Doomed Road Trip: A 20-Hour Drive Took Four Days


Snowbirding is not as easy as it sounds.

I am back in Missouri this week, trying to get a second antiques shop up and running. The grass is brown, the trees are bare and the plants at my cottage are dead.

It’s a 20-hour drive to get here, but it took us four days. We were OK until Atlanta, and then one of the four tires on our heavily loaded trailer blew out, sending us rocking. Mark saved our lives, but the tire had taken the fender with it. On the fender was a tail light — gone. The tail light was attached to the car via wire spaghetti. We were going nowhere.
Mark spent the rest of Saturday on his back in the rain, trying to wire up some temporary brake lights. No go

The next day was Sunday, and nothing was open.

On Monday, Mark stationed himself outside a Ford dealership at 6 a.m. and they fixed the nicked wiring. It took extra time because they also corrected two recall items. Sigh.
By Monday afternoon, however, we were able to get back on the road. We drove for four hours, getting us as far as Nashville, when traffic on the interstate simply stopped.
We inched along and, while we inched, the guy next to us rolled down his window to tell us that another of our trailer tires had a bubble. Great!

Two hours later, we finally inched past a car carrier whose cab and first four cars had burst into flame. Evidently, someone was having a worse trip than we were. Still, we took the hint and called it quits the second we got out of Nashville. We dragged ourselves to the nearest hotel and flopped into bed.

On Tuesday, we woke up full of hope and resolve, the way God intended. It was 32 degrees and gray, but we were full of pep. We hopped into the car and drove, bubble and all, into Illinois. That’s when the tractor-trailer in front of us blew one of its tires, the rubber shrapnel hitting our windshield as we looked at each other and broke into hysterical laughter.

We were obviously doomed.

Tuesday night, we made it to the cottage and its bleak windows welcomed us. Nothing in the windowboxes, no food, no heat. We kissed the floor anyway, happy to be alive. And we set our alarms because we had to be up early.

In the morning, we were up at first buzz, groggily brushing our teeth and looking for clothing that had not spent a week in a suitcase. We unlatched the bubble-tired trailer and stumbled into our car. It was a 30-minute drive to our grandson’s school where the kindergarten kids were putting on a program.

We found our seats just as the kids entered, each one searching the crowd for his own “people.” Skippy saw us and waved frantically. His smile was as wide as the room.
And, just like that, the drive was worth every second.