I strap both kids into their booster seats in the back of my car. I have to work my arms around wires, pillows, bags, and what may have been an industrial strength hairdryer. I told Alicia to bring only what she needed to survive. She reminded me about driving with a rattlesnake.
I finish locking our children in the car and shake my head in disbelief.
I can not state nearly enough just how much stuff (I could think of another name for it but I need to keep this clean) my wife and two daughters need for a trip. A twenty minute trip to the mall and I’m cramped in the front seat. A thirteen hour trip to Kentucky? I’m going to have to isometrically keep my muscles from atrophying because all flexibility will be lost and I’ll be eating my knee for the next seven hours.
I had a wire leading from my 12V outlet to a three hole receptacle for three more wires (wires that would shortly blow the fuse to my 12V outlet), portable DVD players, Leapsters, pillows, the backseat floors flooded with items I don’t even think are ours and of course that industrial strength hairdryer. The back seat of my car is as cluttered as a homeless person’s grocery cart.
I stop myself from uttering a comment, thinking better of it. It would be of no use. So I settle in for the seven hour ride with my family. I get excited again. The four of us are going to have an extended period of time to bond.
Ten minutes on I-79S, Alicia is trying to catch up on some more sleep, the kids are bickering and like the comment at the Sleep Inn parking lot I wanted to say, I give up on the family bonding notion. At this point in to our trip I would like to keep my children from going 10 rounds of MMA fighting with each other and get them focused on their DVD players which just blew my 12V outlet fuse (told you it would). Alicia wakes up and helps me affix the batteries to the players and get the girls settled. Alicia and I chit chat for a little while but I-79 South proves too much for her and again she is asleep. This time she has pushed her pillow against my shoulder. I say goodbye to my arm because I know it is sure to fall asleep soon enough and go completely numb.
The further south we head into West Virginia the more my arm goes numb but also the more I am amazed just how little this state fits my stereotype. I would have wagered money on seeing a majority of early 1990’s pickup trucks with Confederate flag stickers in the windows and rust around the wheel wells. I-79 in West Virginia actually has a technology corridor. I am not quite sure what a technology corridor in West Virginia means? They have cable? Call waiting? All I know is West Virginia would have been the last place I would thought to have seen a technology corridor.I was not completely disappointed though. I-79 South’s largest roadside billboard belongs to the Lion’s Den. The Lion’s Den is not just an adult entertainment stop for weary travelers, the Lion’s Den, according to the moon sized billboard, is an “Adult World” off of exit 28. Obviously a cornucopia of erotic adventures for those looking for a respite from the technology corridor off I-79S. For those uncertain which exit led to Adult World and which led to another Waffle House, the Lion’s Den had another billboard large enough to have it’s own orbit on Interstate 79 South.
Make a right off of 79 (more or less) on to route 64 West and Kentucky welcomes you. 64W also is teaming with rest stops for potty breaks, gas fill ups, snacks, and at one of the stops an impromptu meeting with a hitchhiking hippie looking for a ride north. If I can offer a word of advice to any person looking to hitchhike our country’s highways (especially that hippie on Route 64W), try not to smell like your last bath was before the 1999 Lallapalooza concert. Shave. And if it is sixty degrees out (like it was at our stop), it’s best to shed the eight layers of clothing you have on and let yourself air out (and lastly, get yourself a job or some money and buy a bus ticket).
Driving west through Kentucky makes Pennsylvania feel like driving through Rhode Island. I become aware exactly what the men on the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria felt during their trip to the West Indies. Somewhere on Route 64W I took a wrong turn. Since I am sans Garman or Tom Tom, I begin to head down a road that every foot grows increasingly more rural and devoid of modern technology, like street lights. Visions of what might happen by travelling down the wrong road in Kentucky puts a cold bead of sweat on my forehead. It only takes one Eli Roth movie to dispel any notions of pride toward asking directions. So I head back to the exit and to a Sunoco. Moments later I am back on the road and trying to make up the time we lost heading towards Deliverance.
Seven hours in and tensions are high. The batteries powering the only things responsible for keeping my kids somewhat quiet during this trip are losing power. Roadside scenery is limited to more Waffle House signs (no Lion’s Den though, apparently they have yet to franchise) and Bourbon Distilleries. I have breached my tolerance threshold for coffee and any prepackaged consumable. Alicia can no longer sleep. The girls can no longer touch each other without going into high pitched shrills of “Stop touching me!”. The sheer Sea of Tranquility width of Kentucky has pushed the four of us to our breaking points. I’m ready to throw Alicia’s pillow out the window. She is ready to throw me out the window. I’m sure the four of us are going to crack if we don’t…and there it is. Our exit. A simultaneous sigh of relief by the four of us is let out. Welcome to Owensboro.