Dad’s Version of the Events:
Day Five: The Final Frontier.
These have been the Voyages of the Crew Cab Pickup, Frontier.
It’s five-day mission: To explore strange, new roads; to seek out new family members and their new idiosyncracies; to boldly go where Daughter and I have never gone before . . . . Whooooosh!!!
That “whoosh” was not the sound of the warp drive engaging. Rather, it was the Mistral-like trade winds that buffeted us in the face every mile of the way since we left Dallas early Sunday morning.
And today was different, in that the hot, humid Texas heat was replaced by the searing, dry New Mexico and Arizona heat. Why do people live in such places? I’ll never know.
All I can say is Thank God for modern air conditioning and cruise control, which meant for us that our daily distance was more a function of our bladders and bleary-eyed fatigue than any sort of truck-dependent mechanical factors. For the past couple of days, I reminisced to myself about the long-distance drives of my youth, in a Chevy Vega, no less. You see, I had plenty of time to think to myself, since Daughter was usually good for one solid driving stint per day, with the balance of her other time spent napping, staring at her iPhone, and standing Tarp Watch.
But back to the Days of Yore, it was no air conditioning, no cruise control, no problem. In my foolish, youthful long-distance driving zeal, I even used to roll up the passenger window during those incredibly hot and long summer journeys, thinking what I lost in perspiration was more than made up by improved aerodynamics.
What a bunch of crap that notion was! No way, man. It would have been better to have driven naked with all the windows down compared to what I actually put myself through otherwise. However, I find those past experiences a useful context to judge how easy it is for me now. Instead of worrying if I’ll blow an engine or have a flat, I’m more concerned about how far off the Interstate the next Starbucks happens to be.
It’s really sickening, when I think about it, but I will leave the pain and denial in my life to my gardening adventures (that damn clover!), while I prefer my driving to be comfortable and relatively stress free.
Never one to leave well enough alone, though, I induced stress on this latest trip by initiating a series of questions (historical) and transportational (practical) to gauge both Daughter’s general level of awareness and as well as her basic competencies in both areas. Of course, best of all, it also offered me the chance to impart generational wisdom.
The results were mixed. On the one hand, Daughter is a very intelligent and sensitive young woman, who has much to offer to the world which, one day, will award her a Pulitzer Prize. On the other hand, she has a hard time figuring out miles per gallon and doesn’t react very well to the question/phrases, “Well, what would you do if I weren’t here?” and “That’s just an observation; not a criticism.”
In the end, we made it home safely today; we’re still talking to each other, though I don’t understand a lot of what she says; we still enjoy each other’s company (most of the time); and we both have an inherent dislike for Left Lane Bandits and Other Morons of the Open Road (of which there are plenty, and increasing daily, it seems).
Years from now, when my great, great grandchildren ask me about this trip and the most important lesson learned, I will slowly wipe away the spittle from my lower lip, adjust my diaper, and look deeply into the eyes of whichever kid I can focus on and grumble, “Never use yarn to tie down a tarp in a pickup truck bed. It really sucks and doesn’t work
for shi very well.”
Thanks, Daughter. Now I have something to look forward to!
Daughter’s Version of Events:
We made great time today because Dad fell asleep for a long stretch of the trip and after a quick risk assessment, I took liberties with the speed limit. The speed limit on a two-lane interstate is mostly a guide anyway, n’est-ce pas? As usual, semi-truck drivers and people who must have been in and out of R.E.M. sleep behind the wheel were great dangers on the road. But, to be fair, I’m also a hazard to myself because I get very competitive with semi-trucks who try to pass. They put on that blinker and it signals me to speed up while waggling my finger angrily at the driver. Usually, this is enough to discourage the driver from careening into my lane. It gives me a sick sense of pleasure depriving trucks the ability to cross into my lane in front of me. Maybe this is because I inherited the jerk gene. I hear it gets passed down through the Y chromosome only…
Today, other drivers were not a huge issue. I had bigger problems to worry about, like the giant dust devils that appeared out of nowhere and swept across the road without warning. Dad was asleep when one decided to cross the road right into the truck and I was temporarily thrown around a bit. Luckily, the truck was weighed down my pounds and pounds of my belongings so there was no way I was going anywhere. I was briefly terrified which helped to keep me awake. Maybe I should just watch horror films while I drive. I would be distracted, sure, but I’d be awake!
We also passed a lot of border patrol stops today and my father tested out some new material he must have been working on:
“Okay, Daughter, try not to look too Mexican. Think about being white.”
“PUT DOWN THE BURRITO.”
“Graci- I mean, thank you!!”
When we finally got home (the last hour was torture), I immediately forced my younger sister into indentured servitude and had her carry boxes from the truck. It turns out she is stronger than me. She’s only 11 but she has the bicep strength of an adult Slovakian wrestler.
My room is currently full of unpacked boxes and I am full of the promise of new tomorrows!! No, wait, I’m just full from dinner.