The car that took me to Newark airport this morning picked me up a 4AM. There's not a lot to do at 4AM except sit there and hope the driver stays awake.
By the time we got on the NJ Turnpike the sun was starting to rise and I was treated to the most spectacular sunrise I may have ever seen. Not that I've seen a lot of sunrises, but you get the idea. The sky was blood red over Manhattan and everywhere else it was the typical pale blue of a summer twilight. Amazing.
Looking out the window it occurred to me that I learned to travel from the wayback of a Ford Country Squire station wagon, so entertainment was a completely private event. The music coming from the 6x9 speaker was like 8 feet away, and well, it was AM so it was probably a good thing I couldn't hear it. Basically I was left to be entertained by whatever was out the window of my spacious Ford wagon. A place that soon became a mini Amtrak Vista Dome Car perfect for sightseeing. No DVDs, reading was an invitation to the upchuck zone, as my older brother would attest after eating all those apples in Vermont, and frankly there are only so many license plates you can look at.
It was me and the factories of Union County New Jersey, the pines of my own home county, or the Spanish Moss of South Carolina. The birthplace of a fertile imagination and a contented, eager traveler.
Thank God I grew up in a time where every little bit of my impatience wasn't catered to by over-indulgent parents. My father would pull the car over and my mother would not tolerate acting up. It was games and impressions (my Frank Sinatra was born in that same station wagon was I was like 11 - must've been traveling at night).
Traveling is a gift that no SpongeBob cartoon can replace. Hit the road families of America, turn the DVD players off and tell the little brats to look out the window - they'll thank you for it thirty years from now.