We made it to Michigan in record time - fourteen hours, thirty minutes, I think. It only felt like twenty-two. The kids traveled great, in part because they slept through the last seven hours or so. This happens when you arrive at your destination at 4:30 a.m..
My dear Dad was giving me a hard time about driving straight through.
"You should have stopped!" he barked.
My father is a worrier of the highest order, a man who has elevated normal parental concern to an art form. He is all about life jackets and weather reports, swimming lessons and warm clothing. Whenever my sister makes a random, slightly neurotic comment about a safety issue, her husband says, "Yes, Keith."
Keith is my father's first name. Worry is his middle name.
So we would have been safer if we had stopped, according to Dad. I felt compelled to take us on a trip down memory lane thirty-five years ago. Mom and Dad loaded up the woody station wagon and headed for I-75 en route from Michigan to Florida. Twenty-four hours start to finish, without a DVD player and without a stop.
I don't think my parents drove twenty-four hours straight for the sheer joy of watching the sun rise over the Blue Ridge Mountains. No, I think they had a basic survival strategy on their minds. Traveling with four kids is much more pleasant when they are all a-snoozing.
Despite our exhaustion the trip was a safe one and, for the most part, a peaceful one. But as we passed the half-way point in West Virginia, Dave and I found ourselves getting a little snippy with each other.
We rarely argue about big issues. Truth be told, we are of one mind on all of the really big issues and many of the fairly big ones. We would be reduced to squabbling over trivial items like toilet seats left up or toothpaste caps unscrewed but one of the two of us (that would be Dave) is far too tidy to even think of such slovenly behavior.
But then there are driving styles. Ours are different, and those differences seemed to magnify as the hour grew late and the number on the odometer crept up.
Dave got snippy, and I responded in kind. The hour grew later, and the odometer continue its climb.
We passed a sign that read "Pax, West Virginia."
"Let's call it Pax!" Dave said. I was enjoying my stew far too much to grasp this olive branch. Mostly I was thinking about the Reeces Peanut Butter cups I had so carefully snuck into the car past the eagle eyes of our fledgling chocoholics. One for me, one for Dave, I had thought. But that was before his comment about my driving. All for me now!
"Tim, get the GPS" Dave directed. "Search for 'Angst.' Is there an Angst, West Virginia?"
Dave rubbed my arm , and I relented. I passed his share of the peanut butter cups. The van continued its ramble north.