So my son and I just got home from our annual “road trip”. The reason I wrote “road trip” instead of road trip is that I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. A road trip is a fun lark; a “road trip” is something that happens when you need to get from point A to point B and for various reasons you ultimately decide that driving is the best option of your not-so-great options.
Our annual “road trip” is a journey we embark on every summer to spend time with our family in North Carolina; 11 hours on a great day, 14 on the day we went. In case you are thinking—14 hours??? Are you CRAZY??? Why not break it into two days, you lunatic?—let me assure you these sorts of thoughts have been verbalized many times over the past nine years. And let me also assure you that my rationale for doing it all in one day is simple: why ruin TWO perfectly good days of your life when you only NEED to ruin ONE.
And don’t even ask about the year my husband and I decided to drive straight through (24 hours total) from southern FLORIDA to home. Some things are better left unsaid.
Okay, so back to my most recent “road trip”—I was the only driver but the kid is a great companion. He keeps me pretty jolly in spite of my STRONG TENDENCY for road rage and the incessant tongue-lashing of my fellow travelers. As in—you are pretty damned old to still have no idea how to merge, clown!
My tolerance for traffic jams hovers around zero and therefore the 95 corridor, particularly through western Connecticut and New York City, nearly does me in every time. This year we started our day WRONG by having to circle back to the house for a critical object forgotten, and subsequently sat in what I will call “the unemployed rush hour” (10:00 on a Tuesday?) followed by “the never-ending construction on the George Washington Bridge delay” that basically had us two hours behind schedule in the first two hours of the trip. The hideous hour spent on the Cross Bronx was somewhat exacerbated by a van that boasted the logo “Drape Kings”, which would have been bad enough except their phone number was given as 1-888-DRAPE-ME.
“Drape me”??? Um, marketing fail; I give it a “D”. Nobody wants to be “d-raped”.
After that, we did okay until we got to D.C., because we hit it two hours behind schedule and therefore dangerously close to the “employed rush hour”. Traffic was hairy but not nearly as bad as what happened shortly after clearing the area. I was riding what we call “the slow lane” (that third lane, closest to the exit on a three-lane highway) when all of the sudden we came to a dead stop. The travel lane and passing lane were whizzing along, so I put on my blinker and waited for an opening.
And waited. And waited. Finally, a semi provided me with about an 8 car-length opening, so I jumped on it.
Next thing I know a horn is blaring and in my rear view mirror I see the its lights only—the truck is right on top of me.
I hit my horn in case I am about to be rear-ended to warn the person in front of me, but it doesn’t happen. The slow lane holdup is quickly revealed as an exit back-up, so once I get around it, I move back over to the slow lane, shaking and hoping the truck will go on his obviously-so-urgent-he-couldn’t-tap-on-the-brakes way. But that is not what happened.
Instead, he pulled in front of me in the slow lane and jammed on his brakes. I followed suit. He then proceeded to drive about 40 miles an hour in a 65 zone.
I followed him for good while before trying to make a break for it. I moved into the passing lane in the flow of traffic, but he immediately pulled into the travel lane and gunned his motor so he was quickly gaining. The road was clear behind me, so I stepped on the brakes and let him go by; then I pulled back into the slow lane.
As did he, in front of me, and once more slowed to 40.
I decided to stay the course; it was a marathon day anyhow, it wouldn’t kill me to drive 40 until he got bored with his game. After several miles, he put on his turn signal and started to get off an exit. Relieved, I went around him in the travel lane. He immediately got back on the highway and pulled up behind me.
So, he was not easily bored, apparently. Also, anyone that obsessively vindictive about having another driver merge in front of them with plenty of room and a blinker is probably not a well person. My adrenals were shot, so my son and I agreed to get off the next exit and look for a safe, crowded place and if he followed us, to call the police.
Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.
But by the end of that very long day, we had made a collective decision NOT to make our return “road trip” on 95. We knew that going the back way home would be just as long (if not longer), but a helluva lot less stressful, and we were right.
But all told, we spent 29 hours in the car, round trip. And yes, we WILL do it all over again next year. Because you know that by comparison, every other “road trip” we take can truly be a road trip.
This August, we want to hear about your experiences with road trips and/or “road trips”
The good, the bad and the ugly, share your most memorable travel experiences with our readers at Heart and Humanity. Because this will be a change to our usual format, submissions will be extended until July 21. We accept up to 10 paid pieces per month, so send us your work here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to hitting the road with you in August!