The last trip the Sisters took to the South (from mid-February to mid-March) was a whopper. Covering over 4,600 miles, we made the month-long journey from Tunnelton, West Virginia--to Winter Haven, Florida--to De Queen, AR--to Sevierville, TN--and everything in between--in our little white Subaru Outback. That car has been pushed to the limits, and yet, it's still running. At least for the time being. With that many miles, you can imagine that there was a lot, and I mean a lot of "squish times" in the car. It's unbelievable how much we can get into that vehicle! You would be amazed, I'm sure--if you could see us.
To Pack a Car
Usually, the suitases are lined up first in the back. There are three gigantic ones, of course. A violin and a bag of hair products goes on top of the suitcases. After this, we put in the guitar, with a few mic stands and such for emergency's sake. (There may be a church or two that doesn't have enough of a system to use.) Then, you place the harp into the mix and add another violin on top of the guitar case. All of this is performed with much care and a lot of "Do you think this will be ok?"s.
Meanwhile, the packing doesn't stop there. Typically, there is always a basket of snacks for those moments when one of the gang just can't wait for McDonalds or some other such place of refuge. (McDonalds, a refuge?) At any rate, that takes up the only empty seat in the car, right behind the driver's seat. There is a music book of various songs, three or four boxes of CDs to sell, the datebook (in case a pastor calls), coats and jackets, a lunch cooler, an old beat-up map (we did pick up a new one on this trip, thank the Lord!), numerous CD cases (for when the driver needs a bit of a wake-up tune), purses, Bibles, and then there are....the bags. When I talk about bags, I mean bags.
On this trip, we limited ourselves to one and one only. We told ourselves that we would not have room for more. But somehow, we always end up bringing more things to do than is humanly possible, even if it is all squeezed into one bag. With all of the meetings, traveling, fellowshipping, and such things, I'm not sure how we think we'll get anything else done. But Marshalls always find a sort of comfort in knowing that in case there are ever some "leisurely" moments available, the bag is always ready and waiting. I suppose it comes from those days when we were younger and we did a lot of sitting around and waiting while the bus was in the shop being repaired.
We haven't even mentioned the extra cups filled with tea or lemonade from some restaurant...or the "to-go" boxes which are ever present. We are famous for our "to-go" boxes. As if that is something for which one wants to be known!
Sitting in the back seat is the worst spot. There is usually a mountain of stuff on your left, and if the car suddenly jerks to a quick stop or a crazy driver takes a corner a bit sharply, you may end up with an avalanche on your hands, maybe even possible suffocation. The upside to sitting here--possibly the only one--is getting to sleep as much as you want. Which is a rarity, actually, because how can one sleep calmly while an avalanche is imminent?
The person in the passenger seat has to maintain a measure of alertness, as this is the one who has to keep track of where we are going. Google maps, mapquest, and various and sundry websites have been relied upon, as well as the beat-up old map. Thank the Lord, after our first GPS had to have some work done on it, we were given another one which has proven to be a boon. Now the passenger seat occupant has only to alert the driver to the turn coming up next. They must, though, keep the driver well supplied with water or coffee or snacks, and have a CD ready to pop in the player at a moment's notice. Besides juggling bags and bottles and other items around her feet.
In the Driver's Seat
The driver, although having to keep on top of her game, gets the luxury of having the most room to herself. Also, she is entitled to whatever she wants to eat or drink, providing the person in the back can find it amongst the piles of stuff. She is well rewarded for her labors with the feeling of actually being able to do something on the long drives, instead of having to sit and stare vacantly out the window. She must remain vigilant at all times, making sure to avoid potholes, which always create anxiety. (We all hear Dad's voice in our heads, "Hard on the tires!") She must also try to keep focused in traffic, whether we are in Dallas, Tampa, or L.A.
As you can see, traveling with the Sisters can be quite the adventure! We would have to say that although it can be wearisome and downright draining, we never lack for some kind of new twist to the road we're taking.
Or the opportunity to make a memory for a lifetime.
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