It’s 4:15 a.m., the day after Christmas. The Omaha Humbers are expertly packed in the car. It’s like Tetris in here.
We are Nevada-bound for a Smith family reunion, but the next 18 hours of driving may prove to be the death of me (and all intra-family peace).
4:21 a.m.— The car is toasty warm. Dad prays for safety and throws the car into Drive. He eases off the breaks and away we—
“Wait!” cries a voice from the back seat.
4:22 a.m. — It’s Jacob.
“Just stay right here for like…20 seconds. It’s almost done, I promise.”
Jacob is downloading a last-minute game on his iPod and wants to stay within range of our home’s Wi-Fi.
I set my internal egg timer to two minutes. If the download takes a nanosecond longer, I will explode.
4:23 a.m.— Download complete. I do not explode. The car creeps forward.
4:25 a.m.— Not 200 yards from our front door, we have discovered a rattling sound among the cargo. Mom suggests it’s no big deal, we should just keep driving, but dad is visibly annoyed. Rattles really get him.
Jacob halfheartedly attempts to fix it. To everyone’s extreme surprise, he does not succeed.
We pull up to a HyVee. Dad hops out to give fixing the rattle the old college try.
4:29 a.m.— After much a’rummagin and a’mumblin to himself, Dad discovers a loose bolt. Turns out the only thing we didn’t pack was a complete set of tools, but Dad manages to fix the rattle…. With his bare hands. That’s ’cause dads are the best.
4:31 a.m.— Back in the car. As Daniel (our GPS) suggests, we “continue along the highlighted route.”
4:33 a.m.— The rattle is back. It has been literally two minutes.
We stop again. I’m surprised Daniel is so calm. Usually, he’d be all, “Recalculating! Recalculating!”
Stopping in random parking lots tends to confuse him.
4:34 a.m.— Dad gets out again. More grumbling, more rummaging. The rattle has been silenced. Well, muffled. This will have to do.
4:40 a.m.— I smell something foul. Kind of like hard boiled eggs, only I know it’s not. Who is the culprit? It’s obviously one of the boys, because, as Angel Garrett always says, “Ladies don’t fart.” Eloquent.
Jacob mutters, “Wasn’t me. My farts don’t smell today.”
Dad swears it’s the feed lot we just passed. Right.
The ladies are not convinced.
4:45 a.m.— To escape the madness, I decide to nap. I realize there is far too much cargo. I mope.
My brooding is immediately eclipsed by the realization that all this stuff makes a wonderful headrest.
I readjust my earmuff headphones, lean my weary head against a random pile, queue up some Horse Feathers, pride myself on spelling “queue” correctly on the first try, and zonk out.
5:12 a.m.—Potential fiasco No. 1 rears its ugly head.
Despite my thoughtful layering and the “blasting” of hot air through the car, I am freezing. I cannot sleep. Jacob awakens. Apparently he is burning up? He is 18 inches away from me. After a brief exchange, we realize the heat only works on his side of the car.
5:15 a.m.— And now, the great switch: 6-foot-something Jacob unbuckles and manages to crouch on the front console between Mom and Dad. I slither under/behind him and into his seat. He unfolds his spider legs and plops into my old spot.
Switch: Complete. Disaster: Averted. This new spot is the best. I am so cozy.
5:20 a.m.— I am so uncomfortable.
I sit up. Puff my pillow. Rearrange blankets. Twist uncomfortably in my seat…until…aha! I have found it. The most comfortable sleeping position of all time.
I am sideways in my seat, with my feet against the window and my back against a mountain of stuff. If this is what being in the womb is like, I now understand why babies stay there so long. I am going to sleep like this forever!
5:40 a.m.— I wake up. This is just the worst. I can’t move my neck. Or my left leg. Both arms are asleep. Note to self: wombs are for babies.
I rearrange into a more traditional car sleeping position and the cycle begins again: I am so comfortable now!
I can only assume this general sequence of events will continue until we reach our destination. If anything notable happens to transpire over the next 16 and a half hours (or during the equally lengthy return trip) I’ll be sure to highlight it in my next column.
Thanks for tuning into the first hour and a half of this week’s Humber Family Misadventure: Roadtrip Edition.