Hank and I recently embarked upon what was for us an epic road trip from Washington, Missouri to New York City to Maryland and back to Washington, Missouri. Flights out of St. Louis were less than optimum, taking us through Atlanta, so we decided to drive to Hank's Mothers' funeral in New York and then to Maryland for family time after the funeral.
For some reason, Hank found it less stressful to do all the driving, so I obliged. Needing to feel useful, I selected music, read books out loud, chatted incessantly, refilled water, supplied the snacks, paid the turnpike fees, and occasionally pulled out the Atlas. Being 100 percent directionally dysfunctional, starting with left and right, the whole Atlas thing completely mystifies me. I am told that I get this trait from my Aunt Jean. I would have preferred to inherit one or two of her other many attributes, but no, I get lost reentering the bedroom from our clothes closet. On a positive note, this trait provides me with one adventure right after another.
Hank excels at directions, so the Atlas review on my part was merely for show, and we both knew it. The first leg of the trip was to take approximately 19 hours. Somewhere in Pennsylvania, things started going south, pun intended. Hank had estimated the turnpike fee at $8, but it soon increased to $12, $13, $14, $16 and climbing as we moved on down the highway toward Philadelphia, looking for the highway number that would be taking us north. Tired, hungry and confused, we stopped. Fortunately there was a huge map in the diner, and immediately Hank realized that we had missed the exit. (It would have taken me days.) After fueling our bodies and car, Hank talked to a fellow traveler who assured us that if we would just take this little road and make this turn and that, we would soon be heading north. Add another 100 + miles to the trip and at least two hours. I've noticed that East coast miles are longer than Midwest miles for some reason.
Listening to the guy in the diner, off we went into beautiful Amish Country, which would have been delightful under other circumstances. The pace of the Amish and our need for speed were not exactly compatible, but eventually we were back on track to New York City, Hank's home town. Deciding a little music couldn't hurt, I turned on the CD player randomly to Paul Simon's Slip Sliding Away, Slip Sliding Away…the Nearer Your Destination, the More You're Slip Sliding Away. The 19 hour trip had been extended by a couple of hours at this point, but we were happy to be heading in the right direction.
We were back on track and making good time, and then the unthinkable happened. Just after entering the state of New York, Hank decided to take a little break. He had seen a McDonald's sign so he peeled off and continued following the sign right back into New Jersey. To add insult to injury, we could see the restaurant, but could not switch lanes fast enough to get there. After backtracking 13 miles to the next exit, we turned around and headed to N.Y.C. once again. Add another 26 east coast miles to the trip. Slip Sliding Away…The darned song became lodged in my memory chip, and I couldn't stop humming it, although I tried to hum discreetly under my breath.
Determined to make it without any more hitches, we focused on getting across the Tappen Zee Bridge and positioning ourselves to peel right at the appropriate lane. Sure enough, we drove past the lane. Literally 5 miles from the hotel, we were once again headed the wrong way. Since being lost is my natural state, I was not nearly as distressed about all of this as Hank. The nearer your destination, the more you're slip sliding away.
We did reach our destination, a bit more frazzled than expected. And Paul Simon and Slip Sliding Away have taken up residence in my brain. I keep humming it and wondering how many times we give up just before reaching our destination?