Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Maxims of Travel

Some people love traveling by car—they enjoy driving and watching the scenery fly past. I am not one of those people. Give me an airplane any day. I love climbing aboard and getting where I need to be in a few hours or less. Of course, I tend to buy a margarita at the Mexican restaurant situated in the middle of the airport. Not because I’m a nervous flyer (I actually don’t mind turbulence—having a father who was a commercial pilot and taught me what turbulence is and how the plane responds took care of that.) No, the reason I drink the margarita is so I’m tired enough that I can get on board, grab a pillow and a blanket and sleep. It really helps fend off the almost inevitable time change-induced migraine.

But enough about air travel, we traveled by car. Car travel always has certain givens. Things that always happen. A kind of Murphy’s Law for trips that I’ll call Connie’s Maxims of Travel.

Rule #1

When you are driving and not hungry, fast food chains will be at every exit. In fact, at every stop you could choose between Chick-fil-a, Pizza Hut, Subway, McDonalds, Hardees or even Long John Silver. However, when you are hungry and in the middle of Nowhereville, Georgia, you will not be able to find a single fast food store. Instead, you will continue to fill your stomach with the Runts, pretzels, jawbreakers, Cheetos, and Swedish fish that you brought for the children. (I brought granola bars too, but no one wants to eat those.) Eventually, we found a place that the children referred to as Taco’s Smell, and we ate there. BTW, 12 tacos and 8 burritos can be eaten by our clan without anyone pausing to talk, even after all the candy. And, even worse, they hit the candy bag as soon as we got back into the car. In deference to the ladies, it was the guys who inhaled all the food.

Rule #2

Actually, this is sort of Rule #1, part B, since it’s a food scarcity thing. When you need an infusion of caffeine, you can’t find a Starbucks anywhere. Starbucks isn’t actually my favorite coffee (theirs tasted burned to me), but a café mocha or a java chip frappachino is a perfect pick me up. We couldn’t even find a Mickey Ds for coffee. You see how desperate we were? MD’s coffee tastes like road tar. They should really take a cue from Starbucks, toss some chocolate in their coffee and advertize dark chocolate java with essence of road tar. I’m sure I’m not the only weary traveler who’d buy it. But why is there no Starbucks between Atlanta and Wilmingon, NC?!

Rule #3

At some point during the drive my husband Calvin will toss me the map/directions and need an immediate answer to a “which way do we go” question. I, trying to turn the map right side up or decipher Mapquest’s odd syntax, will give Cal the wrong directions. This time, however, we only ended up twelve miles out of our way. He now has the directions firmly planted on his lap. Enough said.

Rule #4

No matter what time of the year or where I travel, I will run into road construction. Last year it was road construction in Orlando two days before Christmas. What state in their right mind, shuts down four out of five lanes of their northbound highway at 5pm two days before Christmas? Um, hello, has the state of Florida ever heard of holiday travel?

Today was the state of South Carolina’s Day of Mowing and Road Work. I’m not sure why they want to mow and do road work at the same time, but they did. The interstate was narrowed to one left lane while the workers repaved the right lane. In the left lane, I drove behind mowers. They go 20 mph. We laughed at the 70 mph signs. Afterwards I felt compelled to “make-up for lost time.” Cal explained that if I was pulled over that highway patrolman would probably not look favorably on my “let’s just average my rates of speed” excuse. I slowed down. Much to the kids’ chagrin.

Rule #5

No matter how much you dread the trip, the friends you are going to visit are always worth it.


  1. Yep. The dreaded trip is always worth it in the end. The dreaded return trip, however...

  2. Yes the destination is always worth it especially if it's the mountains of NC. We solved the hassle of maps with a Garmin and I would not be without it. Have a great day.

  3. We always bring granola bars on our car trips and never eat them. A real shame.

  4. My mother always brought apples for car trips. She insisted it was because any trash was biodegradeable, so would toss the spent cores into farmers' fiels. Sigh.

    I actually prefer MD's coffee to Starbuck's--they must leave out the road tar around us. Gas station coffee is, I'm fairly sure, made of motor oil, however.

  5. Not being a coffee drinker I can't really say, except my aunt swears McD's "good ole coffee" is the best anywhere. I totally go for the frapaccinos, though.
    We took granola on a car trip once; gave frequent stops for gas a whole new meaning :-). TMI?

  6. We only bring healthy food in the car for road trips--carrot sticks and dried fruit and nuts. Is that heresy? McDonald's coffee is better than it used to be (at least in my town). Starbucks is fine, too. Look, I grew up in the Pacific NW, and I used to be such a coffee snob--wouldn't even touch Starbucks (they actually do go out of their way to over roast or burn their beans). Now, I'll just take the caffeine, thank you.

  7. Connie, when we were kids I remember diging up a little road tar and chewing it! It really wasn't all that bad! Another job for guardian angels, no doubt.