Saturday, June 29, 2013

Roadtrip Survival 101

At the airport the morning of the big NYC trip
just before the flight was cancelled and they had
to scramble to find another. Clearly the travel
gods do not love us!
Here's how I know my teenager is prepared for her travels to the Big Apple: I've set a splendid example. Sort of.

It is one of the summer days when I sleep in too long and wake in a panic. I have a ton of stuff to do. No time for a shower, I shellack the hair, throw on a bit of make-up and run out the door. By noon, I have successfully completed the errands, put out at least 2 figurative fires, and avoided 3 future problems! I am a woman on a mission. In fact, I am a woman done with her mission and who desperately needs a shower after running around, unbathed in the already 90 degree weather.

But fate has other plans. As I pull in, Sophie is pulling out. She is headed to Oklahoma City (about 2 1/2 hours away) for a master voice lesson. Suddenly, I have one of the Roaring Mom gut feelings that she should not go alone. So I jump in her dad's SUV with her, which is already gassed up and ready to go, and we head out.

It is a lovely mother/daughter bonding trip isn't! On the way out of town we decide to grab a bite. However, according to Dirty Shirley (the technological witch referred to in the February 18, 2012 post Tech Trouble), there is nothing available other than Asian food. No offense to the Chinese, but Asian food is the only food I really, really do not like. Finally, after 45 minutes of rush hour driving while my stomach attempts to eat itself, the Hunger Anger sets in and yelling starts.

"Fine!" Sophie yells back, "It says there's a Grandy's up ahead. Turn right." Only Dirty Shirley did not signify on her deceptive little Garmin screen that this is the dirtiest Grandy's in America! Hunger wins out and we order. We ignore the bugs and spider webs and sticky substances on the tables and try to eat. But it can't happen. My hand will not let itself bring that "food" to my lips. So we leave.

An hour later, the SUV crawls to a stop on the highway. Of course, it happens as I am passing a semi, so we barely make it to the left side of the road. Vehicles whizz by, 6 inches from the passenger side. A lot of the honk. None of them stop to help.

So we help ourselves. After 45 minutes of sitting in the 100 degree heat, making numerous phone calls home and to AAA and to the tow truck place, we decide to forge the 1/2 mile walk down the nearby exit ramp to the Conoco--correction, the Dirtiest Conoco in America. I decide to make the best of it, find the humor. That's what I do, right? I grab my bag and an umbrella for sun protection, lock the car and start our journey through the tall prickly grass that lines the exit ramp.

I'm thirsty. I'm hungry. I'm ruining my pedicure and my overpriced Grazies. I open the umbrella. At least I won't be sunburned, too. But the umbrella is no help. The spokes were broken and it won't hold it's shape. The wind turns it inside out.

Suddenly, a tortured laugh escapes my parched throat. "Sophie, this just goes to show you that you should always travel with sensible shoes and water. Just in case."

She stops, unamused, turns to me, and says in all seriousness,"Mom, I'm wearing tennis shoes. I have a liter of water in my bag, three oranges, a long sleeved light weight jacket and a fully charged cell phone. You are wearing blingy flip-flops, carrying a broken umbrella, a dead cell phone, and a bag of make up. I think I got this."

" least I'll look good!" Only I don't. Nor do I smell good. That extra hour of sleep was really not worth it.

An hour later, cramped in the cab of a tow truck with a mute driver who apparently doesn't believe in radios, I'm starving to death with no connection to the outside world. Sophie is still hoarding her oranges and cell phone. I hope she knows that if we are ever on Survivor, I'm voting her off and stealing her supplies!  Wait! Strike that! I'm voting myself off so I can take a hot shower in a cushy hotel. She'll be fine with her Mary Poppins backpack. And she'll be fine travelling to and from NYC, too.

What can I say? If you can't be a shining example of the right way to do it, be a memorable model of how to do it wrong. And pray your kids run in the other direction.

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