Every July in the hills of France, there is a famous bike race called Tour De France.
Every June in the cornfields of Missouri, there is an equally famous bike race called Tour De Corn.
If you would have shown up to East Prarie, Missouri between the years of 2008-2012, you would have seen me, my brother Caden, and my parents competing as if we were in France.
My parents always did cool trips like the Tour De Corn with us. One of my favorite vacations was to French Lick, Indiana. What exactly is there in French Lick, Indiana, you might ask.
The main attraction was a completely decked-out drive-in movie theatre. You could have found the Huntley family sitting in the back of our infamous car, eating trail mix, and watching Cars.
The drive-in movie, although it blew my middle school mind, wasn’t what made it my favorite trip though. It’s always the space in between planned activities that officially distinguishes trips.
We had arrived at the drive-in movie two hours too early due to the confusing time zones in Indiana. We didn’t want to go back to the hotel, so we pulled two t-shirts out of our luggage, grabbed the baseball mitts that seemed to come with us everywhere, and played an impromptu and intense two-hour game of Hotbox. Hotbox, where one player is purposefully stuck between two bases, as if they had been stealing, and must confuse the two field players into gaining a base. To this day, I still contribute those intense games (that oftentimes ended with Caden running me over) to my excellent base-stealing percentages in softball.
There had also been a pretty crowded arcade across the street from the movie theatre as well we could have gone inside. My parents never raised Caden and me to use technology as a crutch though, just an asset. I didn’t know what Instagram was until I was a freshman in high school, but I wrote my first 100-page book on my Lenovo computer that couldn’t connect to the internet as an eight-year-old.
Caden gets ridiculed by his friends for never having picked up a video game controller before, but he is just finishing creating his own social media platform to share travel locations and tips.
It’s not that either of these things are inherently bad, it’s just that they believed there were things that were more inherently good. Like biking. And corn.
This is why the only thing I can think of when I start my descent into Paris and see the rotating light reflexing off the Eiffel Tower – is corn. Driving four hours so deep into cornfields our GPS stopped working and we thought we were goners, staying at a motel with one floor filled with bikers, almost crashing because corn stalks got into our chain, and eating that sweet, sweet watermelon at the end of the 15-mile race. I continue to wear the event shirt to this day, of the ultimate weird vacation.
Despite my parents being “old” (a self-prescribed term), they continue to do these trips.
Oftentimes when I look at the calendar and see my diminishing weeks left in Europe, I become anxious. I wanted to see so many other cities and countries and experience all the cultures remotely close to Madrid.
My mom visited Caden in Morocco three years ago, and both my parents just made the long trek out to Madrid for a week. The first time my dad left the country was at 64 years old to visit me in Madrid. So although I have the sense of the clock racing against me and want to experience everything possible now, I know I’ll get to continue doing these trips long into my future.
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