The countdown is on!
In less than a month I will be taking off on my annual road trip up to Pennsylvania, across into Ohio and then up into Michigan.
It’s a trip I take every year, just me and my boys — but this year, we’re trying something new. Somehow, I talked a friend into going with me.
And just like that, this trip just got a little more crazy.
Let me back up …
My mother, who lives in Michigan, is the logistics manager for a Honda plant. She works insane hours — 12 hour days — and is frequently called in on weekends and on her days off.
Furthermore, because the plant is Japanese owned and ships internationally, holidays that most Americans are accustomed to having off — like Thanksgiving — are treated like just another work day. They have trucks going across the bridge to Canada everyday. Guess who doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving?
Long story short? Because of her job (and the fact she’s 600 miles away) we don’t get the chance to see her very often. Until I learned that every year her plant shuts down for an entire week.
One week of cleaning, machine repairs, inventory — whatever it is up there that they need to do — they do it all that week. The week of the fourth of July.
The idea for The Road Trip was born.
Originally, it was supposed to be me, my husband Jon, and both of our boys, Ben and Sam. But because nothing can ever just work the way it’s supposed to, we found out at the last minute that Jon needed to be in Iowa that week for a conference.
Unwilling to scrap my vacation plans, I made what some people would call an “ambitious” decision: I was going anyway.
And, much to my over-protective mother-in-law’s horror, that’s exactly what I did. I packed up the car, loaded the kids, and we headed North — first to my Dad’s house in Western PA for a couple of days, then on over to my brother’s house in Toledo, Ohio, before swinging on up to Michigan to round out the week at my mom’s.
Not counting stops and detours, the whole loop was 1,687 miles. But this year, I’m not going it alone. My friend Kim is going too. And her three-year-old son, Lee.
Why she agreed to my annual plan of lunacy, I will never know. But I can tell you I really think this trip is going to be the better for it.
For one thing, the drive will go faster. Most people assume that the number one perk would be having an extra driver on the trip and while that’s certainly a plus, it’s not the best part.
In truth, even had Kim not had a driver’s license, I still would have invited her. Why? She has hands.
A dropped sippy cup, a new movie on the portable DVD player — I can’t tell you how many problems could have simply been solved with an extra set of hands instead of requiring me to pull off the freeway.
Kid needs more Goldfish crackers? Bam. She can easily grab into and hand out a bag of snacks as opposed to me trying to do the same while watching the road and going 70 miles per hour.
Are we adding to the load? Sure. There’s three kids now instead of two. But, they’re all fairly close in age at five, three and two and they’re all friends and into pretty much the same things.
Basically, as long as we have episodes of Paw Patrol airing and keep vast quantities of those little fruit pouches on hand, I think we’ll be OK.
Now, keep in mind this column that you are reading right now was written nearly a full month before our departure date. As excited about the trip as I am, I have no doubt there will be times where poor Kim not only questions her decision to join me but her very sanity as well.
Here’s hoping she doesn’t read this until after we’re back.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at email@example.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.