On the Road Again

Big road trip coming up for the Fitzpatricks. I’m driving to south Florida, armed with two teen-agers, a $60 tank of gas, a family sized box of Cheez-its and five books on tape.

Mapquest tells me it’s 974.32 miles. My high school math tells me it’ll take me about 15 hours. My husband tells me it’s a sonofobitch. But I’m going to do it. I am neutral on the road trip issue. Some people love them and the adventure and quiet solace the car offers; others hate them and wouldn’t do this if the last airplane on earth had crashed. I don’t hate road trips but I’m not looking forward to this trip either. I’m expecting about mid-Georgia to come to my senses and say, “What the - - ? How did I get here? Who’s idea was this?” No one will answer. The kids will have big old earphones on. My husband won’t answer his cell phone. I won’t call my son who isn’t coming, because he’ll tell me, “I told you not to go to Florida.”

We Fitzpatricks hate to fly so we’ve had some serious road trips, just to get to a decent vacation destination. When the kids were little, I used to stuff them into the mini-van and drive from Chicago to Youngstown, an eight-hour adventure that regularly resulted in pacifiers flying out the car window, fun-with-seat-belt crafts, speeding tickets, and a record number of potty breaks. To avoid having to deal with conscious kids, I would get up at 3 a.m., pack the car, pick up the three kids from their beds and carefully reposition them in fetal positions in the van and leave the house by 4 a.m. My goal was to get to Toledo before I had to wake them up and stop. A good idea in theory, but one that didn’t take into account the fact that I was drinking coffee for five hours through Illinois and Indiana before that stop. Luckily there aren’t a lot of lakes and rivers in the corn field that is Indiana. If I had seen as much as an inflatable wading pool, I would have been doomed.

All that early travel back to Youngstown from wherever we’ve lived turned our kids into supreme travelers. I’ve never heard a complaint of car sickness, a fight over the last Twizzler, or as much as an, “Are We There Yet?” out of those kids. They surround themselves with bags of food, bottles of water, books and an iPod and they’re happy travelers. The constant headphones allow me to talk to myself, yell at other drivers, and listen to books on tape that have swear words in them. (On one trip from Washington to Youngstown when the kids were little, I tried to listen to She’s Come Undone, but hit a snag when I got to the well described lesbian love scene. These were pre-headphone days. I smacked the off button on the tape player and glanced to the back seat, where the kids were wide eyed and smirking. No more Wally Lamb on trips. This time I have Silas Marner and Bleak House. I think we’re safe.)

I won’t be blogging while I’m there. I’ll be back the first week of April with lots of adventures to tell about, not the least from the car trip tomorrow, no doubt.

Happy Spring Break!