity about our road trips was the smell of the picnic basket as it was my job to grab snacks out of it for my mom and sister in the front seat.

The smell still haunts me to this day and I’m left wondering what Addie will remember about our road trips.

My mom always made a batch of blueberry muffins and brought along a loaf of bread and peanut butter so we could eat at the side of the road. We rarely ever ate out on our road trips, my mom was an expert at packing food…and in my eight year old mind she was an expert at packing really smelly food. On our cross country drive from Indiana to Utah last year I asked Cody what road trips were like when he was a kid. His were pretty similar to mine, smelly picnic basket, roadside stops and a cooler full of water bottles and Capri-Sun. We both talked about how many times we were left eating peanut butter and jelly on toast since the dry desert air would suck every bit of moisture out of our bread within moments of leaving the bag.

Next week we’re packing up the car and driving as far South as we can to Florida for our first real family vacation, ever. We’ve gone to Disneyworld but brought my parents along, we’ve gone back home to Utah but we stay with family. We’ve gone on a few weekend trips to Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville but never with Vivi in tow. I have very low expectations as I know if I build it up in my head it’s just going to be a giant disappointment. But a week together with just us. Our little family, eating sandwiches out of the back of the car and drinking Capri-Sun.

I won’t have to take Dramamine since I’m the grown up and get to sit in the front these days, Addie has a DVD player and we certainly won’t have a stale muffin scented picnic basket. I wonder what Addie will remember about this trip 20 years from now and I hope they’re good memories, I’m going to do my best to make sure they are.

What do you remember most about family vacations?

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