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Travels with 'Auntie'

Young relatives endure family road trip
Lead Summary
Brenda Winter, columnist

Because my husband and I no longer have children of our own to subject to long, unbearable car trips, we borrowed a niece and a nephew for a drive to Denver to visit our daughter and their cousin.
Technology has lessened the misery of car trips considerably, but even technology has its limits.
We were nine hours into the 10-hour drive back home. Both kids, ages 12 and 8, had traveled like rock stars.
But …
The tablets and iPods and iPads and pod pads and pad pods had all worn thin.
It was time to go “old school.”
We started with state capitals. My niece was shocked and amazed to learn I was the 1974 girls’ champion “state capital knower” of Mrs. Mulford’s Luverne Elementary School fifth-grade class.
“Pfft. Montpelier.”
“Duh. Dover.”
(yawn) “Boston.”
We moved on to math problems which piqued the interest of the math whiz nephew.
“What’s 12 times 12?”
Pausing briefly, he replied with the correct answer. Again and again, he stunned his aunt and uncle with his brilliance.
The game ended when his sister revealed that he was using a calculator.
We moved on to singing cowboy songs, some of which were sung in this spring’s school concert. At the top of our lungs we belted out the American classics, “Home on the Range,” “Red River Valley” and “You Are My Sunshine.”
We moved on to “Stupid Songs on Spotify” (which we did not have 20 years ago, by the way.)
“Elvira! Elvira! My heart’s on fire for Elvira!”
“Me and Charlotte Johnson on the front porch on a swing - just a swingin’!”
I watched the plains of South Dakota flash by the windows as we traveled through the beautiful rolling hills and thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Before we knew it, we were at the Luverne exit and then driving north on Highway 75.
Parked in their driveway I turned to the children to say, “Gosh, that was fun…”
But they were gone. They’d run into the house faster than a pair of South Dakota jackrabbits.
“…we’ll have to do it again sometime?”

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