Disappearance of the Family Road Trip

Can we ever regain what was lost?

Sean Kernan
6 min readJun 21, 2024
One of the many road trips we took, with my sister and grandfather.

Every summer, we packed our busted up 1989 Plymouth reliant. It was a clunky, cramped vehicle that housed two parents and two kids on a trek from Virginia to Merritt Island, Florida, where my grandparents lived.

My parents concluded this trip could only be done in one day —or so you’d have thought — because hotels were a foreign concept. It made for a long 13 hours, though we generally shaved an hour or two off as dad sent our car screaming down I-95. I’m still in awe that we never got pulled over.

Sometimes, we shared the backseat with a dog who weighed 90 pounds and who wasn’t shy in letting you know he liked you.

Despite this chaos, we got a full snapshot of America on this drive — seeing the scenery evolve as we immersed ourselves in the moment. There was a spirit of adventure we embraced.

Shannon and I did the “honk” gesture to passing truck drivers, who sometimes startled us by obliging our request. We played card games and read books, avoiding the boredom these trips induced. We listened to audio books from the library, which consisted of 8 to 12 cassettes per book which we were constantly fumbling with as chapters ended.



Sean Kernan

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