A couple of years ago, Justin’s mom rented a house in Amelia Island, FL and invited Justin and me down to visit. We jumped at the chance to head down to the Sunshine State and spend some quality time with her. We flew down and enjoyed a relaxing week in a beautiful house right on the beach. Justin’s mom decided to rent that same house last year and very nicely invited us back down for another visit, along with Justin’s brother. We jumped at the chance again, but a little hesitantly this time.
See, things have changed in the last couple of years. We got married and moved, sure, but we also acquired a hound. Brody was a couple months shy of a year old last March and didn’t always behave like the charming do-gooder he is today. We couldn’t in good conscience leave him with a friend or family member if we wanted them to stay friends or family members. Our options were limited; we could either 1) skip out on a lovely Florida vacation with Justin’s mom, 2) sacrifice a loved one and ask them to stay with B$ or 3) drive the 20 hours to Florida with 3 people and an anxious dog.
I’m pretty sure Justin thought I was kidding when I suggested driving instead of flying. My family and I used to drive down to Disney World every year when I was little. I have wonderful memories of those trips and remember the drive being easy peasy. Looking back, it’s probably because I wasn’t doing much of the driving. Me and my older brother and sister were mostly in charge of sleeping and rockin’ out to our road trip tunes (Billboard’s Greatest Hits: 1979 and Queen’s Greatest Hits, in case you were wondering), at which we excelled. Also, there was never a dog in the car with us. So I guess that’s what I was thinking of when I kept on suggesting that we drive. The way I saw it, we would save some cash (with 3 of us splitting gas money it was sure to be cheaper than buying plane tickets), have an adventure AND we wouldn’t have to subject any of our loved ones to minding B$ for the week while we were gone! Everybody wins!
I think I eventually wore Justin down and we found ourselves making some snacks, packing up the XTerra and mapping out our route to Florida (read: putting the address in the GPS). We were off!
We left our place at around 7pm on a Friday. We figured we would each drive until we got tired and then switch off with another person who had spent the last few hours napping. We packed food to eat in the car so that we wouldn’t have to stop for long periods at at time and we brought a blanket and some treats for Brody. He spends a good amount of his time napping anyways so we assumed he would sit back and enjoy the ride.
We were wrong. My gosh, were we wrong.
He paced and panted for the first few hours of the trip. Every time we stopped at a rest area he would act as though our main goal was to bolt as soon as the car stopped and abandon him at some gas station in Delaware. We did everything we could think of but poor B was just not calming down; we were 12 hours into the trip and he hadn’t even sat down yet. Eventually we decided to slip him half a Benadryl, thinking that would tucker him out so that he could rest. The good news: he got super tired. The bad news: he was so convinced that we were going to tuck and roll as soon as he closed his eyes that he somehow powered through the meds and would sort of nod off standing up, shaking himself awake just as we thought he was slipping into sweet unconsciousness.
Finally, FINALLY, he figured out that if he slept on whoever was sitting in the back seat (literally, as high up on the person as he could get) then he was probably safe. After all, if they tried to open the door and bail out of the moving car, they would have to take him with them, given his perch atop their head. Now we could all relax. Here is a shot of B letting his guard down a little: I was sitting in the passenger seat and he was sitting on Justin’s brother, who was sitting behind me. B figured out that by standing on Justin’s brother and resting his head on the back of my seat, he could rest his eyes a little while remaining ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
You can’t pull the wool over his eyes, that’s for sure.
Depending on who you ask, the drive itself wasn’t that bad. We left at 7pm on Friday and arrived in Amelia Island around 1:30pm on Saturday. We each drove for 3 or 4 hours at a time and then we would stop at a rest area to stretch our legs and let B do his business. Since we drove through the night we didn’t feel as though we had missed out on a day of vacation; if we had flown down on Saturday, we probably wouldn’t have gotten there until the early afternoon anyways (what I’m doing here is trying to convince everyone that my idea to drive was the right way to go. How am I doing?).
Our time in Florida was wonderful (I’ll do a separate post on that some other time) and our ride home went better than we expected. A friend of Justin and his brother had flown down (smart boy) to meet us and was going to be joining us on the drive home. We figured it would be a little tight with 4 people and an anxious dog in one car but having 2 people in the backseat actually seemed to calm Brody down. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t even close to comfortable for the people involved, but B was happy which made us happy (or happier, at least).
Some general takeaways from our experience: New York is stressful, New Jersey is full of traffic even at 1am, Washington DC is neat in the wee hours of the morning and South of the Border is still the coolest place ever.
The rest of the states are kind of a blur. Personally, I would drive down again, but I’m not sure anyone else involved (person or pup) would feel the same way…