DFWChild / Articles / Uncategorized / Roadtrippin'


For anyone who’s celebrated their 40th birthday in the last five or so years, the name John Hughes deserves a special place in all of our hearts. After all, this was the genius who created the movies that defined our generation, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Home Alone and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. If there were a Mount Rushmore for movie making giants, John Hughes is my George Washington.
The true greatness of John Hughes movies is that they not only defined a generation filled with parachute pants, big hair and Molly Ringwald, but his movies also stand the test of time. Most of them are still laugh-out-loud funny. No matter how many times I see them – and I am the world record holder of re-watching John Hughes movies – they’re still greatness.
Although it’s a tough call, my favorite remains Vacation, the always hilarious film Hughes wrote and Chevy Chase made famous (or the movie that made Chevy Chase famous). For those of you reading this who haven’t seen Vacation, please leave our country immediately. As a quick refresher, Clark Griswald takes the family on a cross-country trek to Wally World. Along the way he gets lost in the most dangerous neighborhood in St. Louis, leaves his dead granny in a relative’s backyard and skinny dips with supermodel Christie Brinkley. And then at the end of their journey, Wally World is closed. Not one to be denied a day of family fun, Clark pulls a fake gun on the security guard (the late great John Candy) and he opens Wally World. And the story has a happy ending.
Yeah, it’s stupid fun. And it’s also disturbingly true. Despite Vacation being nearly 30 years old, it is practically a documentary of my last (and maybe last) road trip in the family truckster. It was a quick trip to Austin, three measly hours down I-35 with the family unit plus the mother-in-law and the dog. Yes, I said the mother-in-law. Shoot me. Wait, I meant to say the dog. Really.
There are three things to note when taking a road trip to Austin:
1)    Don’t do it.
2)    Don’t do it.
3)    Don’t do it.
Look into some cheap airfare instead. Southwest or American will get you door to door in less than 45 minutes. Considering the Earth-moving equipment I saw – none of it working when we drove by – they must be turning parts of I-35 into a super conducting super collider. Can you be hypnotized by the continuous site of orange barrels? Did it really take me five and a half hours to get to Georgetown? Was that a 72-year-old woman with a walker who just passed us? When or if the construction is ever completed, we’ll be wearing jetpacks, Jeb Bush will be in his second term and the Cowboys still won’t be a Super Bowl contender.
Like Clark Griswald, I like to make good time on road trips. So when the dog got the invite to come along, I knew my timetable was going to get a banana cream pie in the face. But since we were crawling at a snail’s pace, we could have held him outside the window to let him relieve himself.
When you drive almost anywhere in Texas, you know damn well you’re in Texas. First, there’s the constant Texas flags. No other state loves its state flag more than the Lone Star State. It’s pretty awesome actually. You’ll count more Texas flags than stars and stripes between here and Austin. I know since I set the over/under at 75 and we hit the over just outside Round Rock.
Another sign of a Texas road trip is water towers. Lots and lots of water towers. And many of those water towers boast about whatever 2A or 3A state championship they’ve won. Troy, Everman, Alvarado, West, Hillsboro, Temple … love them all and all the funky truck stops that come along the way. Speaking of which, no one does a better job with billboards than the greatest truck stop of them all, Buc-ee’s. Although there’s not a Buc-ee’s en route to Austin, I have experienced the brilliance of Buc-ee’s on my way to Houston. It’s the Magic Kingdom of highway retail glory.
At its core, the road trip hasn’t changed much in my lifetime. Sure, my kids wore seatbelts for the entire trip, unlike in my youth when my parents thought nothing of letting me play in the back of a station wagon wearing no restraint. And XM Radio sure makes the time pass better. But otherwise, this trip was like the countless roadies my dad took us on. French fries dropped between the seats. Check. Moronic drivers going too slow in the left lane. Check. Creepy truck drivers with creepy mustaches looking down at you as if they might suddenly change lanes just to goof with you. Check. And a McDonald’s fountain Coke to keep me on point. Check. Ok, so I went with a Coke Zero to watch my girlish figure while dear old dad never had that option (not that he would’ve taken it).
All said, road trips rock. Plenty of great bonding time with the family unit when I was able to pry their hands off their iPhone, iPods and iPads. Plenty of awesomely terrible fast food. Plenty of chances to dominate in the state capital game or license plate poker. Sure, I never saw a red Ferrari with a scorching hot blonde pull up next to me, but I did leave granny behind before the return trip. And, yes, she was still breathing fine.

Rudy lives in Flower Mound, works in Fort Worth and plays everywhere in between. He has one wife, one daughter, one son, one published book, one obsession with sports and 20 million observations on marriage and children. Follow him on Twitter: Manifesto10.