It started on an innocent Thursday before the Fourth of July, a fact which my friend and I failed to take into account in the planning of our trip to my grandparents' house in Kilmarnock, Virginia. This just in: There is a lot of traffic on the Thursday before the Fourth of July. (Don't these people have jobs? Which they often perform on Fridays as well?) More to the point, my friend Kay was driving us in her mini van, which contained a somewhat ancient GPS navigation device. Now, rather than go on a paragraph-long tangent explaining the various deficiencies in my mental faculties when it comes to directions and/or driving, let's just skip to the end and say that somehow, by some series of fateful accidents or poor judgments, we ended up following the GPS system's directions, rather than the much more correct ones written out with care by my wonderful mother. (I know, I know, that was clearly a mistake. Let's move on.)
Unfortunately, we didn't realize until it was too late that the demon-possessed piece of machinery was taking us on a somewhat indirect route that was not exactly time-efficient. Before we knew it, we were stuck on the major highway we were specifically told to avoid, along with hundreds of SUVs loaded with bikes, rafts, kayaks, dog skis, and every manner of vacation paraphernalia you can imagine. At this point, we had been on the road for about twenty minutes. For clarity's sake, I'll break down the rest of the trip by the hour. Please keep in mind that the average duration of the trip to Kilmarnock is usually just over the three-hour mark...
HOUR ONE: First call to my father, asking to please please tell us how to get off of this godforsaken, traffic-filled Highway of Doom. Dad laughs, then suggests an alternate route, which, while highly effective, is a lot of information for my sad little dyspraxic brain to handle.
HOUR TWO: After exiting the Highway of Doom, we attempt (with mild success, we think) to follow Dad's directions.
HOUR THREE: We stop at a nice Subway for a late lunch. Sadly, they are out of Italian herbs & cheese bread. Nonetheless, we are having a lovely time bumbling towards our destination.
HOUR FOUR: We really, really have to pee, so we desperately pull into a parking lot. Unfortunately, the only building that appears to be open is an urgent care clinic. We burst into the empty waiting room, giving quite a shock to the nice Indian family who appears to be on-duty (four-year-old son included) and ask if we can use their restroom. They kindly direct us to the bathroom, still looking quite surprised and, frankly, a little disappointed that they couldn't help us with any kind of real medical crisis.
HOUR FIVE: "Airplanes" by B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams comes on the stereo for the fifth time, and we sing along like our lives depend on it. Then we start to suspect we may have missed our turn. I call my father for the third time to ask him what we should do. (By this point, we're pretty sure we can hear the GPS system laughing at us.) When Dad asks where we are, I tell him the last sign I saw in front of a church said we were passing through the town of Ladysmith (which I have never heard of). The conversation is as follows:
Dad: Where are you guys?
Me (shouting): Lady. Smith.
(At this point I contemplate referencing the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, but then I figure it would just add more confusion, as Dad has probably never heard of them anyway, so one more time, everybody...)
Dad: Where the hell is Ladysmith?
Me: I asked you first.
As it turns out, we missed our turn miles and miles ago, and are considerably far off course (oops). After conferring with my father regarding our next move, we stop at a Wal-Mart so Kay can buy a bathing suit (which she forgot to pack). Kay also finds an adorable black sweater-hoodie, which I refuse to admit that I secretly want, because it's part of Miley Cyrus' new clothing line, and she disgusts me. I am also disgusted by myself a little bit, because I end up buying some things for ridiculously low prices even though I hate supporting such a heartless corporation like Wal-Mart. We then proceed to the McDonald's drive-through where we grab a greasy late night snack to distract us from the fact that we have been driving for five hours and are still not even close to our destination.
HOUR SIX: It is really, really dark outside now, and there's no one else on this winding country road, surrounded by fields of seven-foot-tall corn on both sides. Kay insists on mentioning every scary movie I've never seen in an attempt to freak both of us out even more than we already are by our circumstances. All of a sudden Kay simultaneously slams on the gas, locks all the doors, and screams, "OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD." I am sufficiently startled, and yell, "WHAT IS IT?" Kay says to me, while still looking very determinedly at the dark road down which she is speeding, "There was a person crouching in the bushes." Now it's my turn to scream "OH MY GOD." We alternate between hysterical laughter and deliriously screeching in fear for the next eight miles or so.
HOUR SEVEN: After a fifth (or was it the sixth?) call to my father to double-check our whereabouts, we finally arrive at the house, after an arduous seven-hour journey (which, you may recall, is usually about a three-hour journey).
Despite the extra four hours, the mediocre Subway bread, the sketchiest McDonald's in Virginia, and the person crouching in the bushes, it was still one of the best road trips ever.