Thursday, July 22, 2010
Current mood: breezy
It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been on a solo, cross-country road trip – probably 2002, when I last made the trip from West Virginia to Arizona. I have gone from Las Vegas to Phoenix and back again and I made a couple of forays into Northern California when the girls lived there with their mom, but this is the first multi-day, get-out-the-map-and-drive, sleep-when-you-can trip in quite a few years.
I am leaving for Dubuque, Iowa Saturday morning, in a rented mini-van, filled with my daughter Allison’s crap and an ugly little dog named Mandy. I did not name the pooch, or it would have had been called Hagrid. The dog doesn’t respond when I call it Mandy, so I could probably call it Hagrid and it wouldn’t give a shit, but it seems like it might be an awful lot of work to teach everyone that already knows the dog as Mandy that its name is now Hagrid.
I am in good spirits and have high hopes that my road-trip instincts are still keen. I will go to the library to check out some unabridged book tapes, pack a cooler full of Monster energy drinks, salami and cheese and buy a big bag of sunflower seeds. Working a cheekful of seeds is a handy way to stay awake when you are driving through the Texas Panhandle. I have IPod charged and loaded with some of my road-trip favorites, like Del Amitri, The Gin Blossoms and Alice Cooper. There will be dog food. A pillow – I must bring a comfy pillow for napping at rest stops or smothering the dog if it gets too annoying. I will pack light and bring a roll of toilet paper and an empty garbage bag. A working flashlight should be on board someplace as well as Band-Aids, jumper cables and an emergency ration of Ding Dongs.
I estimate the trip to take me two full days of driving, twelve to fifteen hours per day. That’s a lot of driving for a 50 year old guy with a torched lower lumbar. So I must also carry appropriate medication, should I begin to stiffen or seize up. Coincidentally, I am going to see the doctor after work today, so I will harangue him and weep and beat my fists on the examination table until he agrees to dispense with some powerful narcotic relief.
My bladder is still deep and strong, like that of a water-buffalo, so the dog will have to work around my schedule when it comes to exercise and urination. I don’t think it will care, since it mostly lays around all day anyhow, waiting for me to come home and let it out to pee. It will do the same now, only on wheels.
I have some Fresca and some Mountain Dew that I will also bring along, and a gallon of pickles from Sam’s Club that I bought for Allison and will certainly never finish on my own. She can unload the pickles at the same time she unloads the ten cases of video game machinery, musical instruments and assorted garbage, indiscriminately packed and the four heavy duty garbage bags of clothing that will be cluttering the back of the mini-van. It will give me some sense of accomplishment to leave the pickles in Iowa. I don’t mind pickles at all, in fact, I love them on a sandwich or a hamburger, but they are more likely to be eaten promptly if left with the children.
The trip back home will be more genteel. I will not feel rushed and may even perhaps take a scenic drive through the mountains of Colorado on the way back. Then down through Santa Fe, where the twins spent their last months in utero. Then, keeping my eyes open for UFOs, I will make my through northern Arizona and home to the empty keep and the little ugly dog.
It pays to have a game-plan.
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