People used to live closer to family and perhaps that made the trip over the river and through the woods so much more enjoyable that they wrote a song about it. But in the Midwest, with the entire North pole blowing down on our SUV, the drive to Grandma’s house was a little farther and not so pleasant.
My parents live in Nebraska and on a clear day when you can see for miles and miles over fields of corn and cows it takes me about six hours to get there. But this past Friday morning after a few more lovely inches of snow had fallen, as another herald of Santa’s eminent arrival, the going was a bit slower. For most travelers on the road. Not so much for my husband, who believes that everyone else doesn’t know how to drive in “weather.” He grew up on a farm and was driving before he could see out the front window, and then was allowed to drive his poor siblings to school everyday when he was only fourteen. Therefore, his driving ability is double that of others who only started driving at the ripe old age of sixteen.
If I’d been driving on Friday it probably would have taken a bit longer, but I chose to read a book and lose myself in a fictional world of a North Carolina summer. It was hard to concentrate because every time I’d become immersed in the story, he’d be slowing down for gawkers doing 35 in the fast lane, craning their necks to see the cars in the ditch. The warm summer sun beating down on my head instantly turned to ice-slick roads and swirling snow from the tops of Semis and my fictional world dissolved as he expounded upon people dumb enough to use cruise control on slippery roads and pointed out the obvious flaw in their travel—they only had rear-wheel drive. Of course we weren’t using cruise control and we were traveling in a four-wheel drive vehicle, therefore we were totally unbreakable!
I know he wasn’t really as immune to the danger as he pretended because he actually kept both hands on the wheel almost the entire way, and believe me that doesn’t normally happen. He didn’t look up movie times on his cell phone, or call his mom to discuss the weather, or ask for snacks out of the cooler. He just drove onward, buzzing along at sixty to seventy miles per hour with his extreme driving experience keeping us on the highway and out of the ditch.
Driving to grandma’s house when the kids were young was one thing, but traveling with our adult children for eight hours in a space usually available in a doghouse was—shall we say—cozy? Actually, it was very much like a doghouse, because we had two dogs along as well. Most of our attention was on the dogs, yelling at them and trying to keep our food out of their greedy little yappers. They really love fast food drive-through windows. They discovered food always comes out those little openings and have the mistaken idea that we order it just for them. Probably because the dingbat teller at the bank always sends them a milkbone through the money tube thing. It’s like ringing a bell when they hear a voice on the intercom. And they do not travel well. I am definitely getting tranquilizers before next Christmas. For them…and me.
Apart from the death-defying highway conditions, there was more suffering to come. Yes, we love family, seeing them, visiting with them, but…their beds are torture devices meant to keep anyone from staying longer than forty-eight hours. And it inevitably works. I felt like Goldie Locks. First I tried sleeping in the bed provided, along with my dear husband. But the thing is only Queen-sized and seemed like a Barbie bed after being spoiled by my King-sized Sleep number. The mattress sagged in the middle so that I felt as if I were sleeping on the side of a hill if I faced the wall, and in a wind tunnel when I faced my husband. So, I got up and tried the recliner, but it made my neck hurt, because as everyone knows, they make recliners man-sized. The next night I started out on the couch, but it was one of those for show only things that felt like it was carved from brick. I ended up back in the chair and then finally the bed, where I fell asleep to the sound of one husband and two dogs snoring—while milkbones danced in their heads. Hopefully not my husband’s.