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Are we there yet?

Laker Notes

KWARTLEREvery summer, thousands of American families create potholes and abuse freeways (and occasionally each other) as they “hit the road.” Thus, they begin one of the riskiest forms of vacationing: Road Trips.

A Road Trip is like “Survivor”: a family can either grow stronger together — or try to vote each other off.

Before the trip even begins, the family must pack the car. Unconstrained by an airline’s bag weight limits, the family feels an immense sense of power. Like our political parties, they believe that they can hide anything in the trunk. Unfortunately, a trunk can only hold so much before it pops open and the backseat suffers.

Next, the seating arrangement. The parents get the front for planning the vacation.

The kids get the backseat. The youngest gets sandwiched between the door and multiple bags, because that ensures his or her safety — or so the eldest claims. Then, roles are assigned. Shotgun is the navigator and to be blamed if anything goes wrong. The kids are in charge of finding food (since they are usually Yelping anyway). The driver controls the music.

But music is rarely the only entertainment. Even if it is the “Hamilton” CD, someone will get bored and utter the four worst words: Are we there yet? Beware! These words can slice through the car’s positive atmosphere like a knife or scissors (since both are allowed in cars). There are a couple of good responses to this question:

1. Quantitative and my parents’ favorite: “We have about 35 minutes (regardless of actual ETA).”

2. Politically minded: “We are as close as Bernie Sanders is to the Democratic nomination.”

3. Social media minded/no clue about the inner workings of social media: “Why don’t you tweet your Snapchat?”

4. Fairy tale minded: “Wow! That cow we just passed reminds me of Aunt Marilee, who turned into a cow after a Road Trip Fairy cursed her for asking, ‘Are we there yet?’”

Other forms of entertainment can include license plate analysis (the first to spot one from another solar system wins), story time (about dear Aunt Marilee) or backseat Shakespearean re-enactments (if Ashland can do it, so can you).

Your journey will include at least one bathroom stop, which means freeing the youngest from between the luggage and door without causing an avalanche. If you are not careful, any pit stop can become a tourist trap. From food to souvenirs, a roadside store’s distractions outnumber banned Russian Olympic athletes. The simplest way to ensure a quick stop is to require whoever returns to the car last to pay for the gas or switch seats with the youngest.

When you finally reach your destination after many 35 “minuteses” of arduous traveling, you may feel relieved. No more leg cramps, no more sing-alongs, no more Mars license plates and no more cows (unless you are driving to a ranch). As part of your Post-Traumatic Road Trip Stress, you may wonder why you didn’t just fly.

As your family stretches and groans about the drive, you’ll note that your family wasn’t avoiding TSA lines, but trying to spend time together. It is the journey that matters more than the destination.

Sarah Kwartler, a rising senior at Lake Oswego High School, is one of two Laker Notes columnists for The Review. Contact Kwartler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..