Back in the day before GPS and satellite communication, before cars had video, and before children had iDevices, road-tripping parents had to engage in some creative thinking if they wanted to stem the tide of “Are we there yet?” and “I have to go to the bathroom!” from the back seat.
For my parents, that involved the License Plate Game.
The rules were simple: Spot a car registered in another state; call out the name; reach 50.
Yes, trucks and semis counted.
Yes, if a car was pulling a camper and each was registered in a different state, then they both counted.
The prize for my brother and I was bragging rights.
The prize for our parents was, obviously, short stretches of blissful silence.
I don’t know that we ever made it to 50. But, growing up in New England in the 1960s and 1970s, it was pretty easy to get up into the thirties. Gas was cheap and New England was a popular vacation destination. Especially on the coast where we lived.
I seriously doubt children on Guam play this game.
We’re pretty isolated and shipping a vehicle from the states can be expensive.
Also, the longest you can really rely on being in the car is an hour, and that’s only if you’re driving from one tip of the island to the other. In traffic.
So it’s rare that you’ll see an off-island license plate.
I’m told this is not the case on the military bases – where I don’t have access – as the military will pay for service members to ship their vehicles here.
I miss the License Plate Game. And, as you can see from the photo above, I’m still playing it in my own way. This is only the second off-island plate I’ve seen in 9 months. The other was from Alaska of all places.
7-year-old me would have killed to spot an Alaska license plate.