Back before three-year-olds had their own personal backseat DVD players and nine-year-olds were text messaging on their cell phones, I was a little girl sitting on my dad’s briefcase in the front seat of his car (yes it was legal back then.)

“Keep your eyes peeled for Chelsea Street, princess,” he said on our way to school in the morning. “Dad, I’m not a potato,” I’d say giggling.

On long road trips to visit my grandparents in Oregon, we would play “eye spy with my little eye something beginning with the letter…” and sing along to Willie Nelson and Frank Sinatra blasting from the tape deck. It seemed like there was never a dull moment in our long treks across the state or even just to the local mountains. I kept my dad busy asking questions about how telephone wires worked or why it looked like the sun went into the ocean or why can’t you roll down the window in an airplane?

I didn’t know it then but it was those car rides to school and long road trips across the state, that served as a foundation for the bond my dad and I have today.

Sure, it wasn’t always a blast, there were countless times of being stuck on the road due to bad weather, trips when I got car sick because of the windy roads or the time my sister screamed in her car seat for two hours. But these were moments, which became memories. They were challenges, which we overcame as a team, as a family. These moments taught us coping skills, the importance of relying on our thoughts to distract us and encouraged us to make conversation and use our imagination.

Last week, my dad and I re-lived our road-trip-glory-days and ventured on a 13-hour drive to Eugene, Oregon to watch his alma mater University of Oregon beat the Beavers and take a seat in the Rosebowl. No doubt the game was incredible, but even if we had traveled that far to watch the game in a sports bar, it still would have been one of my favorite road trips.

As we headed toward Redding in our first leg of the drive my dad and I exchanged ideas and debated opinions, we waxed philosophical about our perceptions of the world. We reminisced about when I was kid and both agreed that we are so fortunate to have my mother and my two sisters in our life.

I thought I knew most of my dad’s childhood stories but as we drove through the town he grew up in and he showed me the church he and his family attended, more and more memories were shared. We visited the spot my grandpa took him and he brother fishing, we saw the house that he lived in as a boy and while walking down memory lane, my dad bumped into an old high school friend he hadn’t seen in 20 years.

The road trip illustrated what I have always believed to be true; that it is an accumulation of simple moments, which makes for the strongest and most genuine of relationships. My parents have spoiled me at Christmas and my birthday and in between. It is because of them that I have never gone without. However, that is not why I love them. I love them because they listened to my endless questions while we drove in the car, they read to me before bed, they took me for walks in the rain and they never let me forget whom I could go to if I was ever in doubt or in trouble.

I’m not a parent yet but I hope when I do have children they can be as open and honest with me as I am and always have been with my parents and siblings. I think as a parent you don’t have to be perfect, children are pretty forgiving of the imperfections as long as long as we can trust that you have always wanted the best for us.

As my dad and I were in the final stretch of the road-trip heading home I glanced to my right and I saw a little boy staring a movie in the back seat of his parents SUV, he was watching the movie “Nemo” (one of my favorites) and I actually started to get sucked in to watching it from a distance, until my dad changed lanes.

“Hey princess keep your eyes peeled for the 405,” he said joking. “Dad, I’m not a potato.”