Trip Tales

I'm sorry I was all braggy about the road trip I had planned. I wrote about it about a week ago, when I was still in Stage 3 of Trip Planning: The Romance of Travel. I pictured designer clothes with my smell on them in a suitcase without rips or Disney characters, packed neatly into a Jaguar, me in the driver's seat with a Thelma and Louise scarf on my hair, big sunglasses and lip gloss, driving through nine states like I was Christie Brinkley in Vacation.

But by the morning of my departure, I was full throttle into Stage 10 of Trip Planning, which is Get In the Car Now With or Without Contact Solution, Retainer or Mapquest Directions Because I Said We Were Leaving AIS at 7 O'Clock So Just Do It I Want To Just Be There Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

I started out with a spurt of overachievement - we were actually in the car by 6:45 a.m. Fifteen minutes early! Who does that? So when my daughter asked if we could stop at Starbucks drive-through, I smiled with my lipglossed lips and said, "Sure!"

Got the Starbucks, got on I-95, and I was giddy enough to consider waiting until we got out of Palm Beach County to rig up the Cheez-It feedbag to my seat belt. Things were going really well.

Then, 10 miles on the freeway, my loud Honda Pilot got really loud.

"Is that us making that noise?" I asked the kids. I looked around. I was passing a small car and tried to blame him, but the noise persisted even after he was in my fumes. Then I noticed that I was having some difficulty steering the car. I had to put down my coffee cup and use both hands. Never a good sign.

I pulled over; my son got out and checked out the car and came back in to report that I had blown a tire. We hadn't been on the road more than 10 minutes. Crap.

I called my Honda roadside assistance, who sent a Pop-A-Lock guy, who changed my tire while entertaining us with tales of how he's been sideswiped by cars and trucks on this very highway several times. He's black from the armpits to the crotch area, he said. We watched him change the tire, fascinated by the tattoo he had of his mom's face and kicking ourselves for not knowing how to change a tire. I used to know how to do stuff. I used to be confident, independent and a little bit kick-ass. I tipped him and headed back home to have Tires Plus put four new tires on the car.

Five hours and $1,000 later, we rebooted our road trip, with a couple of additions: Four new tires, new brakes (apparently I needed them, too), a cute black top that I bought from Ross while waiting for the car, and various Dunkin Donuts foods and beverages in our stomachs.

While in Dunkin Donuts for our third visit in those five hours, my son shared with us one of the funniest things I've seen in ages. Have you played Walmart Bingo yet?

The rest of our trip was without further incident. We even got through Georgia without getting the smell of boiled peanuts stuck on our skin and the car upholstery. We're in Charlotte, North Carolina, now, visiting our friends. Tomorrow is the second leg of our trip, the drive from Charlotte to Cleveland, and Stage 13: Not Forgetting the Lipgloss at the First Place.

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