Rumor has it that there are those of you who eagerly anticipate the summer months, that idyllic time of year when you can pile the kids into the car and set off on the open road.
I am not among you. I like the comforts of home, sleeping in my own bed, controlling my own thermostat, generously squirting my shampoo out of a full size bottle.
I do not enjoy being confined in the car for long periods of time. Perhaps this is because my childhood road trips always involved a large bottle of prescription strength Dramamine and the infamous red bowl that my mother STILL likes to remind me about. Perhaps it’s because on especially long trips (you know, anything longer than an hour and a half), my older sister had the privilege of stretching out across the back seat, while I was relegated to stretching out across the floor of the backseat – back in the ‘60’s, the floor of the back seat had a large hump in the middle, a hump for which no stack of pillows could adequately compensate.
My husband would likely tell you that I hate road trips because I am a very, very bad passenger. I stomp on my imaginary brakes, clutch the door handle with a death grip, and brace myself against the dash for impending collisions even when the nearest vehicle is no bigger than a pencil point a mile up ahead.
My best strategy for road trips, aside from total avoidance, is to do the driving myself, thus minimizing any potential motion sickness and eliminating my heart attack-inducing bad passenger behavior, which brings me to our recent road trip up north to visit family. It’s about a ten hour trek (and yes, I drove it all), from North Carolina through Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and finally, into New Jersey, a journey that you road trip veterans probably breeze through, never even stopping to pee.
Well, we did stop to pee. We stopped often and I’m cool with that. In fact, based on our stops, I wholeheartedly recommend the rest stops along I-81 in Virginia. They were spotlessly clean. On the other hand, the one New Jersey rest stop we pulled into didn’t even have any bathrooms! Come on, Chris Christie, a rest stop without bathrooms?
Anyway, I wanted to share some highlights of our trip, so here you go:
Most Awkward Moment: It was at one of the lovely Virginia rest stops that my daughter and I entered the restroom, along with an older woman. We were the only 3 people in there and we each entered a stall and went about our business. In mid-stream, the older woman decided to strike up a conversation. “So, where are you headed? Where are you coming from? We’re coming up from Florida, it’s day 2 and we have 600 miles to go…” I didn’t want to be rude, but I didn’t want to encourage further conversation while we were all, uh, occupied. Awkward.
Stinkiest State: Congratulations, Pennsylvania! Thanks to your miles and miles of farm land, upon which tens of thousands of farms animals graze and poop, you were by far the stinkiest state on our trip.
Most Roadkill: Congratulations again, Pennsylvania! There must’ve been 30 or so dead deer along the highways of Pennsylvania. Yikes! Bambi should seriously consider relocating.
So Close Yet So Far: After 10 long hours in the car, we were so close. We had made it to New Jersey and were only a few miles from our destination. Only it was rush hour. In New Jersey. Bumper to bumper, we crawled past the last few exits, so close yet so far. I don’t know how people navigate that vehicular nightmare every single day, if not twice a day. I suppose people would flee the state, if only they weren’t stuck in gridlock.
The good news is that we traveled safely, with only intermittent traveler crankiness and no major meltdowns. We basked in familial love for a couple of days and left before the warm glow could morph into an inferno of tiny irritations. All in all, a good trip.