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The Popcorn Connection

The Finest of Times


Many articles of mine refer to the numerous trips and vacations taken by my family while my sister and I were growing up. My father was a veritable nut about going places… and neither my sister not myself were all that gung-ho about traveling – especially by car, but air travel for families hadn’t really been “invented” yet. Even if it were available, we would have been unable to afford it; we didn’t have a lot of what would today be referred to as “disposable income”.  So we went by car. My mom saved pennies for a whole year to help pay for motels. Our air conditioning was an open window and all the roads were two-laners with little traffic; the Interstate Highway system was years away.

Games? My sister and I often occupied ourselves with a car game called Zingo (a sort of road bingo where one needed to locate certain objects seen along the way) or we practiced our reading skills by reading all of the Burma Shave signs and billboards along the roads. I also got pretty good at reading road maps. That was about it… and sometimes it got pretty boring. To be sure, we did have fun. But it was a different kind of fun, since AM radio was the extent of our technology. When I wasn’t sleeping to pass the time, all I could ever say was: "Are we there yet?" or "I'm bored" or “How much farther?” If I said those things once, I said them a million times!

Today’s world is much different, but one thing remains the same: families still travel. And whether you're traveling from Toledo to Toronto, from Indianapolis to International Falls, or just trying to pass the time on a rainy day in your cabin or tent, a lot more is available today to keep everyone from becoming bored. My first suggestion would be an audio book or two. Available though iTunes and other online sources, audio books can be informative as well as educational… and entertaining. They work well for those evenings or rainy days when flashlight tag is not possible. Hook up the iPod to your speakers and let the whole family listen…

Even though it was a great car game, a slightly different version of Zit Zingo is still available… Although many prefer it, lots of things are better – and less distractive to the driver – than movies in the car. However, check out our list of car and other games to help everyone pass the time.

Lots of folks are taking their personal computers along on vacations. The good news is that many destinations now offer WiFi; it’s easy to connect to get work done. But also consider using the DVD player that comes pre-installed on most new machines to play your favorite movie at night in your room or cabin. Add a bowl of popcorn and it’s just like being at the movies… only cheaper!

If you prefer high-tech radio, try SiriusXM Radio. Many new cars come with it already installed; reception is available anywhere. But it also makes for a multitude of possibilities – whether you’re on the lake, in a tent, in a cabin or on the road. Our favorite is Old Time Radio and the great stories from yesteryear.

R. Karl



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