I guess I must be getting older because these days when I look at the idea of a road trip, I audibly groan instead of getting excited for a brand new adventure!
20 years ago I traveled 1,438 miles across the country to start the next chapter of my life in Florida and I did the entire thing in two days. Last year I repeated the journey after spending a month in Michigan to help care for my ailing father, and I was just about comatose by the time I finally made it back home again … and that was a solo trip without kids!
More recently, this week our family traveled up to North Carolina for the funeral of my wife’s aunt, and it was a mere 600 miles, so we figured we could just do the drive in a single day. Being from New York, apparently this was her halfway point when driving down to Florida (mine was Chattanooga, TN), so how bad could it be???
Leaving home around 10am, we arrived around 9pm, making the whole trip about 11 hours, which we thought was pretty good assuming a couple of hours for breaks, food, and gas throughout the day.
Coming back home, we left closer to 11am, but didn’t arrive until 1:30am, clocking in at 14.5 hours because traffic on I-95 through the Carolinas was stop and go for almost the entirety thanks to holiday traffic and those states’ failure to buy enough road for their stretch of the drive!
Ironically, the kids did awesome at the middle part of our trip, which was appreciated because that was the funeral and meeting family and whatnot, but where they could’ve done better was the drive there and back, and if I’m being honest, one of them did excellent, one of them did pretty good, and unfortunately the third one was an absolute fucking nightmare for all three of them.
It sucks how one person’s unreasonably salty mood while trapped in a moving vehicle with hundreds of miles left to go can make everybody’s blood boil, and there’s nothing you can really do about it. I mean, you can try to reason with them, which works about as well as reasoning with a tantrumming child usually does. Or you can try to ignore them, which works until an outside force – be it another driver doing something stupid or another child complaining about you not dealing with their brother – piles onto the mess and breaks your fortitude.
On the way up, I was lucky to intermittently sleep for most of the ride because my wife picked up more than her share of the driving, however I ended up doing like six hours in a row coming back simply because she was otherwise occupied holding said child’s hand while he refused to go to sleep for five of those six hours.
That said, today in the car while we were going to pickup the dog, he wouldn’t stop yelling at me about the sun being in his eyes, so maybe there’s something else going on there anyways!
As if needing to stretch for far longer than we ever did 20 years ago after such a ride wasn’t enough, it’s the whining and the more frequent pee breaks and the $40 snack stops that make road tripping with the family much more of an ordeal than they were in our youth.
A wise man once said, “The journey sucks – that’s what makes you appreciate the destination!” (Chevy Chase, Vacation)
For what it’s worth, the destination was pretty nice, albeit cold this time of year. My wife got a chance to see her family and mourn her aunt, which she really needed, and later that night we all blew off some steam running around Dave & Buster’s.
26 hours of driving for roughly 12 hours of quality time, but sometimes that’s the schedule that life gives you.