The scene: Summer of 2016. The McAskill family was embarking on their first family road trip together, armed with nothing but their wits, a borrowed selfie-stick, and a 2016 Acura MDX. Get up to speed with part 1 here.
Why We Felt Guilty
Five states, two pit stops, one van fire, and 17 hours later we found ourselves driving down a dark, narrow, trash and needle-strewn alley in search of my wife’s cousin’s apartment.
The funny thing is – it really wasn’t as bad as it might sound. The key was our trusty steed; the MDX.
Normally, this would be the part where I’d go on and on about the Acura MDX’s highway manners (comfortable and confidence-inspiring), or the litany of safety features (reassuring and unobtrusive), or the gas mileage (not too bad considering how loaded up we had it); but the number one, absolute best thing the MDX provided us was: Parental guilt.
We popped in DVD after DVD and charged iPad after iPad only to be rewarded with complete silence from the rear two-thirds of the vehicle. We made attempts to point out interesting things along the way – state signs, shrubbery, rivers, roadkill, stray goats – but just as quickly as we seized their attention, the boys were drawn back to one screen or another.
This of course allowed mom and dad hours of uninterrupted karaoke courtesy of the 90’s on 9 Sirius XM station.
Maybe I should feel guiltier about this than I do. But I can tell you that 17-hour highway marathon went a helluva lot smoother than it would have otherwise.
It was the potent combination of comfortable cruising, dependable safety features, respectable efficiency, and cornucopia of family-friendly tech that had all of us looking nearly as forward to spending time INSIDE the MDX as OUTSIDE of it.
As such, our already improvised route was constantly in flux as we found more and more excuses to drive out of our way. From D.C. we headed to the suburbs outside of Philadelphia for a couple days. Then it was out west to Pittsburgh for three more.
The kids had gotten so used to eating up such large chunks of mileage and time in the MDX that at the conclusion of on 15-minute errand run, my youngest exclaimed, “That’s it? I don’t want to get out yet!”
Finally, the time had come for the final trek into Cumberland, MD. We arrived without incident of course, and happily spent the next four days hiking up mountains, thrashing forest trails on ATVs, catching up with, and celebrating with our family.
We were becoming acclimated once again to NOT spending every other day within the confines of our loaned Acura. However, the trip had to come to a close. Reality had begun to seep back in the form of e-mails, laundry, and cravings for some of our local fare. It was time to head home.
However, the MDX had one more parting gift for us.
Is the Acura MDX the Answer to All Your Family Road Trip Worries?
With the money we’d saved over purchasing plane tickets, we decided to treat ourselves to a one-night stay at The Great Wolf Lodge just outside Charlotte, N.C. After a week of being surrounded by family, yet feeling a little distant from our own, it ended up being exactly what we needed right when we needed it.
And really, that seemed to be the theme of our entire escapade. The route. The stops. The Acura MDX. It all fell into place perfectly.
Now, I won’t sit here and tell you that the secret to a successful family road trip is flying by the seat of your pants until a brand-new, fully-loaded SUV falls into your lap – although that definitely worked out well for us.
But my advice to others like me – to whom the thought of stuffing your kids into an enclosed space for hours on end sounds like nightmare fuel – is to please remove the stick up your rear, and throw the car into gear.
A family road trip will change how you all interact, what you talk about, and will provide the mental pictures and memories that first spring to mind when you reminisce about the “good times.”
The real secret behind a successful family road trip is to just take one.
And lots of Pixar DVDs.