I consider Ken and myself to be Road Trip Veterans. We have been going on long car trips for 35 years. There are a few things we’ve learned over the years.
Regardless of how light you pack, you will NEVER find enough pants hangers in your hotel room.
I read this somewhere, and I think it is true: men navigate by directions; women navigate by landmarks. Yesterday was a good example. We were driving in
. Not a city we are familiar with. I was at the wheel. Ken was navigating by GPS app on his iPhone, looking for a restaurant we saw listed in a tour book. Madison, Wisconsin
We turned a corner and I blurted, “Hey! This is where we were last night! I saw that twirling octopus last night!”
“What twirling octopus?”
“Over there! I saw that last night!”
“We have never been on this street before.”
“Sure we have. I think I’d KNOW if I’d seen a twirling octopus before.”
“You’ve lost your mind. Keep driving.”
Turns out he was right. We hadn’t driven that way the night before. And by the time we reached our restaurant it was apparent that there were octopi all over town twirling above a chain of car washes. But still – I know my landmarks.
And while we are talking about wayfinding: thank goodness there is now GPS in the world. We don’t have it on board the Subaru, but Ken’s iPhone app is brilliant. It has ended years of arguments about missing exit ramps and driving in wrong directions. This means one of us can follow the little blue GPS dot along our route and the other can drive. We can nonchalantly arrive at our destination unruffled almost as if we have never had an argument in our whole married life. In the old days, for me navigation meant reading maps by turning them in the direction we were going. Going South? Turn the map upside down! West? Sideways!. This way I would know if we needed to turn right or left. For some reason this has always driven Ken around the bend – and around the bend isn’t necessarily where might be going! I have surveyed many women – 9 out of 10 of us turn maps in the direction we’re traveling. And we look for landmarks.
And since we are on the controversial topic of the difference between men and women, I believe that men are genetically engineered to pack luggage into vehicles. Ken is a genius at it. So was his Dad as well as mine. Maybe it’s something that is handed down from father to son. My old man’s strategy was to lay out every piece of luggage behind the car and then stand back – Zen-like – to visualize the overall arrangement. Then he’d set to filling the trunk with the deftness and speed of a Zen master folding origami. Suitcases for a family of four. Picnic basket. And the piece de resistance – the squat, round, Scotch plaid cooler with the tin lining that everybody owned in the 1950s – a challenge in anybody’s game. Ken’s Dad gave priority to the golf clubs going into the trunk first and then he’d wedge the more regular shaped suitcases around them – a mastery of wedging – and I don’t mean a shot from the rough!
I know for sure that I didn’t get the gene for car packing. This trip we packed heavy. A medium-sized suitcase each. Plus one carry-on each for one-night stays on the way to
. Plus a picnic basket for snacks. A cooler. Laptop bag. Hanging suit bag. Pillows. THEN, on the way home, we needed to fit 4 cardboard boxes of my mother’s belongings to bring home. Winnipeg
My reaction? “It will never work!! We’ll NEVER get all this stuff in there!”
Ken’s? “Stand back, Missy. Watch and learn.”
The boxes, the luggage, the cooler and the basket? My husband got every piece packed into that Subaru hatch and back seat like he was the grand architect of packing. It was a work of art! As I said, genius.
It always seems like the trip home is shorter than the trip there, wherever “there” is. Why is that?
We’re home now – 2,851 miles according to our speedometer. And, since we drove to
, I should tell you what that is in kilometers: that’s 4,561 kliks! Canada
* the opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily based on scientific facts and are purely from my own point of view.