I went on a drive. It was a drive that I’ve done tons of times and could possibly do in my sleep, except for the whole driving part. At least, that’s what I’ve always thought.
I like drives. I like exploring. I do not get lost. These are truths and they have remained so since I first started driving. I have some sort of inner compass. Without much thought, I can go all over the place and find my way back home without the aid of maps or gps or directions.
Last week I went on a little excursion from my house to my parent’s house. This drive, with kids, takes 10 hours. It takes 10 hours every time and I have done it a lot, so I know. It isn’t especially complicated: I-540 to I-40 west to I-75 north to I-64 west. On this current excursion, I was taking my three kids, and three of my nieces and nephews to my parent’s house where I would stay a couple of days and go see a musical with my Mom. When I made the return trip, I would be in my Mom’s car with just my youngest since I was leaving the older kids with their grandparents to attend “Camp Grammie”. Seems simple; straight forward even, don’t ya think? Aye, well, so did I.
I woke up Monday morning; early. I got showered and started the completion of the packing that I needed to do to get out the door. I got all six kids up and dressed and fed with help from my wonderful Hubs and had everyone get their respective DS’s and American Girl Dolls. My husband helped me load the car and we were ready to hit the road. We got on the road at around 9a which should have put us at Grammie’s around 7p. After about twenty minutes, I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. There was singing and coffee drinking and the kids were watching movies. It took what seemed all morning to go 90 miles where we made our first stop at a rest area at the request from the kids. With a toddler who is still mastering the art of dry pants, many stops would be a must. I decided before starting out on this trip that rest areas would be my best friends because they are clean and immediately accessible to the interstate which would cut down on stoppage time. After this first stop, we stopped three more times at the request of the children for potty breaks.
I decided to stop and get food and gas since I seemed to have stumbled upon the Great Chick-fil-A Convergence meaning that I had passed two exits in a row with the Chix joints and had come upon the third consecutive exit. I took it as a sign to get food and chose to do so. The downside was that there was no gas station I’m allowed to get gas at on this exit so we continued on and stopped at the next exit. Now, I normally fill the gas tank near Asheville because it is right before a stretch of road that runs through the smokies that has no exits and is surrounded by miles of highway with exits with no gas stations and part of the road is closed due to a rock slide so there’s construction delays. Not a place you wanna be running low on gas, for sure. So far this road trip was taking much much longer than usual and the time we should have been in Asheville we weren’t even to Hickory, still an hour away. At this point, I’m looking at an arrival time of 8 if we are able to cease the stopping every hour on the hour. Otherwise the arrival time would be more like 9p.
At around 3, I’m thinking that something is wrong, but my sleep fogged brain can’t seem to put all the little niggling things in order. The first thing was that we weren’t to Asheville, yet and we should have been into Tennessee by now. The other things are, but are not limited to: we past two more exits with Chick-fil-A’s making a grand total of 6 out of 7 exits with Chick-fil-A’s (and that just doesn’t freaking happen!), and we went through Statesville and crossed I-77 (which I thought we’d already done, but maybe I misremembered Hickory being west of Statesville). Then at around 4 I see a sign that rends my world in two and almost sends us on a 9 hour car trip that took us right back where we started. It said, “Welcome to Winston-Salem.” I had just had a 7 hour trip that took me all the way to Winston-Salem…two hours from my house.
In my defense, it was heavily overcast and rainy, so there was no sun to shine into my eyeballs, but I failed to READ THE SIGNS that said, “YOU ARE GOING EAST YOU IDIOT!” I, in fact, HAD passed Statesville and I-77 already because Hickory IS west of Statesville. I pulled into a gas station and cried and cried and cried. I decided that I had to suck it up and go since these kids were counting on me to get them to Grammie’s house for camp.
So a drive that normally takes 10 hours took 15 hours. With six kids. Joy.