Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: ROAD TRIP (vacation) (07/02/15)
- TITLE: 10-798-4
By Jennifer Warren
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This was usually a good thing so my brother and I took the bait, "What is it?"
"We're going to D.C."
Road trip. Sweet.
Living in central Alabama, we often went to Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. Washington, D.C. would be an adventure.
Year: 1978. Car: 1971. Mom: 1931. Brother: 1956. Me: 1961.
Cans of oil: 12. Yes, our 1971 Chevy frequently spouted a rooster tail of blue smoke.
With my brother doing most of the driving, we would make the trip from Montgomery, Alabama to Washington, D.C. and back.
The three of sat on the front bench seat. The luggage was stashed in the back floorboards and trunk. Filled with perishable food, the cooler hung out with other food and drinks in the back seat. We ate breakfast and lunch out of the backseat staples and splurged by eating out for dinner.
We headed up through northeastern Alabama and western Tennessee. In North Carolina we traded the interstate for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Along the way, we stopped to wander down to streams that paralleled the road. We tossed stones into the rolling waters and we climbed along the rocky edges. We took pictures of nature and each other.
We wound through North Carolina and up into Virginia. We got back onto the interstate in Virginia. At one point my brother said he was tired and asked me if I would drive. I said that I would and we agreed to pull off at the next exit. Mom, true to form, was asleep in the middle.
At the next exit my brother pulled off. At the bottom of the exit, we noticed that there was no return ramp. There was no signage indicating a return ramp in either direction.
What to do? Back up the exit, of course.
My brother pulled into the emergency lane and carefully backed up the exit. At the top of the exit, a couple of cars flew past us. With the coast clear, he and I jumped out of the car and switched seats. I pulled back onto the interstate and off we went. About a half a mile later, Mom roused up. "Oh, you switched seats."
My brother and I grinned at each other. "Yes, ma'am." We were polite Southern kids.
We drove until close to dark and found a hotel. We checked in and asked about a good local restaurant. We showered, changed our clothes, and went to the restaurant the person at the hotel recommended.
Quaintly decorated. Yellow cotton curtains. Plain tablecloths. Wooden chairs. We sat near a window. We asked about the specials of the day. I chose the trout. We talked about the day, finally telling Mom about the exit adventure. She confessed being glad not knowing about it at the time. We began planning the next day and then dinner arrived.
The waitress placed Mom's dinner in front of her and my brother's dinner in front of him. And then she placed mine in front of me. The trout. All of it: tail, head, and eye staring me down.
Mom forgot to tell me that the trout would likely have its head attached. I stared at the fish. I looked at Mom. I was certain the chef had forgotten something. I looked back at the trout.
Mom said she had never seen me that shade of green. She whispered, "We can have them take the head off."
Mom didn't raise cowards. I wasn't going to be conquered by the headed trout. "Thank you, but I'll eat it like this." Then I covered the fish's head with my napkin. I said I wasn't a coward, I didn't say I was fearless.
The next day we made it to D.C. Over the next few days we would see the wonders of D.C. We learned to ride the train. We almost ran through Emancipation Proclamation Gardens when our map showed a road going through rather around the gardens. We got stuck in front of the J. Edgar Hoover Building at 10 o'clock at night, catching the last bus to the stop near our hotel. We were amazed by the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. We drove across the Potomac just to say that we had been to Maryland.
Having taken the scenic routes going to D.C., we took the interstates all the way back.
10 days. 798 miles. 4 cans of oil.
We had enough oil for another road trip.
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