I’m sitting in bed at the Marriott in Dayton, Ohio, after an 11-hour road trip to the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. I live in Charlotte, NC, and this road trip should have taken less than 8 hours, but it was a true comedy of errors that left me sitting at a traffic light crying because I was laughing so hard.
So Lisa, what was so funny about this road trip. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning to drive to Ohio. Back in the day, Linda Evangelista said “I don’t get up for less than $10,000 a day.” We can learn a lot from Linda, but I’m drifting so let me come back around. I drove about 35 minutes from my house with every angry driver on the road at 6:30 a.m. to pick up my friend Carla so we could wind our way up the interstate to Beckley, WV, to pick up our friend Anne. She appeared around 10:30, hopped in my car and cried “TO ERMA! But let’s grab a coffee and go to the bathroom first.”
We stopped in Starbucks for road fuel and experienced what is possibly the cleanest public bathroom any of us have ever been in and that’s where things started to go incredibly wrong. W.R.O.N.G — wrong. High on bleach fumes, we pealed out in my trusty Honda chariot. Our rag-tag gang of yoga-panted, t-shirted, sneaker wearing warriors, chugged coffee drinks of varying strengths and flavors in between our battle cry of ERMAZON!
The interstate beckoned us; an asphalt lover waiting on our rubber to meet its dark, gray, knee-scraping roughness. As we turned to head West, conversation flew fast and furious. So fast and furious, we didn’t notice until it was too late that the E-Z Pass didn’t pick up our reader. (I’m going to get a nastygram in the mail from them for forty cents.) I was the common denominator and two new friends were in the making as we watched for the toll road police who were going to come and take me away for now being a hardened criminal. An hour later, we saw the sign welcoming us to Virginia.
We were supposed to be in OHIO. Where was Ohio? WHY WERE WE IN VIRGINIA????
Because the signage sucks and we went the wrong damn way. After turning around, stopping for gas and having a less than desirable bathroom experience somewhere in the middle of Deliverance country, we waxed poetically over the bleached to within an inch of its life bathroom inside of Starbucks, wished we’d had a vat of sanitizer to dip our bodies in and made our way back to Beckley, WV. An eternity later, we whizzed past Beckley, paid the toll and kept our eyes on every sign to make sure the highways weren’t changing. After a truck-stop grab and go lunch (with very clean toilets) we were back on the road and an hour later, missed our exit again.
I am a seasoned road tripper. I’ve been taking road trips my entire life and never have I ever missed two turns. NEVER. We were three women with tiny computers in our chariot that were more powerful than the computers that helped launch Apollo 8 into space. Tiny computers we call cell phones WITH GPS. Thankfully, we only had to backtrack 4 miles to drive our shortcut through some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen.
Dear Martha. After driving down a beautiful, but very…. interesting side road, we finally cross into Ohio. Say it with me, Ohio. Breathe it in, Ohio. Oh, Ohio. We finally made it into Dayton and were driving 15 mph over the speed limit so as not to get run over, while drivers passed us and gave us the one finger salute because we weren’t going faster.
Finally, we saw our Marriott, beckoning us with it’s gleaming sign, ample parking, and the promise of comfy beds, overpriced bottles of water, and free internet. We got out of the car, spread our wings, and heralded our victory with cackling cries “ERMA! ERMA! ERMA!” Victorious, we raised our hands in triumph. We were road warriors and we had made it.
Finding out we arrived one day before our reservation started is a story for another time….