Fourteen hours with 'Dale, Jr.' and the pit crew

by Rhonda Schrock

Note:  This column was written during the 2008 holiday season.  It’s all still true.
Surviving a 14-hour car trip with 6 people and 12 kidneys is a Christmas miracle right there.  I’m not the only one with an imagination around here.  Mr. Schrock’s got a very colorful one himself.  In our younger years, I honestly think he fancied himself to be Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 
You could see a visible change come over him as he took his place at the wheel.  There was a determined set to his jaw and a glint in his eye.  His body language shouted, “I’m here to conquer and to win!”  Mentally, he would don a one-piece racing suit and a helmet before gunning it out the lane at the sound of the imaginary gun.
I learned real quick that “The Manly Guidebook for Conquering the Open Road” didn’t include potty breaks.  They simply weren’t necessary.  If we all went before we left, then we could surely wait until we got there.  At the very least, we should easily be able to make it to St. Louis, which was seven hours in and halfway there.
See, if we had to stop, then all those semis he’d just passed would sail right by.  So what if they were a friendly bunch, giving us a special wave that either meant we were number one with them or that we had one lap to go.  We were never quite sure.  Either way, getting passed meant you were the loser.
However, even he had to relent and let us out once he realized our kidneys were about to shut down.  With the blood vessels popping in our eyeballs, legs crossed, we would slosh in to the gas station while he circled the building, honking.  At least that’s how I remember it.
To my relief, the trip down went well.  Things got dicey, though, when they started singing, “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall” about 20 minutes down the road.  The singing stopped abruptly when their father killed the sound on their movie, spoiling their fun.  I heard one of them mutter to his brother in the darkness, “Told you he’d shut us down at 95.”
Not being a road warrior myself, I’ve tried various feminine wiles in an effort to get out of driving.  “Look at how your muscles ripple,” I might say in a wheedling tone as he grips the wheel to make a turn.  This only earns me a baleful glare that clearly says, “You’re not fooling me.” 
Hence, the fact that I drove for 3-1/2 hours in the dead of night to give him a break should count for something.  It wasn’t my fault that he couldn’t sleep, thanks to the incredibly windy conditions.  Sure, it may have been distracting, having the driver shout, “Lean to the left!” and, “Pile to the right!” to get us around the curves without tipping over, causing him to “flip and flop (his words),” but he didn’t have to get cranky about it.
All I want for Christmas is one more miracle – getting home with 12 healthy kidneys and a bit of flop-free sleeping.  Is that too much to ask?

Rhonda and her husband are raising four sons.  She telecommutes from the reservation (i.e., her home) while riding shotgun on the hungry horde.  Additionally, she is a weekly columnist and professional blogger who finds hilarity anywhere, including, but not limited to the toothpaste aisle, the laundry room, a church pew, and the Winter Olympics.  She chronicles the tribe's latest shenanigans on her blog, The Natives are Getting Restless.


  1. Ahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa! Thanks for the Monday morning laugh!

    I still throw a rotten egg at my husband when I remember a road trip where he made our 7-year-old daughter wait 20 minutes to go. That was 27 years ago, but her bladder was the size of a walnut, for pity's sake!

  2. No, actually, from my perspective, it is not too much to ask. The last two twelve hour trips we took to NJ in the dark of night were a similar experience. "Restrooms, bah! Who needs them?" Hubby says...Umm, us ladies do...Thankfully child number three, our daughter, was riding with us, and us girls outnumbered him two to one.

    Thanks, Rhonda, you always make me laugh! Blessings!

  3. You're welcome! Glad I'm not the only one with a bladder the size of a walnut. Of course, The Mister's got one up on me because he doesn't drink coffee. I'm just sayin'...

  4. Rhonda:
    This is so hilarious. Thanks for sharing this with us. I am thankful that I don't have to deal with the "if we stop, we'll lose" frame of mind.

  5. Exaaaactly, QuietSpirit! Me, too.

  6. Funny. I'm glad I'm now single because I can stop when and where I want and as many times as I want.


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