“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes
After my older siblings moved out of state, the folks packed my sister and me up each summer and traveled south to visit. There were certain things we knew to expect. With no air conditioning, it was guaranteed to be hot and sweaty which made everybody crabby. It was inevitable we’d get lost at some point. Mama couldn’t read a map (maybe she could have read it if she hadn’t held it upside down!), and Daddy NEVER asked for directions.
Then there was the potty problem. Unless you wanted to endure Daddy’s fussing you didn’t dare say you had to use to the bathroom because he was NOT going to stop until he was almost out of gas. This wasn’t a problem for me, the one with the teensy weensy bladder, because I didn’t drink anything. I knew I could depend on my sister to be the one whining because she always chugged on her Dr. Pepper the entire trip. Therefore, I’d be saved the wrath and I’d get to use the bathroom….though I’d have to listen to Daddy fuss about having to stop and Mama fuss about my sister drinking so much soda. When we did stop at a gas station, Mama was right there telling us not to sit on the toilet because of all the diseases people have and reminding us to wash our hands and not touch anything when we leave. And how were we supposed to get out if we didn’t touch the doorknob?
My sister and I would try to entertain one another by making up games with license plates and road signs. Or she’d yell at me for poking her, falling asleep on her, or talking too much, and I’d yell back or shove her. Daddy would start cussing. Mama would turn around and give us that “you’re dead if you don’t stop it” look. Then she’d yell at us or swat at us from the front seat. We were pretty good at keeping out of her reach.
Daddy had a lead foot. If there was a line of cars, he’d mash the gas pedal as hard as needed to get to the front of the line. Mama fussed at him for always wanting to be in the lead. Occasionally, he’d slam on the brakes due to some “idiot driver” in front of him. My sister and I would be jerked forward and slung back. She’d complain of car sickness, and Mama would tell her to stop whining. I stick my pillow over my head to drown out both the bickering and the crooning of Meryl Haggard, Loretta Lynn, or whoever was at the top of the billboards at the time.
A bit of excitement arose here and there such as a police car and siren approaching. Mama would yell he was coming after us, and Daddy would laugh as the cop whizzed on by. Once there was a news helicopter towering overhead, a car weaving in and out of traffic and a police car in pursuit. We watched them come up on us, around us, and keep on going. Later we came up on the car with the policeman shoving the guy against the car and cuffing him. Another time there was a guy zipping by and a girl chasing him yelling out the window at him and throwing stuff at him. Daddy said, “She’s mad as hell at him. I wonder what he did.” For a good hour later I wondered what they were fighting about and if they’d make up.
I think the worst trip of all was when we traveled in an eighteen wheeler. I have no idea where we were going with an empty truck. The only thing I can think of is my Brother in law’s friend owned a rig. My parents rode in the cab while my nephew, the dog, and I rode in the back of the empty trailer. It was dusty, stuffy, and pitch black. We didn’t have a flash light or even a radio. We were sitting on blankets and they slid with every curve, throwing us into the walls or sending us spinning into the middle. We took turns clinging to the dog. The only thing we could hear over the roar of the engine and the traffic was the pings of gravel and other debris beneath and against the metal trailer. The noises of the rig echoed and was almost deafening at times. To say we were bored, scared, dizzy, and tired is an understatement. There was no way to contact them if we needed anything. Our only hope was when we stopped moving. We’d pray it wasn’t just a traffic light but a bathroom break. The thud and scrape of the metal bar being slid on the lock assured us the door would open. We had to close our eyes to ease the daylight on them. We knew better than to complain though I’m sure we still whined a bit. However, it did make us appreciate being cramped up in the car. We actually wanted to be hot and sweaty. We even welcomed those country crooners. We were even willing to be in pain trying to hold our bladders. More than anything, we secretly wished our parents could ride a few miles in the same conditions we had.
Spin Cycle: Road Trip
Living in the Gap
March 22, 2012 – The touch of rain
The rain dropped and plopped upon my skin. It fell in a gentle swoop with a big drop every now and then that splattered when it made contact with the ground. Raindrops glistened across leaves and flowers petals. The rain left a wet sheen upon the cobblestone while the dirt simply absorbed them. My feet chilled as my shoes soaked in the wetness of the grass as I walked around the yard taking pictures of all that came to life during the drizzle.