After checking the itinerary no less than 700 times before heading to the airport, my youngest son and I were finally airborne and on our way to Minnesota for a long-awaited vacation at the lake.
The day had gone without a single hitch, we missed rush hour traffic and there were no accidents on I95, the shuttle bus was ready and waiting at long-term parking, we flew through security, the flight was on time, and my suitcase only weighed 48.5 lbs.
We landed safely in Minneapolis and made the trek from the far end of the airport to the tram, up three flights of escalators, and walked to the furthest corner on rental car row.
Thanks to the unparalleled efficiency behind the desk, there were only 2 customers and 45 minutes between me and a wrestling match with the side view mirror of the Ford Fusion. The bags were in the trunk, the mirrors were properly adjusted, on our way at last, we headed to the open road.
Only the road wasn’t so open.
I hadn’t taken into account that we’d be leaving the city during rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon when the residents of Minneapolis pack up their cars and head to ‘the lake.’ I felt like I was back on the East coast in bumper to bumper traffic headed to ‘the shore.’
Although we had two smart phones and an iPad all equipped with navigation systems we opted to add a sense of adventure to our trip and use the directions provided by my dad along with the map the rental car attendant gave us.
We were already off to a much later start than I had hoped. The plan was to be on the road by three p.m. and sitting down to a feast with the rest of the family by seven; however it became clear that in spite of my navigator’s best efforts, there was no shortcut to escape the heavy traffic and KFC was going to have to do for dinner.
My 15-year-old mimicked the voice of a GPS as he guided me from one turn to the next. His instructions far exceeded the limited navigation capabilities of the TomTom, as he notified me that people were flashing their lights because I needed to turn my headlights on. Who knew they still made cars where you have to turn the headlights on yourself?
We had thirty miles to go; darkness, rain, and road signs that seemed to conflict with the directions confused both the navigator and the driver. We stopped to gather our bearings.
“Recalculating…Mom, back up so we can see what that sign said.”
“I’m not backing up on the highway,” I replied.
“You totally have time, there’s no one coming,” he insisted.
With a sideways glance I said, “I don’t recall that as an instruction from my GPS.”
“You totally could have made it,” he exclaimed once more.
We made a pact to ignore the road signs, stick to the directions, and not back up on the highway no matter how confused we got. White knuckled, I drove along the winding unlit roads to the sound of rain pounding on the roof, the hypnotic rhythm of the wiper blades against the windshield, and the deep smooth voice of my son who finally said…
“Right turn ahead…you have reached your destination.”