I remember the good ol’ days. That was when the drive from Seattle to Eugene, 280 miles on I-5, was only 5 hours.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, such a fast trip is no longer possible. Nor is it possible on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We spent eight hours driving south, seven coming north. There were more backups, slowdowns, and stoppages than I could count. A couple of accidents, crumpled bumpers and tow trucks. One truck bore the telltale sign of someone’s head hitting the windshield. That round pattern of broken glass made us both somber.
To add to the driving challenges, we had rain. First, the mist, which drives me crazy because I don’t have intermittent wipers. Then hard rain, coming down so fast those same wipers were on high and struggling to keep up with the torrents. Then sleet, hail, and finally, a mini-blizzard.
All the weather and traffic did make the driving a challenge. But inside the car, it was a different story.
Inside the car, were warm and toasty and dry. We had great music from the iPod, plugged into an old-fashioned cassette adapter. We jammed to R&B and then switched to Jimmy Buffett, singing along off-key. When we stopped for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, the non-driver went to Margaritaville.
Maybe I was just happy because I love going to see my two sisters. Maybe it was because I was looking forward to three days of eating all the things that are verboten on the South Beach diet — mashed potatoes, and pie, and stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
Or maybe I’m just nuts.
That’s probably what the people in the rest area thought when they saw me. They were battered and wearied by the traffic and the weather. Maybe they weren’t looking forward to the family visits ahead. Or maybe they just forgot to have fun.
Me, I was skipping.
Not rope-skipping, or stone-skipping. Just skipping.
I skipped all the way from one end of the rest area to the other. And when I got back to Barry, we swung each other in circles, and he started skipping, too.
Barry is the one who discovered the magic of skipping in rest areas. He and his sister can skip circles around me. They get lots of height in their skips, and they both have long legs, so they cover a lot of ground. I could hardly keep up, and I’d just end up galloping along behind them, laughing until I fell over.
The problem with skipping is that after a little while, I can’t catch my breath. Not from the exercise, from the laughter. I simply cannot keep from laughing while I skip. The more I skip, the harder I laugh, until I am incapacitated.
But that’s the way road trips ought to be. Skipping around the rest areas until you can’t breathe, and then laughing the rest of the way there.