The Roadshow

Road Trip   I love the idea of road trips – seeing the countryside, visiting friends, setting our own pace…

Notice I’m saying that I love the idea of road trips. The reality of life on the road is somewhat less, um, romantic. Over the past five weeks, I’ve slept in my own bed a total of eight times. Finding the bathroom in the bleary middle of the night has become a game of chance, and I can’t remember the last time I cooked a meal.

Our girls, who shall henceforth be known as Whine and Cheese, are passionate people, and traveling with them is not a quiet experience. Cheese spends a while singing every movie anthem known to mankind, alternating between a Yoda accent and a Donald Duck voice. Whine listens with pursed lips, and then sings along for about a minute before sighing dramatically and groaning, “Stop iiiiiiiiit!” This creates silence for approximately three seconds, until Cheese announces that she’s starving to death and Whine yells over her sister that she needs to go potty.

Time to stop. There’s a choice between gas station hot dogs, a dubious looking Tex Mex restaurant, and fast food. Burgers and fries it is. Again.

By this point we’re about half way through the day’s ten hour drive, and we’re wild-eyed and wild-haired. The poor girl at the register has no idea what hit her. We try to string semi-coherent thoughts together into a quick order, while Whine and Cheese add their own details at top volume.

“Plain. I want mine plain. Just the meat, the cheese, and the bread!”

“Lemonade mixed with Sprite!”

“No fries. Wait. Yes, I do want fries.”

“I NEED TO GO POTTY!!!”

I feel my blood pressure rise and the heat creep into my face. “That’s it! Nobody but Dad is allowed to talk. Ever again!” (Ok, so that reaction may have been a little out of proportion…)

Seven trips to the bathroom, a spilled drink, and a case of indigestion later, we’re back on the road. Cheese pulls out her algebra homework, and Whine rhythmically chants, “I’m not sleepy, I’m not sleepy,” until she slumps quiet in her car seat.

The hum of the tires on the road. The splat of bugs on the windshield. The scratch of pencil on paper. My trusty husband at the wheel… I start to drift off.

“Mom!” A stage whisper from the back seat. “MOM! Why did the chicken cross the monastery? To get away from the friar! Get it?”

“Funny,” I take a deep breath. “Try to concentrate on your math.”

“I am! I just had to graph how many eggs some chickens might lay.”

The rest of the afternoon rolls by through periods of silence and squabbles, sticky fingered tickle fights, and jogged laps around rest area parking lots.

And then, just as our last threads of sanity start showing wear and tear, we are there.

We blink our gritty eyes and smile grimy and weary as we hug our hosts. Heavy bags are unloaded and dragged through the house to the guest bedroom, and we ask ourselves again how just four people can need so much stuff.

Over supper, we come alive as we catch up and answer questions about our work in Papua New Guinea and about where we’re headed next. Then finally, finally, we stretch sore muscles, knowing that tomorrow we load up the car and do it all over again.

“Your girls travel so well,” our hosts say in the morning. “How good that you have all this time together. What an adventure!”

And you know what? They’re right!

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