Forced Planning

So, tonight I guilted Benjamin into helping me plan this summer’s road trip. I wish I had someone who enjoyed playing maps like I do. That’s what I call it — “Playing Maps”. I used to play maps even before there was the Web. I tell Benjamin how I used to plan road trips before Google Maps — or even Alta Vista — existed. I used the big printed Rand McNally United States Road Atlas, and I wrote down the miles between each marker along the highways, those tiny, red numbers, and I added them all together to find the distances between places, and I did it barefoot through the snow, uphill both ways. I had columns of numbers written in a notebook that I added up to find the mileage for the trip. I used a highlighter, too.

Benjamin and Darla Kay at the Grand Canyon

We park, Benjamin jumps out and runs up to the edge of the Grand Canyon and says, Mom, you're gonna want a picture of this!

Then, I remind him of the Webelos Traveler’s Badge; he loves the badges. And then I say, if he doesn’t want to plan it, he must not want to go. Finally, he settles down, and we delve back in. And then he usually starts to enjoy it. The first thing we did was to find all the places we want to go. I use the word “all” loosely. We constantly find more places to go. Now, I guess the really first thing was to choose a direction. We chose west. We want to see our California relatives. It’s been a while.

So I Google “Utah dinosaur museum”, “California dinosaur museum”, “Arizona dinosaur museum”…… You get the picture. We also Google science centers, 1800s farms, ligers, and the Redwoods. Terry likes the old farms, and Benjamin has recently become enthralled with ligers. We found a zoo in Reno, Nevada that has a liger, so we put that on our map. We look at the web pages for the museums, zoos, and science centers. Benjamin mainly wants to see their gift shop pages.

We put all the places on a Google Map as we find them. There will be some that we won’t be able to make it to. That part is always hard on us, Benjamin and me. Terry doesn’t really care.

The next step is to find the mileage between them and, if it’s too much, find a place in between where we can stop. We’ll use the total miles to get an idea of what we’ll be spending in gas and also to see if the trip as planned is even feasible. This is the part we’re working on now for RoadTrip 2012. We’re almost back home.

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