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  • Kathryn Patterson

My Winter Travel Diary: Getting to MA

Greetings, from Plympton, MA!  You might be wondering why I'm here.  Here's the story...

Last winter, my daughter was lamenting that she never saw her Patterson grandparents on her birthday.  Looking ahead at the school calendar, I realized that the children got out of school the Friday before her birthday.  So I dutifully called my in-laws, and we arranged to spend the winter holidays with them.  Oh, joy!  Oh, bliss!

Then in a completely underhanded move, four members of the Cobb County school board changed the school calendar for this year, making the kids go to school through December 23rd.  Disaster!!  If the kids were in school through December 23rd, we would not have enough time to even drive there!

I felt angry and betrayed by those who put their own personal needs and agenda above those who voted for them.  Then, I decided that life is way too short to let the pettiness of those people ruin our plans.  Therefore, I thought, screw the last week of school.  We're going to Massachusetts anyway!

In preparation for this trip, I planned out our route with Google Maps.  That's when I learned that it would take just over 19 hours to get here.  Another ugh, since 19 hours in a car with four people sounded not fun at all.  But I decided  we could drive 10 hours on the first day and 9 hours on the second day.  That way it would feel like we accomplished something the first day of driving.  So I worked out that 10 hours from our house is Winchester, VA.  Looking around, I made a reservation at the Holiday Inn off of exit 313.  Then I got my car ready for the trip, bought some peanut butter Ritz Bitz, and packed the car.

The alarm went off *way* too early last Saturday morning - 5:00am - but the entire family woke up and did the last minute stuff.  We finally made it out the door and on the road by 7:30am, the kids busy with their Android tablets and the adults discussing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the front seats.  The entire day went by without incident.  The kids got along fabulously, and the Holiday Inn in Winchester turned out to be a perfectly delightful hotel.  We ate dinner at Bob Evans and relaxed for an hour or so before going to bed.

Yesterday, though, got a bit too exciting. We awoke at 6:30am, got ready and loaded the car before continuing on I-81.  Early afternoon, a dark red SUV nearly sideswiped us!  My dear husband looked over and saw that the SUV's driver's eyes were completely closed.  The man was completely asleep at the wheel!!!

The SUV careened across all three lanes of traffic, got all four tires off the pavement and into the median, then jerked back into the left lane to careen across the other way.  We sped up, honking our car horn to try to wake the man upand wishing that a police car would show up.  I yanked out my cell phone and called 911.  The cell towers dropped the call four times before I finally got in touch with an operator.  Four times!  By that point, we spotted a state trooper turning around in the median.  We pulled over and my husband ran over to tell the man about the crazy driver.  By that point, the SUV raced into the distance at 90 mph, ne'er to be seen again since we exited I-81 about two miles later.

The adrenaline rush had everyone bouncing in their seats, so we pulled off the road and found a quaint Burger King to eat lunch in.  I thought long and hard about the man asleep at the wheel while waiting for the food, and I realized two important things.  One, I would try to save that man again if the situation presented itself.  Why?  Because somewhere, someone will be waiting for him, and saving him is the right action to take.  Two, I realized that at no point in the car chase did my kids ask us why we were trying so hard to help out.  They just assumed that we needed to help someone obviously in trouble.  I felt good about this, because I want my kids to assume that a person needs to help out others in trouble without expecting a reward. 

The rest of the day went by fairly normally.  On the plus side, we passed through nine states in one day, most of them part of the original thirteen colonies.  On the negative side, being so much more north meant the sun went down around 4:30pm, making all of us feel like it was much later at night then it was.

Eventually, we pulled into the driveway to a warm welcome.  More about our adventures in Massachusetts later... 

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