DRESSING THE DOG
Chapter 3 (Part Two)
We were up bright and early, hitting the highway and heading home. We would spend the night somewhere in Tennessee and be home in two days. Mummy had the tripped all planned out, sort of. We weren’t sure where, exactly, we would stay… but we would drive as far as we could and stop around dinnertime. She guessed it would be somewhere in Tennessee. The plan was to get through the Washington, D.C area before 3:00pm so that we could miss the rush-hour traffic. Actually, EVERY HOUR was like rush-hour but it would be worse after 3:00 so that was the plan. Everything was going accordingly and traffic was moving along nicely. We decided to pull into a mega gas-station/fast-food metropolis where Mummy and Daddy could grab a burger and me and Katie could take care of some personal business… then get back on the highway. We were about 50 miles outside of the D.C area and we wanted to just fly through once we got back in the car. This pit stop was the biggest darn place you have ever seen. Dozens of gas pumps and a building that housed just about every fast-food chain that you can dream of! The parking lot held HUNDREDS, I kid you not, of cars, trailers, trucks, motorcycles and big rigs of every make and model. It was a ZOO. We took our time and got everything taken care of and got loaded back into the car… but we couldn’t get out of the parking lot. There was some sort of traffic jam at the exit. We tried to turn around and find another exit, but that one was blocked too. It didn’t take long to realize that ALL of the exits were blocked and we were all stuck inside the parking lot like some kind of weird tailgating party gone mad. Soon, people were getting out of their cars and walking around to find out WHY no one could leave the parking lot. I mean, HUNDREDS of people were stuck in this lot. By this time, EVERYONE was trying to leave. No one could come IN, and no one could go OUT! As we all became these sort of weird parking lot “friends,” word finally sifted about our community that someone from the “President’s office” had entered the highway with his entourage of cars and EVERY SINGLE EXIT along their route was being blocked. NO ONE could enter or exit that highway… for MILES AND MILES. Honestly, I didn’t know that something like this could even be done, in the LEGAL sense of the word. The number of cars at that moment, that were being back up along the roads was staggering!!! We sat in that parking lot for over an hour, waiting on “someone important” who obviously wasn’t US, to drive to his destination, unencumbered by traffic of any kind.
When we were FINALLY free to go, to say that there was a traffic jam on the highway NOW, would be an understatement. EVERY exit that HAD been blocked was being opened… and THOUSANDS of cars were filling the roads so it was literally bumper to bumper, driving about 10 miles an hour. At this rate, we would miss Thanksgiving, which was still weeks away… and we might not make it home for Christmas either. But WAIT! We had a GARMIN navigator that we had been using for the trip and it was “very helpfully” making detour suggestions. Daddy thought that perhaps we should take a detour OFF the highway. Mummy reminded him that we didn’t have a REAL MAP, but he said we didn’t need one. We had the GARMIN! He said that maps were “old school” anyway. Hmmm. We took GARMIN’S first suggestion and hadn’t driven far when a SECOND detour suggestion was made. YIKES… this was getting complicated! Daddy said not to worry… these things work off satellites in space. It knows where we are even if we don’t. Uh-huh. Twenty minutes later we got another detour suggestion and Mummy said she thought we were going too far WEST, GENTLY REMINDING Daddy that we lived on the EAST COAST, just in case he had forgotten. He said he knew what he was doing. I was starting to feel a little carsick, and Katie didn’t look so hot either. After a few more detours, we honestly had no idea WHERE we were. I’m not sure we were still in the same STATE! All of this was before cell phones were SUPER SMART PHONES. This was when YOU had to be somewhat smart, yourself! So Mummy suggested they stop at a gas station and buy a REAL MAP. When we finally FOUND a gas station, the man inside said NO WAY should we be taking “detours” to get to the D.C area if we didn’t know our way around. His advice was to GO BACK to the highway and endure the traffic. So that is what we did. Several hours later, we were RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED. It was going to be dark soon and we hadn’t even reached D.C. We would not make it to Tennessee. In fact, it was well past dark when we found a little hotel in Virginia to stop for the night. We all collapsed in the “big bed” with Katie diapered-up for everyone’s protection, and slept like Zombies until morning.
We slept as late as we could and piled back into the car. The worst was hopefully behind us and Mummy said we would be home by dinnertime, but Katie and I didn’t want to get our hopes up too much. As it turned out, the trip back really did FLY by. Before we knew it, we were sniffing our noses around and smelling the familiar scent of our ocean breezes! We KNEW that smell and it excited us. Katie and I both stood up on our car seat bed and looked out the window, our little nubby tails wagging ninety miles an hour. As we turned into our neighborhood, the smells got even stronger. We knew EXACTLY where we were. It would be a long time before we tried to take Katie on another trip, she just didn’t like leaving the comfort of her own home. Years later, when we got our own travel trailer, she would learn to LOVE traveling… but for now, Katie Bug would stay at home curled up in someone’s lap. We were HOME.
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