My sister and I picked up her husband and we left their Oak Park home at 6:40 pm – not optimal time to begin a westward journey through parts of four states, but my sister and her husband drive through the night more often than I do. The weather was lovely in Chicago and traffic was not sticky.
We left Illinois and made excellent time in Wisconsin. For each state west that you travel, the speed limit increases by 5 miles per hour, so Liz took the helm and I assumed Navi-guesser status (mostly in charge of music – the car practically knows the way) at Sparta, WI. The Mississippi River was a short drive and then we would be in Minnesota.
We have been thinking about this trip for a while. We need to get Mom’s house ready to sell and with her death one of the major ties to this town is gone. Liz and her husband had been trying to figure out how many times in the past 30 years they had made this trip. Maybe 50, they thought? Which got Liz and me thinking and laughing: what was the worst trip we ever made?
- Was is the rented Pinto whose gas line froze in the middle of the night on a Minnesota overpass?
- Was it the icy trip to Chicago when we pulled off to let the plow go by and couldn’t get back on the road?
- Was it the wall of snow in Worthington?
- Was it spending Christmas in a motel in Rochester?
- Was it when the speed limit was 55 and the trip took 14 hours and Matt wrote the words “I’m bored, are you?” in masking tape on the rear window?
- Was it that back breaking Gold Dodge Fury III that made the trip ass numbing?
- Was it before the Interstate went all the way through to Chicago?
So many possibilities? How could we choose? How stupid can we be?
We arrived at the river, crossed into Minnesota, and climbed out of the river bottom. Liz complained that she always ended up driving this stretch and that she didn’t like driving it at night. I tempted the gods one more time when I said, “Don’t worry, it gets easier once we are on the flats.”
“What’s that I hear?” asks each of the weather gods.
No sooner had we reached our cruising altitude when we drove into a wall of fog. Thick, hideous fog. Can’t see ahead of you fog. Can’t see the road fog. Never ending fog. All the way home. If it had been up to me, we would have stopped for the night. Liz kept her eye on the road, and I kept my eyes alert for slower cars and trucks and for good songs to sing along to. John took over the helm somewhere in Minnesota, and I retreated to the back seat.
I promise, dear Aeoleus, dear Notus, we shall never taunt you with our laughter, assuming that the worst trip is behind us.
We made it safely. We are just damn lucky.
Image Fog by Perrimoon