When I was young, the actual act of traveling was always an adventure.
When I was little, we used to drive to North Carolina and take a ferry. The 4 young Grosskopf kids thought it was the coolest thing ever.
When we got a little bit older and piled into the Big White Van every year for our 5-hour drive to the beach, it was usually a quieter drive. My big brothers would slouch in the backseats reading their books, but I, as a youth afflicted with the tendency to barf in a vehicle, would play games with my little brother.
A few years ago I rode with my brother Nate to the beach, and there was some trauma:
On the way to Emerald Isle, there is this stretch of the drive where there’s nothing. Seriously, there’s nothing. No gas stations, no bathrooms, no little farm stands.
There’s, like, some corn. I’m not sure how long that stretch is. It could be 10 miles, it could be 20 miles. I have no idea.
What I do know is that I was in the car with Nate and my cousin Grace. Grace was sitting up front because she, too, is afflicted with the barf-in-the-car gene. I was sitting in the back, fighting against my own upchuck urges, and also, naturally, I had to pee.
And what’s more, the car needed gas.
“We’re fine,” Nate said confidently, turning onto the empty stretch.
The low fuel light was on. My own personal tank was full (gross). I wasn’t sure if we’d (I’d) make it.
As we continued driving, the confidence level of the travelers seemed to be faltering.
“Seriously, we’re good,” Nate said, reassuring us. He repeated it a few times, leading us to believe that perhaps he WASN’T so sure.
We kept driving. Fuel low, the need-to-pee meter getting higher by the second. Grace fell into a nervous silence with her hands clasped in her lap.
Ever the Helpful Harriet, I mentioned that our dad would not be happy if his 2 middle children became stranded in the middle of nowhere somewhere in North Carolina.
“Maybe I should turn around,” Nate mused, trying to think back to when we passed the last gas station, but it was too late. We were in too deep.
The “it’ll be fine, seriously” morphed into a “I think we’ll be OK,” which turned into “I hope we make it.”
It was looking ugly.
Then, the car of intrepid travelers saw the Promised Land: a Piggly Wiggly, which meant that a gas station was just around the corner.
We stopped at the gas station to Nate’s chorus of “See?! I told you we’d make it!”
Grace and I were seeking relief. It was a horribly disgusting bathroom, but neither of us cared.
When we got back on the road with some snacks in tow, there was only an hour left of the drive. We were almost there.
That was a few years ago, but I like to relive it now and again with a “Hey, Nate, do you remember that time you tried to run us out of gas?”
He always responds with some iteration of, “We were fine. I never doubted it for a second.”
Men. They never remember anything right, do they? Truly, that may be the moral of this story. Take out of it what you will, but travel is always an adventure with the Grosskopfs.
But as it is, by the time you finish this narrative, I’ll probably have been bopped upside my head by my mother for NOT reapplying sunscreen, so I should probably go do that.