We always look at Google maps or MapQuest before taking a trip to see how long the trip is supposed to take — and then do our best to prove them wrong.
We’re no amateurs — we have gotten this down to such a science during the years that there are certain family members deathly afraid to travel with us. But since our family keeps growing (a son-in-law here, a daughter-in-law there, a new grandbaby or two every few years) we are still able to find the uninitiated willing to pile in the car.
Recently, we embarked on a 500-mile trip that was supposed to take eight hours. Based on past experience, we were pretty sure that was wrong.
Our fellow travelers arrived at 6:40 a.m. We unloaded bags from their car, transferred two car seats from their vehicle to our vehicle, loaded a cargo carrier on top of our car, changed diapers, readjusted the carrier, inspected the car seat installations again (multiple times), crammed diaper bags, a cooler, snack bag (essential), assorted reading materials, one laptop and large bulky purses into our vehicle, then rearranged items in the carrier, put out an all-points bulletin for a missing pacifier, redistributed items in the vehicle six more times and then, using precision origami folds, crammed Grandma into the far back seat next to a car seat and departed at 7:30.
Whew. We were off.
We made our first stop at 7:32. We wheeled into a strip mall parking lot to deposit an envelope into a mailbox. Yes, the husband could have left it in our mailbox but, as he noted, we have had mail stolen from our mailbox. Once. In 1993. We are nothing if not paranoid.
We were back on the road and made our second stop at 7:36, pulling in line at a drive-thru for coffee. There was no cream at home and the husband takes cream. Listen, you don’t want the pilot drowsy in the cockpit.
Back on the road, topping speeds of 32 mph, hitting every red light on the way to the interstate, someone asked if anyone was hungry. 7:40. Not to worry, we didn’t need to stop, as they brought food — a bag of chocolate-covered doughnuts. I argued that plastic-coated doughnuts were not a food and was met with strong opposition declaring them delicious and even claiming that they qualify as “eating clean” if you wipe your hands with a Wet One when you finish.
In the midst of the Plastic Doughnut Debate, a dark cylinder bounced on the road in front of our vehicle. Someone said it might have been a muffler — or a curling iron from a cosmetic bag in the overhead carrier.
Maybe we should pull over and check the carrier. Why not? It was 7:46.
It only took us an hour and 10 minutes from the time our travel companions arrived and loaded until the time we finally hit the interstate. Given our current rate of travel, I calculated we should reach our destination by sundown. In two or three days. Once again, that 8-hour prediction had been way off.
Computers. They’re so unreliable.
Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist.