On July 5th, my husband and I started a road trip of my own design. According to him, “I’m just along for the ride,” and although his enthusiasm was underwhelming, it did take some pressure off.
After picking up the rental car (this smooth little Eco-friendly Kia that was so quiet I tried to turn it on twice after it was already started) we hit the road. We set the GPS and spent a little while trying to figure out how it worked, which was no problem since we were going straight on I-80 for about a billion miles. We drove east across Indiana and saw nothing but grass and road. We drove east across Ohio and saw the same thing. We got to Pennsylvania and it was the same story until the mountains appeared, and let me tell you: they were a big thrill after seven or more hours of grass and road and Hardee’s service plazas. I asked my husband if they were mountains or just big hills and he wasn’t sure. Eventually we were both sure because they became huge and winding and pretty fun to drive through after going straight for hours with only intermittent road construction for entertainment.
Eventually, we stopped for dinner at a Perkins somewhere in PA. My friend Lisa was meeting us in New Jersey, so I sent her a text update which gave her virtually no information except that “the GPS says around an hour and a half more driving.” We ate fast and got back in the car. I waited for instructions from the GPS but apparently she wanted us to actually be on a road before telling us where to go. We got back on the highway. I merged when instructed (“stay left, then go right”) and we finally entered New Jersey, headed toward our hotel in Secaucus (purchased at a great bargain with a little help from William Shatner.) It was exciting to see signs pointing to New York since that was our ultimate goal. Our more immediate goal, though, was New Jersey and soon the traffic got crazy and the sun went down and since I have very poor night driving vision, I was pretty sure our adventure was going to end with us and our smooth Kia as a slick stain on the New Jersey turnpike. The GPS kept giving useless instructions like, “turn right in 30 feet,” as though I had the time or ability to calculate in my head “okay, if I’m going 75 miles per hour and there is an angry Soprano six inches from my bumper and three exits coming up within the next 50 feet, I should “exit right” when?!?”
Incredibly, I only exited wrong once and the GPS lady kindly turned me back around to the terrifying highway. Pretty soon it was darker and the lights were more glaring and the signs had large arrows pointing to lanes (I was already in!) reading “Lincoln Tunnel.” But see, I KNEW about Lincoln Tunnel, and I knew where it ended up and I also knew that after driving in New Jersey that New York City was out of the question. So I “stayed right” and “went left” until my knuckles were white and we (finally!) got off the highway and ended at our hotel. Big relieved sighs all around.
Then I realized that I promised to pick Lisa up at the bus station.
We checked in, threw the suitcase on the bed, checked to see what kind of premium movie channels were included in our cable package, and I threw myself on the bed to call Lisa and prayed that I didn’t have to go back out there.
Turned out, she was totally cool about it. In fact, there was a bus stop across the street from the hotel. So we organized a rollaway bed, greeted Lisa in the lobby, caught up a little and then slept like we had actually been killed on the highway.