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Driving to vacations spots with no Wi-Fi and TVs

  • Written by Joe Boyle

The Chicago Auto Show has just rolled out of the city. A variety of vehicles were on display and the annual event again drew large crowds that come to stare at the latest models.

Of course, there are people who attend the auto show with the sole purpose of buying a new car, truck or SUV. I was never one of them. The vehicles on display are interesting to look at. We can all fantasize when we get behind the steering wheel.

But after about an hour or so, I tended to get bored. I was not going to buy any of these cars because none of them were in my price range. So, after a while it just becomes kind of futile. It’s like going to a party that you were not invited to.

Hey, I like new cars. I’m amazed at the features these vehicles have. Newer vehicles can park themselves. And to think I used to agonize over learning to parallel park when I was in driver’s ed in high school. Learning to parallel park in Chicago was necessary when I was in high school. Living in the suburbs where many of the homes have driveways means that I’m a little rusty with that skill.

But with newer cars, you don’t have to worry about that. Many vehicles have been equipped with TVs for some time now. Wi-Fi is becoming a standard feature in most vehicles. I think it’s great, that is if you can afford it. When I look at the prices of a lot of new vehicles today, it would probably be better to put money down for a house.

In the long run, it might be a better investment. The main problem with a new car is that as soon as you drive it out of a lot, it depreciates in value.

My philosophy is to get as much mileage out of my car as possible. I’m actually driving a car right now that has become extinct. My 2002 Saturn sedan still rides well. The heat works fine during the winter and the air conditioning will keep me cool when it gets hot again. The radio works and so do the speakers. I still have a CD player and I often listen to CDs on my way home from work.

Heck, about 20 years ago what I have in my car would be big deal. Now when I enter a new car, I’m sort of lost perusing through the interior. Vehicles have so many additional accessories that it’s hard to find everything.

When I was young and would go on vacations during the summer with my family, we did not have TVs in the car. To make the time pass as we traveled to either Michigan or Wisconsin, we would play a game where we would count gas stations. One sibling would be on the other side of the car counting how many they could see. Another sibling might work as sort of an intermediary, checking to see if we are accurately counting the gas stations.

Yes, there were some disputes. Sometimes I saw gas stations that didn’t exist. Hey, sometimes we just made it up. We were having fun but we could be competitive. But it was a way of passing time on roads leading up to cabins or houses that our family would stay in for a week. When we would go to places like northern Wisconsin, the best thing was to just go to sleep for a while. But with three brothers and two sisters, it was usually a little too loud.

Looking back at those days, I felt sorry for my father and mother. Dealing with a carload of kids who would get cranky must not have always been fun. I suppose my dad could have used those TVs in the back. But you don’t miss what you don’t have. For the most part we had fun. The landscape offered more than gas stations. We would see horses at stables and cows on farms. Those were sights we did not see in our Chicago neighborhood back at home.

My dad had a radio in the car. It was nothing special and this was in the days when it was strictly AM. Sometimes he might be listening to a talk show or a ballgame. Often he had the volume down low and tried to conduct a conversation with my mother.

That’s another reason we were loud in the car. We had to talk louder because the windows were mostly likely open. Air-conditioning was not featured in most cars in the mid-1960s. Depending on how far we were traveling, my dad would be listening to a ballgame that would begin to fade out, or blend in with another local station.

We could hardly wait to drive up to our vacation spot. We would swim, fish and play board games. These places usually did not have TVs. We would keep each other company. I guess that is one advantage of having a big family.

Rather than having TVs or Wi-Fi when we got to those vacation homes in our old Rambler., we had Clue, Life, Monopoly, the beach and each other.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reach at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .