Thirteen Hour Detour
At the last minute, we decide to drive southeast to Richmond, Virginia rather than staying safely inland on I-81. “We’ll surprise them!” my parents and I chorused, as we all agreed on the change in plans and left a cheerful message on my other Uncle’s message machine. “We’re on our way! Don’t go to any trouble! Just staying for one night!”
The short version of the day is this: It took thirteen hours to travel 440 miles. Don’t bother doing the math; just imagine the speed of a tortoise on barbituates. What we were thinking when we decided to take I-95 two days after Christmas is beyond me.
We drove through New York City, where I pressed my nose against the glass and gazed at projects in the Bronx and imagined another life for myself. We must have spent at least three hours getting through the city. Even the new buildings still under construction were dirty. Newark and Trenton were like cracked ribs along the way; they slowed us down but we refused to reevaluate our route, foolishly imagining that the traffic would subside as we traveled south.
We spent an ungodly amount of time in Delaware; this, my friends, is difficult to do. Relatively speaking, Delaware might as well be the size of a piss puddle in Texas. Somehow it took us over two hours to cross the grand Delaware Memorial Bridge – a punishment for which we payed $3 at the toll booth. Is it me, or is something backwards here?
The George Washington Bridge and D.C. altogether must have taken four hours. It was a disgusting experience. City after city, mile after mile, we dragged ourselves down the interstate at snail’s pace, hoping, praying, that my Uncle Mark would be home (suspciously, they had not returned our calls).
Rest Areas were akin to the twilight zone. Televisions blared, babies screamed, people became fat just entering into the slosh and squish of the disgusting fast food mazes. It is utterly disorienting to be in a place where not a single soul intends to stop. Everyone is either coming or going. Today I learned that Hell for me would consist of a series of turnpike rest stops, revolving doors, clocks with noisy second hands, Yankees fans, and overpriced salty peanuts.
It turns out that Uncle Mark did get home in time, arriving with family in tow just ten minutes after we pulled into his driveway. My teddy-bear cute cousins rolled out of the car like doughnut holes down a slide and filled my arms with giggly hugs. Of course we were welcome, of course they got our messages, of course, of course, of course.
Within minutes the kids were in bed and the adults clinked wine glasses in the kitchen. Mom decided to have Scotch on ice and her brother joined her. Tomorrow? Seven hours, if all goes well, and we’ll be back in the cradling arms of the beloved Black Mountains. It’s been a fascinating trip, full of love, boredom, generosity, gas guzzling, friendship, and some good old R&R.