Summer travel with kids, car rides and puke buckets

click to enlarge A 2015 scenic morning puke stop along the Clearwater River resulted in stunning river views like this one
A 2015 scenic morning puke stop along the Clearwater River resulted in stunning river views like this one

Every time I head out on a road trip with my family, I’m inspired to work on a little travelogue I’ve always meant to write. It’ll be called, “Scenic Places to Puke in the Pacific Northwest.”

I’m not sure there’d be much demand for such a title, but I feel I have lot to contribute on the subject. Write what you know, they say, and I know plenty about puking on car trips. I’m no rookie to the art myself, but it’s my kids who’ve given me the real experience. We have it down to a science.

Kids are a little prone to motion sickness to begin with, some more than others. I’ve got one who, for awhile, could barely make it across town. Added to that, stomach bugs don’t respect travel plans. There was a time when my kids thought hotels were where people went to be sick.

Even without help from our germ friends, a lot can come up during a car trip -- breakfast, mostly. We’ve tried everything -- eating certain foods, not eating at all, riding in the middle, looking out the window. Benadryl only succeeded at turning everything pink. Peppermint candies take the edge off the nausea, but candy canes are forever ruined. The pressure-point wristbands made us feel like we were trying, if nothing else.

Mostly we just got good at handling the puke buckets. Pull-outs offer a more scenic experience, of course, but timing is an issue there, and it’s not worth the risk. Plus the buckets work well to hold snacks, at least until -- well, they do a good job holding snacks in all of their forms. You maybe don’t want to use them much after they’ve held snacks that have been eaten once already.

These are all tips I would explore in the introduction of my travelogue, along with bucket-dumping strategies. You don’t want to dump anything out the window of a moving vehicle, for example. Unless you hate the person behind you and their window is down. Likewise, even after the car is stopped, take note of wind direction. That long, flat stretch between here and Seattle can get rough if you’re not careful.

The nice thing is that, if you’re looking for scenic places to puke, you’re in luck because the things that make for nice scenery are also ideal for motion sickness: Mountains and rivers lend themselves to winding roads.

My guide would highlight some nearby destinations, like Rattlesnake Grade on the way to Joseph, Ore. If that road doesn’t get you on the way down, it’ll get you on the way back up. If you can find a pull out, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the canyon. You can even stop at the bottom for a milkshake if you want to reload.

Highway 12 along the Clearwater River is also an excellent option. The road hugs the banks of the river, and if you’re lucky enough to ride in the backseat with a driver who’s  in a hurry, you’ll be retching in the river in no time. There are enough scenic turnouts along the route that you might consider skipping the bucket -- just pick a spot and take care of things. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the river.

If you’re more the thrill-seeking sort, you might check out Washington State Route 261 from Washtucna to Starbuck. With plenty of hills and turns, you’ll be wondering what this roller coaster you’re on will cost you from a digestive standpoint. It’s a narrow road and beautiful terrain, with great views, especially when driving south. Unfortunately, this guide is yet unfinished. But you can bet that I’ll be doing plenty of research for it this summer. Whatever your travel plans are this summer, here’s to another season of discovering great places to visit, and puke, in this beautiful region we get to call home.

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