>First, whistle the theme to “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
It should have been an easy trip home. Drive north, pick up La Petite at her summer “home,” drive north again until home. Somewhere in the first leg of the journey, grab lunch.
First: I got dressed in the morning and realized I hadn’t packed any shirts for myself. I packed an extra t-shirt for Amigo, so I borrowed it. Sigh. I’m not a fashionable mom, by any means. The teen looks much better in it.
Next: packed to leave, realized that the minivan front seats were not damp, but soaked. I’d left them open a crack – only a crack! – and the wild and woolly storms had made my ride home, well, a wet one. Sister-in-law loaned us thick towels and plastic bags to spread on the seats. My side, as luck would have it, was wettest. Sound track song? “Rain, rain, go away.”
On the road! Public Radio on, grabbed a McDonald’s drive-through lunch and onward! Note to self: never buy a quarter pounder with cheese again. At least, dear self, never try to eat a quarter pounder with cheese while driving. Self, that lousy excuse for ‘food’ isn’t good for you to begin with, but even more so, it’s sloppy. You guessed it, readers: ketchup and mustard on the borrowed shirt. The song to this sound track: “Pound sign, question mark, star, exclamation point.” Yes, #?*! was about my speed at the moment.
Speaking of speed, the route was fairly direct – on paper. As we entered one of the lovely towns on the way, the police directed traffic off the main road. I didn’t know the town at all, which made finding an alternate route tough, to say the least. At Amigo’s advice, we turned on the navigator on my phone. It led us in what felt like the correct direction, but into bumper to bumper traffic. A traffic jam on Saturday afternoon? This was not a Chicago commuter drive. Sound track song: James Taylor’s “Traffic Jam!”
Since we were stopped, hardly moving, I pulled out my Tide to Go pen to fix the stain on my borrowed t-shirt. Song: “(Kiss him) Goodbye” by the Nylons. Remember the commercial with Kelly Ripa? Great thinking, but no follow through: the stain remover was empty. I was stuck. Stuck in traffic, stuck in a stained, borrowed t-shirt. Song: Once again, Kevin Fowler’s “#?*!” If you haven’t heard this one yet, you need to. It’s bound to become a classic.
Amigo doesn’t handle situations like this well. He put in a folk song CD and we sang along to keep ourselves relatively calm. Theme song at this point? “Puff the Magic Dragon” – oh, how we wished for a flying dragon to lift us above the jam and onto the highway!
Finally (and I do mean finally; we lost close to an hour detouring and waiting to get back on Highway 31) We headed north. Song: Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again!” We took a quick bathroom break, I changed into the shirt I’d worn the day before (a little less dirty), and we hit the road again. I considered making a quick stop for a tacky tourist t-shirt from the mini-mart or one from the thrift store down the road, but Amigo was moody and it just wasn’t worth taking the chance of another delay.
Finally! We crossed the border (it’s okay, we’re legal Wisconsinites) and enjoyed driving along highways surrounded by corn “…as high as an elephant’s eye!” Yes, our sound track at this point was “Oh, what a beautiful morning!” from Oklahoma! Wisconsin farmland is really gorgeous in July.
We made it to La Petite’s temporary home away from home, picked her up, packed the van, and hit the road. I changed into a dry pair of denim capri pants; despite the towel, I was still soaking up the overnight rain and I was close to adding a few new verses to “#?*!” as the trip went on.
At last! The home stretch. I could almost quote from Over the River and Through the Woods; my “horse” knew the way to carry the sleigh, or at least the way to turn the minivan wheels. Homeward bound! (Wait, that’s another song. Maybe another trip.)