Road trip, anyone?


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Stuck in Customs

This weekend, my 77-year-old mother embarked on a new adventure.

Without the slightest hesitation, she joined my 22-year-old niece and her dog, in a stuffed to capacity, beat up SUV for a three-day road trip.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t what they expected.

Just fifty miles into their trajectory, my niece, unable to get her “Tom Tom” to work, became overwhelmed, frustrated, and irate.

“I can’t get the damn thing to work! I don’t think I can do this!”

In my best soothing voice I said, “You can do this. You are a gladiator; a gladiator Minneapolis bound; with a beautiful future ahead of you. You can do this.”

Ten minutes later, with newfound determination, the pair were back on the road.

I called them on the cell phone to monitor their progress whilst McFadden and Whitehead sung “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” in the background.

Call after call, my mother reassured me that no, they were not stopping at iffy rest stops where serial killers might lurk.

My niece complained that the road seemed endless and my mother complained that her legs were swelling.

Coco, the eight pound Maltese, didn’t complain but you could hear him crying in the background.

As they journeyed on, I heard them describe the long winding country roads of West Virginia, the chaotic traffic in Chicago, and how the minute they drove through the Wisconsin border, they developed a craving to eat cheese.

On the first night, I heard them shriek in perfect unison when they saw the tub in their motel room.

“Oh my God! I think someone was murdered in this tub! These brown streaks could be oxidized blood! OH MY GOD!! There’s a spider on top of one of the beds!”

It didn’t take more for my niece to demand her money be returned.

Three minutes later they were getting back in the car to drive to the Holiday Inn, located two streets down.

“I thought you were trying to keep expenses down,” I said, when I called an hour later.

“I’m also trying to avoid having to drive to the nearest hospital so granny and I can get tetanus shots. And really, did you expect us to sleep in sheets that were harboring more semen than a sperm bank? I knew I should have packed one of those ultraviolet lights the CSI people use.”

“And the Holiday Inn, how is it?”

“Let’s just say that unlike the previous establishment, the clerks don’t look like characters in Deliverance.”

The drive through Indiana resulted in this gem of a conversation.

“Oh my God. Can these roads be any creepier? I feel like granny and I are driving through a ghost town.”

“Did you get the Tom Tom to work?”

“I smashed it back in North Carolina with the bat I brought for protection.”

“Great. Now what are you using as a navigational tool?”

“The GPS on my three-year old cell phone. Oh, and granny’s trying to make heads and tails of an old map I found in the glove compartment.”

“Dear Lord, Granny’s reading the map? You’d be better off if you gave it to the dog to decipher.”

“Are ghost towns common in Indiana?”

“Are you even in Indiana?”

“This place looks pretty retro. So yeah, I think so.”

Driving through Chicago resulted in this dialogue.

“Auntie B, I cannot do this! I feel a thermal nuclear breakdown coming on! These people drive like maniacs and I’ve lost count of how many lanes this highway has!”

“I think I may have awarded you the gladiator title prematurely. Maybe I need to demote you to “gladiator-in-training.”

“Absolutely not. I’ve got this.”

I could hear my mother shrieking in the background.

“This old gladiator’s about to call it quits. I can’t feel my legs anymore.”

They stopped in Wisconsin on the second night.

I became alarmed when the person who answered the phone didn’t sound like my niece.

“I think granny and I may have contracted tuberculosis at the last rest stop. We can’t stop coughing.”

“Maybe it’s the dust from all the junk you’re hauling in the SUV.”

“No, this is definitely a reaction to some kind of airborne bacteria.”

“You’re being ridiculous. Woman up and soldier on. Have you eaten?”

“Granny had the last Twinkie and there’s nothing left. At this point, the dog is looking mighty tasty.”

“Why in the heck haven’t you stopped to eat something?”

“Because we took the exit to eat at Wendy’s and spent the next 45 minutes trying to find our way back to the highway.”

The next day, my mother, Coco, and my niece, finally arrived in Minneapolis.

As we speak, they are hitting every thrift store in the area.

According to my niece, the city is a treasure trove of second-hand shops that sell “vintage” items.

I smile as I play, “Ain’t no stopping us now” one more time.

Two women from two generations; one with little life experience; one possessing decades of it.

Both arriving in a new and strange city after three days of driving.

Fearless gladiators; that’s what they are.

Mom and Niece, I salute you.

When was the last time you took a road trip?

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66 thoughts on “Road trip, anyone?

  1. I have made almost all Europe by car, and more than once. The main destination was to Spain, but we also went to France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and I was the one with the map in hand :)

    1. Nikki, are you a good map reader? I have to say I’m also pretty handy when it comes to deciphering street names and landmarks! How wonderful to tour Europe by car! :)

  2. Oh, my goodness, bless them. Most especially, bless your Mom – no, your niece, no, your… Bless them both. ;-)

    Just back in February, and before that the end of December. I love road trips! They are always an adventure. :-) xo

    1. Ellen, you’ve made me chuckle! At this point, they both need blessings! My mother tells me she’s still trying to recover! hee hee! I have to admit I’m not too fond of road trips. The junk food just kills me and my kidney’s are the size of lima beans, so you can imagine how many pee breaks we have to make! :)

  3. This sounds like some of the roadtrip/tours my son has done with his band, in fact, he tells me there are places in the Southern States where even if they had to go to the bathroom they just kept driving through! Go Granny!!!

    1. Elizabeth, sexist as this sounds, not stopping for bathroom breaks is typically a guy thing. I still remember going on a cross-country trip with my sister and her family and having to practically threaten her husband with bodily harm if he didn’t stop. Men. They want to reach their destination as quickly as possible at whatever the cost. Intolerable! :)

  4. “Granny had the last Twinkie!!!” :) Road trips pair so well with junk food, don’t they? From the sound of it, you practically went on this grueling road trip yourself! Take a good rest now, Bella.

    1. Jann, you ain’t kidding! I don’t want to think what my phone bill is going to be like! I think we all deserve a little break from all that driving! hee hee! Would you believe the junk food is what I most hate when driving cross-country? For some reason, I always have a belly ache when I consume it. Must be all the sugar! :)

  5. I loved this post!!! I can see the trip through your conversations. :) My Husby and I have been on many, many road trips across north America and Europe. And the UK. (Which was a tale in itself as he learned to drive on the opposite side of the road.) The last road trip my husby and I were on was last December to Utah for a book signing tour. We were booked into 16 stores in 2 weeks. What a trip! (In more ways than one.) We travelled all right, but Husby got sick on the way down and sicker on the way back. Required hospitalization when we got home. But at least we got home!!! Ready for the next one! :)

    1. Diane, poor Husby! Bless his heart for soldiering on! I smiled at the thought of your Husby driving on the opposite side of the road. Indeed, not an endeavor for the faint of heart! I love your enthusiasm, woman! It’s contagious and now I’m ready to go on a road trip! hee hee! :)

  6. Thus the reality of road trips. They sound good when you are planning them, but once you are ON them….the truth hits like a slap in the face! BUT….the memories are always sweet no matter what!

    1. Michael Ann, road trips are like that old television commercial that shows the family excited at going to the beach but then when asked where they’re coming back from, they reply in a low and lethargic tone, “From the beach.” So yes, at the start, it’s wonderful but toward the end, you just want it to be over! Nevertheless, you’re right–the memories are wonderful and they provide so many giggles! :)

  7. Who cares about the Tom Tom and al others misfortunes – imagine the fun and the memories they are building together. I would give up a lot to have a chance to go with my granny on the road trip, wouldn’t you?

    1. Ariana, I would do anything to go on a road trip with nana! She was a wonderful storyteller so I can just imagine how wonderful it would be to sit in a car and listen to her tales of yesteryear. Is your nana still alive? And I’m with you–who needs a Tom Tom to worry about when you’re busy laughing at all the mishaps and twists and turns! :)

  8. Oh, I love road trips…starting from age 17 I took them as frequently as I could. Babies slowed me down a bit-a 10 hour drive with a screaming 12 month old kept me home for years-but now that they’re more pleasant we have started them up again!

    1. Mamawolfe, one of the best road trips I took involved driving from North Carolina to Arizona with my parents and two children, at the time. We made it in 23 hours but I almost died in the process. It’s something I won’t ever repeat. I was following my sister and her family at the time with the only exception that her and her husband tagged team the drive and I had to go at it alone. Dear Lord, I get tired just thinking about it! :)

    1. Kim, the niece has already found a pair of Oscar de la Renta pumps for five bucks! hee hee! Hey, you’re quite close to the ladies! That’s good to know! Hugs and kisses to you from Roxy and me! :)

    1. Belle, you must write about those times! You’re a master storyteller so methinks it would be a wonderful post! I’m delighted you like the post! :)

  9. I always wanted to take a cross-country trip and this one sounds a hoot. Don’t you wish you could’ve gone along (though it feels like you did!) Great job of telling their story. Too funny. Favorite line was the one about the dog being better at reading a map than poor Coco. Ha ha! I’m still laughing!

    1. Monica, thank you for your kind words, sister. It’s always good to hear I’ve succeeded at tickling your funny bone! You’re right–I was almost along for the ride. Nevertheless, I wish I had physically been there to witness all the meltdowns! My mom says she’s still trying to recover the feeling in her legs! ha! :)

  10. No road trips for me, I’m afraid – I’d either be sleepy with all the Dramamine I had to take, or, if I didn’t take it, well, you don’t want that picture in your mind.

    I will be going to Zagreb at the end of the month, though, that’s a few hours drive, we’ll be there for 4 days, and someone mentioned that one of those 4 days we might drive to Slovenia and to the sea and back – does that count as a road trip? If it’s enough that I have to pack a lot of Dramamine? :)

    1. Ivana, that most definitely counts as a road trip! I think you’ll be okay for the length of this trip without the Dramamine. Just make sure to stop for breath air and to stretch your legs! :)

  11. Your Mom is one brave lady and your niece is showing a great spirit of adventure too. I’m glad they arrived safe and are plundering the stores! Our last road trip was not too far away but was the first long one we took with Pablo and I’m afraid it wasn’t very exciting for him – especially since we got caught in a bad traffic jam on the way home.

    1. Oh Corinne, a traffic jam! Those are no fun and Pablo must have not been a happy camper! I spoke to my sister today and she told me my niece and my mom have found great treasures in the few thrift stores they’ve visited. Now that alone is an adventure in my book! :)

  12. Hysterical! I love the dialogue! What an adorable pair these two are and they will have amazing memories, blood stained bathtub and all. I love roadtrips and some of the most hellish ones are now my fondest memories ( since I lived to tell about them.)

    1. Cheapgirl, isn’t it wonderful when you live to tell the tale? hee hee! I’m sure these two will be narrating these stories at every family gathering! And really, why is it that the hellish road trips are the ones that provide us with the fondest memories? :)

  13. My parents took my brother and I on a lot of road trips, but I’ve never been on a road trip as an adult. Whenever I think about taking one, I remember I hate being in the car and get motion sickness.

    I’m glad they made it! Maybe one day I’ll try it.

    1. I think that the reason we don’t take as many road trips when we’re adults is because, having experienced them as children, we know what to expect. Thankfully, if we have children of our own, we can subject them to the torture and keep the circle of life in motion. hee hee! Thank you for your kind words, lady. :)

    1. Patrice, most certainly those clerks add to the character of this story! Oh my goodness, I can almost see them! I’m tickled pink you decided to join us virtually on this road trip! :)

  14. They survived. And without acquiring some terminal illness. Amazing in these bed-buggy days.

    I remember was with my parents in a car with no A/C. Mom smoked, I remember taking Dramamine to combat the motion sickness combined with second-hand smoke.

    Would have been great to have a video cam on for the duration, wouldn’t it?

    1. Eloise, or at the very least a camera! I remember taking those little disposable cameras along when we went on road trips when I was a child. My sisters and I were given one camera and told we could take pictures of anything we wanted. The majority of the time we snapped photos of my nana sleeping, or my mom, or of each other. Happy times! :)

  15. The best line: “…did you expect us to sleep in sheets that were harboring more semen than a sperm bank?” Why, no dear, of course not! What an amazing story! Good for them. Bella, you were their St. Christopher the whole way!
    I *LOVE*, love, love a good road trip. My kids will tell you my most annoying habit (ok, one of many) is the fact that I sing Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” song before every trip. Did I mention I love road trips? Hubby, kids, girl friends, dogs; I don’t care just git on board :)
    I do recall taking an 8-hour road tip with my elderly grandmother once. Basket of food, humongous thermos of coffee … I think we spent just as much time in the restrooms as in the car!!

    1. Astra, I mentioned to my mom that you said I was their St. Christopher and she said, “Finally, a woman of faith who believes.” Now she wants to be your best friend! hee hee! I love the idea of bringing along a basket of food and a huge thermos of coffee! This sure beats the crappy fast food we often consume on long road trips! Grannies are the best road trip companions. They have a way of either making you laugh till your sides hurt or of keeping the peace when fights break out! ha! I’m so happy you like the story! :)

    1. Renee, three days later, we’re still talking about it! Today I found out that on the last day, my mother slept almost the entire time! :)

  16. The idea of a road trip is always better than the actuality, depending, of course, on your traveling companion(s)! When I was a kid, my dad would only stop for gas, so potty breaks were few and far between. Food stops, too. And I hate to say it, but my Sheltie is a better traveler than my mom, who can’t pass up a chance to pee! Domer and I do pretty well together, so there is that!

    1. Debbie, your mother sounds like she’s related to my mother and I most definitely have some sort of connection as well since I can’t go for more than an hour without a potty break! Perhaps this is the reason other family members don’t like to take me along! ha! The Son are great flying companions. We have a system that works wonderfully. However, I don’t know if we’d be good road trip buddies. I’m a high strung back seat driver! hee hee! :)

  17. The best thing about my road trips with Lola is that she can’t tell me I’m going the wrong way. :) We have an easy route from my house to my parents’ house, though. It takes 2 very long days, but we only drive on two interstates and a few local highways. I do plan my hotel stops and make reservations ahead of time. It makes me feel much more secure to spend the night at a place I know.

    1. Shary, you’re a smart cookie! I love your planning skills! I always say that a woman with a plan is fearless. I think this is something the niece will have to do next time. Like you mention, it’s best to stay in places you’re acquainted with. I can imagine what a wonderful traveling companion Lola must be! :)

  18. I am absolutely horrible at road tripping. I don’t possess the spirit nor the enthusiasm to sit through hours and hours of driving. My butt gets achy and then I get cranky. And hungry. Then after each stop to get food, I feel bloated and fat. And I won’t use the iffy restrooms at stops either. EW. total ew.

    1. Laura, I think we can safely conclude that you are NOT a road trip kind of person! But that’s okay! You can always fly and that’s a lot more fun! Your comment of “My butt gets achy and then I get cranky,” made me giggle! I’m the same way! :)

  19. Gosh I love this blog. Your blog. Your wonderful way with description and detail. The dialogue is fabulous! I must say, that was one helluva roadtrip!! Hooray that you were championing them on all the way. And hooray for your mom..incredible that she made the journey and made such lasting memories for your niece and you. Too fun! Glad they made it, glad they didn’t stay in the creepy motel, and so glad you popped by so I could read this!!! You are so very kind Bella..I really mean it! Thank you!

    1. Shirley, I just love you! Thank you for your sweet words. They make my heart sing, lady! I’m so happy you like the story. I too am glad the pair did not stop at the Norman Bates motel! God only knows what awaited them there! ha! It’s funny how even that will be a memory they won’t soon forget! :)

  20. I LOVE road trips. I have yet to take Randall on a road trip, but he’s so calm & chilled out in the car. He just kinda sits there and gets bored quickly.

    1. Kirstin Marie, would you believe Roxy sleeps through the majority of our car trips? She hasn’t yet gone on a long road trip but she’s the best air traveler in the family! She sleeps all the way to her destination! Randall is a laid back kind of dude so I can imagine he’d be that way in the car as well! :)

  21. That is CLASSIC. I’m not a huge road trip fan myself, mostly because of the nasty food you have to eat, but I’d have piled in with Granny and broken Tom Toms just for the giggle factor — especially if I could have jumped out of the bloody tub to make them scream. Ha!

    1. Lori, I can see you jumping out of the tub! ha! I think you would be a wonderful road trip companion! We must plan on the next time you come to Europe! :)

  22. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a road trip. Can’t say I miss them, although I used to like driving to Florida on such flat land and seeing palm trees. Gas is terribly expensive now, so…

    Did they pack any snacks or sandwiches to start off? A have a friend who keeps a small cooler in her backseat in the summer, which will be what I’ll start doing. A road trip is surely one way of testing your patience though.

    1. Totsy, they did pack snacks but those quickly dwindled to nothing as they munched on them to keep anxiety at bay! hee hee! Tell me about the price of gas! My mother claims it’s “outrageous”! I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the increasing costs since I don’t have a car and have to either walk or take public transport. The daughter drives to Florida and says the ride is quite enjoyable! :)

    2. The daughter is right. And this time of year is perfect driving time to Florida since it’s spring. Only thing is, gas is very expensive there. Wish I had access to public transportation where I live. If you don’t have a car, you’re kinda stuck.

    3. Totsy, that’s one of the things that drives my mom mad when she’s back in the States–the lack of public transport. She hates to depend on anyone and like you mention, finds herself in situational house arrest. I think that’s one of the reasons she signs up for these kooky missions! hee hee! :)

  23. Road trip? Oh hell, yesssss please! That’s exactly the kind of thing I need right now! Especially with you, your mum and your niece! I think we would have a lot of fun together! ;) It might be even more chaotic with me on board, though… consider yourself warned… Haha!

    1. Sabrina, we would be honored and delighted to have you on board! Just don’t forget to bring along a dozen of the delicious cupcakes you make! hee hee! :)

    2. Oh, Bella, if you take me along you don’t have to worry about sweet treats at all. I always bring dozens of good things. :D

    3. Sabrina, your comment made me smile! You know I’m kidding, right? We’d take you along with or without the treats, lady! But FYI, I’m glad you’re bringing dozens of things! hee hee! :)

    1. Lisa, isn’t it fun to make such wonderful family memories? I truly think memories like these will be what sustain me in my old age! hee hee! I’m so happy you liked the post, lady! Thank you for stopping by! :)

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