It is a favorite annual tradition. Every summer, I load the kids into the car and we drive the 5-ish hours north to Monmouth County, New Jersey to visit family.
This year, we had several standout things going on. It was Kathryn’s first time making the trip with us, it was the first Father’s Day I spent with my dad in 10 years, and my uncle Brian (mom’s side) was having his 60th birthday party.
Uncle Brian would serve as our host and base of operations; I would “pay our way” by cooking all week.
Uncle Brian has 3 children: Ira, Lovelle and Irette. Ira and I have been close for our whole lives. I have been staying with Ira on our yearly Jersey Shore visit since the days when I only had one child (and was still married), and spent a ton of time at Uncle Brian’s house when I lived in NJ.
Procedurally, we’ve got this road trip thing down. This was the third year it was just me and the kids heading north, and we’ve established a few S.O.P. to make it go smoothly.
I like to leave close to bedtime, so the kids will sleep through the majority of the trip. I have always been a bit of a night owl, so midnight-1 a.m. arrival times don’t fazeme. Most of my family is the same way, and a midnight arrival team generally leads to a 3 a.m. bedtime for the adults.
For this trip, I spent all day Monday June 10th cleaning the car, getting packed, procuring snacks, stocking the car with distractions, checking over my packing repeatedly, the usual trip stuff. We left shortly after 7 p.m.
The trip up was a white-knuckle nerve-straining gauntlet. Within 40 minutes of departure, the rain began. Within 30 more minutes, it was a deluge. Traffic on I-95 slowed to a crawl, and not due to congestion. The rain came down in sheets, and it was impossible to see far enough ahead to go even close to the 65 mph speed limit.
Adding to the danger factor was the massive quantity of water accumulating on the road. Hydroplaning was unavoidable, and I spent as much time as possible in the middle lane.
Meanwhile, truckers the whole way up were driving their semis in a fashion more befitting the jerk in the yellow Porsche – you know the guy, the one who gets pulled over going 75 in a 35, then greets the cop with “good morning, how about a warning?” Cutting people off without signaling and riding people’s bumper is decidedly more dangerous when you are in a vehicle 25 times heavier than said Porsche.
Early in the trip, the kids were doing what kids do, asking meaningless questions and generally being distracting. Amidst the rain and heavy traffic, I finally snapped a bit at Seamus to keep a lid on it, and they all went to sleep directly.
To Be Continued!