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Jared Felkins' Column: Are we there yet? Trip to Texas bring back memories
Jan 12, 2013 3:50 pm
Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared in the Nov. 30, 2011 edition of the Times-Journal in Fort Payne, Ala. As a correction to last week’s column, it was Tee Martin who quarterbacked the Tennessee Vols to a 1998 national championship. Apparently this Alabama boy’s memory isn’t what it used to be. Thanks to everyone, including the same brother-in-law we visited on the following trip, for pointing out my error. In any case, I hope readers will enjoy this true blast from the past this week.
If you ever want to know exactly how you feel about someone, invite that person on a road trip.
I’m sure someone famous once said that, but if not I’m claiming it.
The Felkins family returned from one of its famed road trips to Texas. This time the destination was somewhere between Pflugerville and Round Rock on the outskirts of Austin.
For fans of this column who have read something similar in the past, we were visiting the same folks we usually visit in Texas - my wife’s sister and her family - but they moved from just north of Dallas to Round Rock last year.
We left extremely early last Wednesday morning, because we knew we had about a 14-hour drive ahead of us. I took the con – that’s controls for all of you non-Star Trek fans – first and made it to Meridian, Miss., before anyone woke up. We stopped for gas on a more interesting side of Jackson, Miss. We stopped to eat in Ruston, La., and took a bathroom break at the Texas state line.
That’s it. In about 500 miles of travel in a minivan that took about nine hours, we stopped a total of four times. And my son and I were in the car with three girls.
It was amazing. But about 30 miles into Texas my wife had to go ahead and say it. “This trip really hasn’t been all that bad.”
Then it happened.
Mary had a previous trip out to Round Rock under her belt. She knew the GPS was not accurate on the third leg, off-the-interstate part of the journey. She told me I had to find state Highway 31. That would take us on a four-lane highway all the way from Tyler to Round Rock, nearly 300 miles, with ease.
Instead of going right, I decided to follow the GPS’s instructions and go left. I’m prone to go left from time to time. Shoot, I’m left-handed. Left just seemed right.
As I would soon find out, the decision proved to be quite possibly the worst decision I have ever made. I’ve never actually seen flames leap from one’s eyelids like the scene I witnessed as I sat across from my wife that day.
They seemed to grow higher and higher, as if to nearly singe the eyebrows, with every mile of two-lane road we had to endure, every 200-population town we visited and every traffic light that delayed us even further.
As night fell and at long last, we finally emerged from the vast rural wasteland and arrived at my sister-in-law’s house.
“See, I told you I would get us here,” I told my wife after driving 377 miles of Texas back roads.
Her response might not be appropriate for print, but we now know that it takes a lot more than one wrong turn to break this circle of love.
Jared Felkins is The Lebanon Democrat’s director of content. He may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 13 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.