Out of all the activities a family can engage in (camping, bicycle rides, knife-throwing), road trips are perhaps the most iconic, ubiquitous, and, dare we say, American. Moms deserve a lot of credit for these inspired outings, to be sure, but dear old Dad remains the most emblematic figure of the road trip experience.
In honor of Father's Day, we asked around for some of the most outrageous/classic things people's dads did (or said) on a childhood road trip. Here are 15 you can probably relate to.
REGARDING FOOD & DRINK
1. Stopped at random hole-in-the-wall places that barely resembled restaurants, claiming that they "built character" and insisting that you'd be thanking him one day.
2. Spit his gum out the window, only to have it fly back into the car and land in someone's hair/clothing.
3. Refused to ask for directions, relying on the outdated maps in the glovebox and his own locational intuition. This invariably led to a much longer trip than originally planned, which he chalked up to "taking a scenic route".
4. Barreled down the road at exactly 5mph above the speed limit, because it's "technically not speeding".
5. Insisted on driving the whole trip, day or night, because taking a nap while letting your Mom drive just didn't feel right.
6. Forced everyone to roll their windows down in the 100-degree heat instead of turning on the AC, because it was "more fuel efficient".
REGARDING BATHROOM STOPS
7. Raged against restroom pitstops, claiming they'd upset his carefully crafted timetable, before finally breaking down and pulling over on the side of the road. When asked about toilet paper, he pointed to the nearby bushes.
8. When the time came for him to answer nature's call, he'd use an empty coffee cup, ordering everyone to look out the window while simultaneously congratulating himself for being the only one who wasn't delaying the trip with unnecessary stops.
9. Threw said coffee cup out the window at the next available opportunity, usually resulting in the next car getting an unexpected acid wash.
REGARDING FAMILY BONDING
10. Kicked you and your brother out of the car in the middle of nowhere for fighting in the back seat (seemingly leaving you to die of starvation), only to pick you up 5 minutes later.
11. Demanded that everyone stop what they're doing and sing along every time "Fat-Bottomed Girls" came up in the rotation of his essential road trip cassettes, which it inevitably did once every hour or so.
12. Cracked terrible, punny dad-jokes for the express purpose of hearing everyone in the car groan in unison -- when asked "hey, you comfortable back there?", the only acceptable reply is "eh, I make a living".
REGARDING... BEING A DAD
13. Take a 45-minute detour just to get a photo of a giant ear of corn, a 70-foot prairie dog, or some other absurd roadside attraction.
14. Wave at complete strangers sitting on their porches, because obviously that's what you do in a small town.
15. Hand you the family camera during an unexpected hail storm and force you to lean out the window, snapping some shots of the damage for insurance purposes.
Gianni Jaccoma is an editorial assistant for Thrillist Travel, and his dad could probably definitely beat yours in a fight. For nonstop, dad-style humor, follow him on Twitter @gjaccoma