Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yellow car! I win!

The western part of the United State of America is a big place. When you look on a map of the USA, you see all these big states, most with straight lines for borders. Then you look to the east and see all these funky shaped states--many much smaller than what is found out west. Heck, one of my daughters even pointed to Rhode Island once and said, "Aw, how cute! A baby state!" (No offense intended to those wonderful folks in RI)
My mother's parents (my grandparents) lived about four hours north of where I grew up in Utah. So, how do you entertain four small children on such a long trip? And remember, this was before the invention of the DVD players. You play games!
One game we would play is the alphabet game. Basically, someone would say "go!" and then the game was on. The object was to find signs or words on cars that contained the letter of the alphabet you were on. You had to say the name of the letter, point to it if you could (not a good idea if you are the driver) and then what the word it was in. For example: "C, (point to the sign) Salt Lake City!"
Once someone used a word, no one else could use it. As you can imagine, we would get stuck on J, Q and Z. You would think "X" would be tough, but with all the exit signs, it was one of the easier ones. I still remember "Zims"--a store in SLC that would be a great place to win the game.
When I traveled from Utah to Buffalo, NY for my internship, I drove alone. That was a long trip. I played the alphabet game a couple of times, and then decided to make it harder. I played the number game. The goal was to go from 1 to 100--and to make it more of a challenge, the numbers had to be by themselves; they couldn't be part of a larger number. Two days and who knows how many miles later, I finished the game. I even pulled off the side of the road and did a little dance (driving alone for that long when you are not use to it can make you do odd things).
Taking a trip last year to Atlanta with just my wife, during the six hour drive we got a little silly. There were these billboards that said in big letters: "Donate your boat!" So, every time we saw a boat being pulled, or parked on the side of a street, we'd point to it and yell, "Donate your boat!"--sometimes with a Scottish accent. (Things happen like that when you are being silly)
In Connecticut, I would drive my kids to school. If for no other reason, to be able to spend some time with them during those forever days. To keep them from bothering each other, we would play all sorts of different games. One was the fire hydrant game. Simple rules, really: count all the fire hydrants you can--everyone helps look for them and as a group, and we saw how many we could find.
Our latest game? If you see a yellow car, you point to it and say, "Yellow car! I win!" I'm not sure exactly what you win--perhaps some parting gifts like Rice-a-roni (the San Francisco treat) and a home version of the game. Granted, there are not a lot of yellow cars inside my house.

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