We had a very nice visit with my wife’s family, and then a not-so-pleasant journey home. We stayed in a really beautiful old log cabin on the east side of Nashville, Tennessee. The plan was to come home on Friday. The journey should have taken us just under 10 hours. I told everybody that I was setting my alarm for 8 in the AM, and that I wanted to leave no later than 10, but that I’d really like to leave earlier than that.
I looked my brother-in-law, who lives in Nashville and thus was staying at his home rather than the cabin, dead in the eye and reiterated my morning plans. He said that was no problem, they lived but five minutes away and would be there by 9 in the morning.
The alarm went off at 8. We got up, showered, dressed, and had breakfast. I loaded the car. We were ready by nine. Paul and his family were not there. We waited. We talked to my wife’s parents. We waited some more. We did one last walk-through to find anything left behind. We waited even more.
Finally, at 9:40 Paul showed up. And his son. But not his other son or his wife. She was in the shower, he said. I knew that meant at least another twenty minutes. We waited some more. At 10 I said we should go outside and wait. I figured we’d eventually get tired of standing by the car and then get in and go. At 10:20 this finally happened. As we were driving down the long driveway we saw the others pulling in. We said our goodbyes through the windows and we were off. I did the mental calculations, readjusting my time frame for being half an hour late. I figured we could make up the time during meals.
Not five minutes into the drive and my daughter says she doesn’t feel good. She needs to stop. I try to assess if it is an emergency – if I need to pull over or if she can wait until an exit, but get an evasive response. I pull off at the next exit. As I’m waiting for the green light to turn left into the gas station the first eruption occurs. The girl is throwing up in the back seat. Just as I’m turning she does it again.
Bless her ever-loving heart, when she’s done she apologizes to me. I tell her everything is ok, that daddy will take care of it. Luckily she had a blanket covering her lap so most of her clothes are still clean. She got a little on her sweater and I get her mother to take her inside to clean her up and get some water. I’m on car clean-up duty. It was gross. There was vomit in the carpet, vomit on the back of the seat, and vomit on the door. There was vomit pooled up on the door handle, seeping down into the window control. It was everywhere. It smelled very bad. I had to hold my breath to keep from vomiting myself.
But I didn’t. I cleaned it all up. The girl got cleaned up too. With all of that out of her system, she was feeling better. I could tell because she was back to laying down the sarcasm.
Back on the road, the travel went smoothly. There was a little rain and a bit of traffic. Both of which caused me to drive slower than I wanted to but that was ok.
Then we stopped for lunch. The wife wanted Chik-Fil-A which I thought was a bad idea. That restaurant is always crowded at lunch. I knew it would be in Jackson because we used to live near there and that particular store was a nightmare at lunch. Still, we stopped. Of course, it was crazy crowded. We opted for the drive-through. They screwed up our order, but we got it fixed. Then we drove to a Home Depot parking lot to eat. At least the food was good. Getting back on the Interstate took twenty minutes because of traffic.
The road was once again fairly easy. The rain had let up, but the traffic had not. But we made it to Russelville, Arkansas without incident. We stopped at a Wendy’s inside a gas station for supper. They were out of grilled chicken for the salads my wife and daughter wanted. The daughter won’t eat anything else at Wendy’s. We waited fifteen minutes for that to cook. I had to interrupt some storytelling by Wendy’s employees to remind them that we had ordered food and still wanted to eat it.
Back on the road, we made it to Oklahoma. The daughter needed a bathroom break and we opted for Braums (a local burger and ice cream joint) instead of a gas station, figuring the restrooms would be cleaner. And while we were there milkshakes seemed to be in order. Especially after that long, lousy ride.
Friends, they were understaffed and busy at the drive-through. The lady said it would be “a while” for our milkshakes so we left without anything sweet to eat.
A sad end to a sad drive. But an hour later we were home. It took us 12 hours and change.