Friday, August 3, 2012

Toilet roulette and road trips

We all know how fond of road trips I am. I see them as the last great travel method (apart from trains which I love). When I think about the road trips I've taken I always have a smile on my face. Don't get me wrong, there are portions of these trips I am sure that my brain has deliberately suppressed- the mind numbing stretches of straight road and more recently the kids niggling each other as we get close to the 10 minute concentration span they currently possess. So we have developed different ways to pass the time in the car  to ensure my blood pressure stays at a reasonable level.

Before I do that lets picture this  : Grand Pa on the Go and the family driving through The Death Valley into Nevada and to keep us entertained ( there were no radio stations) constantly re playing  Sesame Street cassette tapes that we could sing along to.

All 9 of them. Over and Over. Here's an updated version of one of these little treasures

How my parents stayed sane still mystifies me to this day. I see this as the true definition of hard core parenting.

image courtesy of

If you wish to avoid this and are not interested in an in-car DVD's (or hard core parenting ) you need car games. Here's just two that we use :

The test of Patience - See how many games of eye spy you can play before you lose it completely.
The Crudity test - How many number plates you can turn into words before you resort to vulgar or slang words.
You get the idea.

Many years ago Grand Pa on the Go decided that we were all going to go to Noosa Heads. He was to attend a conference and we would stay on for a while as a family holiday.
This was back way , way, way before it became the thriving Mecca for tourists it is today.  The plan was simple we would drive up the Newell Highway on the way there to arrive quickly and come back along the coast on the way home.

Imagine my delight when I was told I was to sleep on the couch in the living room. Right in front of the TV.  Nothing can go wrong, its bolted to the wall - right ?

I'm sure my disappointment was evident when he trotted off to the car and produced a set of spanners, unbolted the TV, wheeled it into their room leaving me alone in the dark. It still ended up a great holiday and due to the very large pile of beach towels strategically placed between my sister and I by our wise parents the trip home was fine and by now we had graduated to the soundtrack of Grease - The movie.

One of the other treats of the road trip is discovering things. Like discovering that the red food dye in skittles made the Eldest break out in hives. A short trip to a doctors and some anti-histamines rectified this and we soon were back on our way.

Toilet stops are an inescapable part of the travel. You can say 100 or even 1000 times to your children - "take it easy and don't drink that 600ml Coke/Big M/ Gatorade all in one go"

 OR you could just not let them have it.

But for a father of my considerable experience , that's just the easy way out. I like the challenge of the roadside toilet roulette.

image courtesy of

There is nothing like pulling up to a toilet like the one above and opening the door for the first time and in that split second working out  how bad you really have to go. The beloved has passed on many occasions.

The reality of these trips is you will see more of Australia than you ever will by strapping yourself in a giant steel tube and allowing some guy you don't know hurtle you through the air at in-human speeds, to then bounce your way to another place.

And with all the global turmoil and strife sometimes the simple act of taking a photo of the kids, standing next to a roadside marker that was left behind by Bourke and Wills, and the expression on their faces expresses the true gravity and boredom excitement of the moment, is sometimes just priceless.

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