It has taken me a while to warm up to Nick. He escorted Amy to an 8th grade dance back in the day, and I considered him to be a bit of a hoodlum at the time. After that dance, Amy and Nick didn’t see much of each other until Amy was in college. They began dating during Christmas break of her freshman year. He treats her wonderfully, and I’ve come to know him as a genuinely good guy.
I’m a bit of a higher education snob. I will admit I was initially displeased that the love of Amy’s life didn’t go to college. But I’m beginning to think Nick may be on to something. He is an electrician, has a good job, and carries no student loan debt. I don’t know how many of my friends have kids with fancy $200,000 degrees from top-notch universities, who are now back living with their parents, painting houses or making burritos for chump change in this depressed job market.
Now that we had committed to a summer vacation in Cleveland, we needed to figure out how to get all five of us from here to there and back again. It was too expensive to fly everyone, so we started planning a road trip. It turned out that I had enough frequent flyer miles remaining from my working days that I could fly one person to Cleveland. Zach was the obvious choice. Lucky him.
Zach is a second degree black belt, pictured here.
Marriage is teamwork. As such, we all bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table. I brought an ability to shoot a semi-automatic rifle, the skills to make a living by transforming trees into paper, and a passion for tracking every aspect of our lives on Excel spreadsheets. Kim brought uncanny shopping acumen, an extraordinary grasp of adolescent minds that manifested itself in a career as a middle school guidance counselor, and the ability to pack an unimaginable number of items into a very small space.
That last skill came in useful when we were trying to fit everything into our new van for the road trip: two wheelchairs, four people, and all of our luggage. This had to be accomplished in such a way that I could easily get in and out of the van, in my wheelchair, at our various pit stops. I couldn’t see how it would possibly work, but Kim made it look easy.
We picked up Amy and Nick at their nearby apartment and set out on the road for Cleveland at 5:30 AM on a Wednesday. I’ve come to learn over the years that the secret to a successful road trip is bladder synchronization. I commend the group for their exceptional effort in this regard. Because we didn’t have to make any stops that the whole group couldn’t “take advantage of,” we reached our destination at about 5:30 PM.
I manage fairly well on long road trips. My Invacare wheelchair reclines and allows me to elevate my feet. I make enough position adjustments throughout the ride that I don’t get stiff and sore. I brought the iBot, too, but it’s not as well suited for long hours of occupation in a vehicle. I don’t go on road trips without my Kindle, but I probably only read for 2 hours on this drive. I tried to keep Kim company instead. Interstate I-90 across the entire state of New York is one long, boring stretch of highway. Although Amy and Nick offered to take a shift at the wheel, Kim was not enamored of sitting in the back seat, so she drove straight through.
Here I was, 750 miles from the sanctuary that is my accessible home. I felt slightly exposed and vulnerable, but at the same time alive, engaged, and ready for a good time.
Click for next post: Cleveland 2012, #3
Click for previous post: Cleveland 2012, #1