Awkward Family Email: My Uncle’s Road Trip

August 11th, 2009

“Hi Everyone,
Well after cruising along for 428 miles, I arrived at the KOA campground in Bismark. It was fairly empty when I first pulled in around 5:00 but by the time I came back from my Dairy Queen run, most of the drive through spots are full. Most of the tent spots are still empty.

There were two notable things today. Normally when going to the lake I can leave the milage display on the screen and see that I cruise along at 65 MPH with a normal weekend load of clothes and food and get around 24 MPG. Today towing the trailer and attempting to keep up with the 75MPH speed limit (which everyone seems to be ignoring) the jeep only gets about 11 MPG. So I made a few extra gas stops and noted how long it was between stops. There is a lot of open country out here in North Dakota. I sure hope when I turn south to go to the bike race that I find enought gas stations. I note that I will be taking mostly 2 lane roads so I will only be going around 55 MPH, so the milage should be better. It is the long distances between “towns” that worries me. I saw the sign for gasolene on an exit and took the exit. It was 5 miles to the town, and the station was shut. (its Sunday!). Fortunately a friendly person walking down the road gave me directions to get gas without going right back to I-94. However when I started back out from the gas station, my GPS started telling me to drive 133 miles south on the two lane road to continue my journey. I ignored that advice and asked for more directions from a local and only had to go on a couple roads that the GPS apparently did not know about to get back to I-94. Maybe I should have downloaded new maps to the GPS before I left the house. It is only 6 weeks old, so I figured it had to be fairly up to date.

The other thing that really struck me is how big motorhomes and trailers have become since I last camped on a trip in the 70′s. I would say that at least 1/2 half of the “campers” here are with giant motor homes towing jeeps or trucks or they are fifth wheel trailers. The folks next to me have a fifth wheel toy hauler with their Harley’s in the back and the “living quarters” in the front. Like I mentioned, no real tent campers here.

Tomorrow’s only planned activity is the river boat ride on the Missouri river and maybe visiting a few of the historical sites in Bismark and Mandan. I also want to find the city park since someone wrote about in on the web and said it is the best campground in the area. It supposedly is on the river so maybe when I find the boat ride I can find the park.

Thats the news for now. No campground pictures since it would look like last week’s pictures. There is a quick snapshot of the car and trailer as I finished loading up this AM.”

(submitted by Lisa)

335 Responses to “Awkward Family Email: My Uncle’s Road Trip”

  1. Chris says:

    I read the letter carefully to catch the punchline, but was surprised to find nothing awkward about the writer. The writer sounds like a lot of other people trying to have some fun on little money. The only thing I feel is awkward is the fact that Lisa found it necessary to send in the letter and now everyone is disgusted with her. I hope the uncle doesn’t find it one day as he would be insulted and hurt. Not a nice thing to do to a man that is only keeping in touch. Oh well, one day Lisa will be old and boring to people younger than herself. So I have now added to all the “awkward” comments from people that can’t understand what was funny about the letter! I officially feel awkward for taking this time to ramble on about something that happened two years ago, in another country, by people I will never meet.

    • cathy says:

      Geez, relax! It is funny. I have a father-in-law who is exactly like the man in the letter. It’s only funny if you know someone like this. It was done light heartedly, not maliciously.

    • Cara says:

      I completely agree. I kept waiting to read the funny part. Apparently, it’s awkward to write your family when you’re on a long road trip, to tell them about it. How dare they!

  2. franksinatra says:

    I live in bismarck!!!

  3. Petal says:

    OMG I literally have tears running down my face from these comments!!

  4. Kell says:

    This is how people used to write letters to each other before the advent of email. The writing also reminds me of old travel journals or even some literature. Hence, many people here commenting and finding it funny or annoying probably couldn’t read it or appreciate it because of short attention spans. We’ve become a fast moving society with little patience for long narrative and connecting through language. This becomes awkward because I’m guessing the uncle never intended for this to be shared on a public forum to be ridiculed by the shallow and unimaginative.

    • Mel says:

      Amen!! those of us who appreciate the email may be more used to read books… Yes, the type of literature written in the XIX century. It’s called ‘classics’. Hemingway anyone?

    • CarrieM says:

      I’ve read a lot of journals of pioneers crossing the west, as well as modern travel writers. Many of them were excellent writers who could conjure up beauty and the lure of the road as well as relating the more mundane details of travel. This is just plain boring. Traveling doesn’t have to be just about mileage and GPS points and pictures of the car being packed.

    • Jim says:

      Good for you, Kell!

      Perhaps nobody mentioned that the letter appears to have no spelling errors, and good, if not perfect, grammar. The kids commenting here should learn something – this letter tells a lot more than the crap we see in twitter and other texts. It also tells that Uncle is “all there” mentally, independent, and is thinking of his family, instead of himself (because he wrote the letter).

      I wish I could introduce the uncle to my dad, they would get along great.

      • Tosh says:

        I wondered if the awkwardness was the lack of text speak. Can modern kids even understand a sentence that has you and are in it?

  5. i love toy story, it’s so funny!!!

  6. Katherine says:

    Well, call me weird, but I ENJOYED reading about the uncle’s trip. He can send his emails to me anytime!

  7. Rachel says:

    Both my sis and I were in stitches over this email. I still can’t read it without bursting into giggles! The first time I read it was in the middle of the night and I had to go stuff my face into a pillow so as not to wake everyone with my laughter!!

  8. Ell says:

    I stumbled across this blog and I just had to comment on this entry. I grew up in the Dakotas, and I found this strangely informative and poignant. On long trips through the area, I found myself doing the exact same things as a teenager–I found ways to amuse myself in the car. I tallied up the gas mileage, daydreamed about the few vehicles I saw, and wondered about the attractions in the nearby “cities.”

    I’ve worked in NYC for nearly a decade now. I haven’t been back to the Dakotas in years. But I’m still vaguely fascinated by the attractions in Bismark, and I’d love to go back and visit the vast quiet emptiness of the state. It’s a gorgeous place for solitude and reflection. The weather is harsh, and the land is windswept and empty, but there’s something achingly clean and sweet about it. This entry may be strangely technical and wordy to some, but I find it very touching.

  9. Mary O Flanagan says:

    This is the funniest email I have seen in ages. There is an air or repressed anger and general disapproval of the rest of humanity that makes me think this uncle would be no picnic in person. But what a raconteur. It’s like reading Mark Twain on how he got back to the interstate.

  10. Shelia says:

    I have an uncle like this, except he would have detailed everything he ate on his Dairy Queen run. He would have included what he had on his burger and whether he ate ketchup on his fries.

  11. Virginia says:

    I dated a guy like this. Ugh.

    • Kay says:

      Me too. This is really funny… whether the uncle is a sweet old man or not, people of all ages talk like this. And no matter who it is, it’s boring and very awkward hahaha.

  12. C says:

    I thought I was missing something too..and then realized this is exactly how my dad talks! I’m just used to hearing about insignificant, mundane things!

  13. clint says:

    I thought I was missing something until I read the comments!

  14. Jen says:

    As someone who lives near the KOA in Bismar(c)k, I found this cute! Not awkward at all, just rambling and sweet. I hope he found the riverboat, got a ride, and enjoyed his time here.

  15. Gas Mileage Sucks When You're Towing says:

    When it got dark, I unrolled my sleeping bag. Not many use sleeping bags here. I laid down and went to sleep. Normally I get 8 hours of sleep, but tonight I only got 6. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have breakfast.

    • GowinCraZ says:

      I had to walk a 1/4 quarter of a mile to go to the bathroom. What struck me is that there were so few people that had to pee outdoors. Most of them use their motorhome “facilities” which is almost like a regular bathroom at home. I brought some Charmin with me as I did not want to take the risk of wiping with poison ivy. I got an e-mail saying that I needed to watch out for “leaves of three.” Leaves of Three, Let Them Be is how the saying goes.

  16. Lisa says:

    I can’t figure out what’s funnier…the email that goes on and on or the number of comments from people who can’t figure out why it’s so funny!

  17. Elucidarian says:

    I couldn’t appreciate the character of this email since I was too caught up recognizing everything it was detailing.

    Brian, Grand Forks, ND

  18. Snowflake says:

    Nope… not awkward, not funny. Just an unappreciated uncle, and a snotty niece.

  19. Obama's teleprompter says:

    Don’t get it. Not even close to funny.

  20. mer says:

    I thought this was kind of interesting and the story was told well in terms of moving forward, etc., if not in perfect grammar. When it was finished I wondered if he kept in touch in this fashion throughout the trip, and how the boat ride was. If it was my uncle, I’d have been glad to receive it. I think people should correspond more in this fashion, as they once did long ago.

    I kept waiting for a punchline that never came.

  21. Tiffanie says:

    I wasn’t amused either and I realized why: I am the person that writes/tells stories like this and provides too much detail!

    I’m guessing if you weren’t amused either, you’re “that” person too! :-)

  22. Stephanie says:

    I don’t really get the awkwardness.

    • jamie says:

      i think the awkwardness is the fact that the guy probably spent over a hour writing it and 99.999% of the people read it only read it for 10 seconds.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  23. Corinne says:

    I thought this was hysterical! The most awkward part about it to me, is trying to figure out how I would reply to it! “Uh, thanks, Uncle, cool story. But you left out what you got at Dairy Queen.”

    • Mary says:

      This is maybe my favourite; above Marnie and the Thanksgiving letter, even and I loved your comment.

      Why is this one so divisive? It’s hilarious to me.

  24. OhanaMama says:

    Well, just to let you know, I live in Mandan/Bismarck and I totally get everything this guy is saying. Yes, his grammar is kind of poor, but the details don’t escape me. I’d say what a nice uncle to share with his family. It’s not really that funny…

    • GowinCraZ says:

      Are you serious? I’m from there too, but, I could give a rip about how many miles to the gallon he was getting and the details of him stopping for directions — hello?!?! This is stuff you don’t share with anyone at all. No one cares.

  25. Greg says:

    Absolutely genius.. I died laughing.. I dunno why everyone here is so unamused, that was one of the best posts on this site yet.

    • Pepper says:

      I know! I loved it! Ha ha! HEY and whoever sent in this letter DID appreciate the letter! Obviously it made her laugh! She wanted to share some laughter with the rest of the world.

  26. Alice says:

    I think it’s sad that this ended up here. It’s not like this guy is a Marney, he’s just trying to keep in touch.

    • Mel says:

      I agree… there should be some kind of ‘patience’ and ‘tolerance’ standards towards the elderly… Many people in their day used to write diaries and others do have a tendency to register every detail of things they see or experience. This is the type of people who study History, Anthropology, etc.

      • Connie says:

        I agree with Alice and Mel — come on, the guy is just trying to keep in touch with “slice of life” commentary. He’s obviously a very nice person and you should be so lucky as to have a relative like this in your life. If you’d ever gotten out on a road trip yourself, you’d understand why what he tells you is important to him. If you don’t want him for your relative, I’ll take him, because I’d be happy to hear the details of his trip — and actually respond to them instead of posting him to the internet to make fun of him. You should be ashamed of yourself.

        • Connie says:

          As I read through the rest of these comments, I’m relieved to see so many who feel the same way I do about the inappropriateness of your post. Snowflake said it best, “Just an unappreciated uncle, and a snotty niece.” You owe your uncle a big apology.

  27. Michael says:

    I don’t think this is amusing… at all. I regret having read it. It’s the guy’s uncle. If you don’t want to read something SENT to you… don’t read it. If your friends are sending something to you, and you’re not interested. Imagine how much less interesting you are… to your friends. Nevertheless, this was not sent to me. It was posted on a (to this point) funny website. And now I’ll get to spend the twilight years of my life contemplating why.

  28. Natkat says:

    I love how he says “1/2 half of the ‘campers’”. So, is that 1/4? I wonder if he uses air quotes.

    I can completey envsion this relative. Not only are his stories boring but he retells them every time he sees you, which I am hoping is mercifully infrequently.

  29. michael says:

    this was hilarious. that poor man. i have very socially unaware friends like that who think people actually wanna hear all of this.

  30. slurm says:

    I skimmed this and saw a lot of numbers and immediately recognized it as one of “those” messages. I have a friend who sends me stuff exactly like this, except on a daily basis. Minor, insignificant details about everything in his life, in essay form. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world.

    Needless to say, I flipped out at him and told him to stop. Then I blocked him on every method of communication so he can’t reach me. Job well done.

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