Josh and I know that a lot of families–including ours–take road trips. And we also know that road trips can be supremely boring for kids. We wrote a story for Unbored (see pages 338-339) about how to make them more fun that was based on some long drives we’d done with our own families.
We recently wrote another story on the same subject for Slate. But this time we added some cool road trip apps that we especially like. My favorite is Roadside America, which you can use to point you toward quirky places you might otherwise overlook. Earlier this summer on a drive to Lake Superior, RA helped me learn the history of Pierre The Pantsless Voyageur. (His tunic goes down to the middle of his thighs–apparently his creator decided he didn’t need pants.) I’d driven by this 20-foot-tall statue probably 50 times and never given it more than a huh.
Now I know that Pierre used to move his head and talk, thanks to an employee in a hidden booth at the motel where he stands. I also know that his paddle was stolen. The nerve! If you think this is useless information, it’s better than watching a video as you breeze by one of the world’s most magnificent bodies of water.
Last week, my family and I drove from the edge of Canada back home to Minneapolis. Thanks to RA, We took a quick stop in the town of Ely, MN to check out the Dorothy Molter Museum, which is a log cabin that’s been moved into town from the remote Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Dorothy was the last person to live there year round (it’s now a protected wilderness) and she was famous for brewing her own root beer and offering it to canoeists who paddled by. In case you can’t tell, I love local history.
P.S. Did you know that European kids generally hate root beer? Not having grown up with it, they think it tastes like medicine.