Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Traveling Across Pennsylvania Is Not For Sissies

So I cried last night after I finished writing my blog about Father’s Day. I think I was really sad for all those “kids” out there whose parents are no longer with us. And I know that while my parents, who are in their mid-80s, still travel and deliver Meals On Wheels to other senior citizens and certainly don’t act their age, I can tell the aging process is quickly catching up to them.

You’d think I know how life works by now, wouldn’t you? But I still get sad when I think about the inevitable. It’s gonna happen to us all and I just don’t want to deal with it, I guess.

Then this morning I spoke with a friend I’ve known since our freshman year at Ohio State. We were talking about something completely unrelated when he said, “Jane, you’re really sensitive.” Uh, no kidding.

He said he thought it was a good thing and that he hoped I wasn’t offended. How could I be? It's the truth. I assured him I wasn’t, but I begged to differ on it being a good thing. At least sometimes. Like when I’m sitting in a crowded movie theater and a sad scene comes on the screen and I’m desperately trying to stifle the urge to bawl like a baby with those really loud snuffling and hiccupping sounds.

It’s just too embarrassing, I tell you. Besides, I hate when my mascara runs.

So I’ve decided to cheer myself up by writing about my trip to Cape Cod last week. Well, at least the highlights. If I wrote about the entire trip, this would be a book instead of a blog.

Now, if you read my previous blog about my upcoming trip to the Cape (here), I mentioned how I had Gladys Garmin all loaded up with the addresses we were visiting in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. I also had the same addresses entered into my iPhone. AND I had a Mapquest printout with all our stops.

Yeah, just ask me how much of any of that we used? Go ahead – ask me.

The answer? Ohhhh…not much. Not much at all.

I tried, though. I plugged in the Garmin before leaving my parents’ house. When Gladys started in on our Left and Right turns, my mother called from the backseat, “Oh, we’re not going to have to listen to that the entire time, are we?”

That, my friends, is Mom-Code for “Turn it off!”

So I turned it off. I mean, for the most part, I knew how to get out of Alliance. And once we hit Pennsylvania, we were on the same road for a l-o-n-g time. Pennsylvania is really wide and it seems even wider when you have to get from one side to the other.

But, hey, I figured Dad would just have to guide me the rest of the way once we neared the New York border. I also figured he’s been driving that route for years. Decades, even. And he did a good job. Except that Dad doesn’t realize the extent of my “directionally challenged” problem. I’m way more comfortable knowing that we’ll be on this road for this many miles and then our next mark is this. It just helps me. You’d understand if you’d ever made the mistake of driving along a highway trying to get to your destination only to find out you’d missed the exit about 30 miles back. Yeah, that happened to me once years ago and I vowed it would never happen again. So I want my markers.

For the most part, we were good except when Dad would suddenly say, “Oh, you need to take this exit!” Probably I annoyed a few drivers as I yanked the steering wheel over to the right and, with smoking tires, screeched in front of a line of other vehicles to take the exit.

Okay, that didn’t really happen. Or at least I’m not going to admit that it might have happened. Once or twice.

I thought it was amusing later when both my mom and dad told me I was a good driver. And that I was very calm and in control. Boy, did I have them fooled!

Our first day was our longest day of driving and it was pretty monotonous. We ate a quick breakfast around 6AM and then dad bought himself and mom one donut each, which they consumed around 10AM. Mom said she wouldn’t be hungry for lunch. Now, you probably don’t know my mom’s eating habits, but let me just say that you could set your clock by the woman. She eats breakfast, lunch and dinner on a precise schedule. And if she’s off schedule for any reason (like driving across Pennsylvania), she can get, well, a little cranky. Apparently, the tiniest drop in blood sugar is not a good thing for mom.

So, even though she said she wasn’t going to be hungry for lunch, by around noon she started announcing that she was getting hungry. And, wouldn’t you know, we were driving along a part of Pennsylvania that wasn’t well populated. Meanwhile, I was starting to get a little hungry myself, so I was definitely on the lookout for a place to stop for nourishment.

Finally, we spotted a sign for Subway at the next exit. I must have cut off at least half a dozen drivers so I could take the exit. We found the Subway, raced out of the car and sprinted inside for sustenance.

Yeah. Like 80-somethings “sprint.” Or 50-somethings, for that matter.

But once we were inside – get this! – Mom changed her mind again and stated that she wasn’t that hungry and she didn’t want a sub. Um. Okay… Not having a lot of other choices, I pointed her toward the racks of snack foods and suggested she might be able to find some crackers or something less filling than a sandwich.

I then asked Dad if he wanted to split a 6” sub and he said yes. Told me to order whatever I wanted. So I ordered a grilled chicken with lettuce and tomato. Basic, huh? I asked the lady behind the counter if she could cut the sub in half. She said, “You want this 6” sub cut in half?” Um, yeah. Is that not allowed or something? But she did as I asked and I paid for it. I handed it to my dad and said I’d be back after I made a pit stop.

When I walked back to the table, Mom and Dad were already settled in their chairs. Mom had opened a bag of crackers and had also spread the Subway paper on the table between the two of them. One 3” half of the sub was in front of Dad and the other was in front of her. And then she looked at me and said, “What are you going to eat, Jane?”


I was completely taken aback and wasn’t sure how to respond. Apparently I could have used a blinking neon sign over Mom’s head for clues: Not Hungry…Hungry…Not Hungry…Hungry.

Probably I should have just gone back up to the counter and ordered another sub, but I wasn’t quick enough. Because Mom then handed me her 3” half of sub and told me to go up to the counter and ask them to cut it in half so we could split it.

Really? My lunch, after six hours of driving, was to be an inch and a half of grilled chicken? Yikes.

But it was easier to just do it than to argue. And the look on the clerk’s face behind the Subway counter was priceless!

Ah well. I figured it was a good day to start a diet.

So we finished lunch, and managed to get to our destination in Connecticut without further mishaps or food emergencies.

But, believe me, I was hungry by dinnertime. Which was delayed by an hour due to our getting lost during Friday night rush hour traffic somewhere in Connecticut.

(It wasn’t my fault.)

But that’s a story for another time.

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