Summer is almost here and the freedom of the open road calls louder each day.
I can drown it out with my lawnmower for only so long and then it’s time for a family vacay.
If you’re like me, the week leading up to a road trip is full of panicky planning and packing, culminating the night before we leave, when I won’t sleep anyway from nerves.
Because I’m pretty sure I forgot something. Major.
Which means I begin our trip already exhausted.
Day One of the road trip begins just as dawn cracks and includes a great many last minute scuffles and false starts before take-off.
The first couple of hours include negotiating music selections, re-organizing personal items, watching the sunrise, and eating the first of far too many disgusting road trip breakfasts.
If Hubby is Pilot, we have it packed so as not to waste valuable road time in a drive through. Beverages are discouraged to keep bathroom stops to a minimum.
This is important to note.
This means NO CAFFEINE was administered to anyone in the car.
Day One is a marathon.
Day One is dedicated to getting as far down the road as possible before stopping. Day One assumes anything within driving distance is already familiar and therefore not worthy for the title “Travel Destination”. Day Two may have something to offer, but Day One is all about sitting in cramped quarters trying to distract yourself through long, straight, uninterrupted stretches of wasteland.
Downtown LA qualifies.
If Texas is between you and your destiny, you know how it feels to be a Road Zombie. If you have driven through the state of California…horizontally…you’ve been a Road Zombie. If you’ve driven past so many crops that you can identify them by smell with the window up, you have been a Road Zombie.
Your eyes get heavy. Your hands no longer feel the wheel. Your butt is numb and your leg wants to cramp if you wiggle your toes. Your left arm is sunburned because, naturally, your road trip has the car turned with the sun in your window. You’re squinting because a million dead bugs blanket the windshield, and once the afternoon rain hits, your wipers turn it into a rich soup that will take a few miles to eliminate, which is barely in time for you to dodge yet another big rig lumbering along ahead of you.
These truck drivers are always happy. You pass them and they seem to say, from their giant seats in the sky, “I have a mini-bar and a bathroom in my truck! I have absolutely no passengers so I can blast ANY music I want from my radio. I can see the speed traps way ahead of time. I can choose my own pace because I am the BIGGEST thing out here on 16 wheels baby. Texas? Big deal. I’m going from Sacramento to New Orleans. Now get outta my way before I blast the air horn.”
And we do.
Once in a while I get startled awake by a motorcycle brigade passing by.
I’ve kept my eyes on the horizon for five hours straight, not once looking in the rearview mirror because I will not only see my kid stuffing a Lego into another kids’ ear, but where I’ve already been.
See it once, shame on them. See it twice, shame on me.
Motorcycles move in a school, like fish. They drive on any part of the road they please, including the shoulder, the center divide line, and your bumpers.
One minute you’re driving along, day-dreaming about the next Motel 6, and suddenly you’re surrounded. Don’t panic. Don’t make any sudden steering maneuvers. They will part fluidly, pass you on all sides and move on down the road, braids flying from under helmets, boots thrust forward in the barcalounger position, much too cool to acknowledge you.
They will get to the Motel 6 first.
Maybe they don’t carry kids and legos, but they have more body parts going numb than I do.
So they’re in a hurry.
Day One ends with a personal vow as I stagger into an uncharted town in the middle of nowhere, face haggard, hair blown into dreadlocks, and a ghastly gleam in my eye.
“Apocalypse happening…first thing in the morning…if they don’t have coffee!”