Archive for December 17th, 2013

Our odyssey: How one man, one parent and one dog made a drive that normally takes nine-ish hours in half a day

December 17, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 17, 2013

Sing, O muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide after a sojourn in the cradle of Big Tobacco and Duke University. Many roads did he navigate, and many were the highways with whose intersections and traffic he was acquainted. Moreover, he suffered much by the weather while trying to speed his own way and bring his carmates safely home.

I live in Durham, North Carolina, but I grew up in the exurbs of New York City; my parent and the family dog still live in the house where I was raised. Last month, I drove down Parental Unit and Lucky the dog for a week-long visit.

The SUV was packed and loaded and rolling out of my driveway for our northbound return trip around 9 a.m. on Nov. 26, two days before Thanksgiving. I am accustomed to completing the drive between one home and the other — a journey I tend to make at least four or five times a year — in nine or 10 hours. Little did I know that it would be roughly 9 p.m. before we would reach our destination…

The weather was supposed to be rainy all day, and indeed we had not been traveling northeast on Interstate 85 for very long before I had to turn on the windshield wipers.

Our initial bit of drama, however, derived not from the skies but from the game of chicken that I began playing with the fuel gauge on the dashboard. We were about midway between the North Carolina–Virginia line and the I-85/I-95 merge in Petersburg, Va., when I noticed that the indicator was edging toward empty.

My parent noticed it too and called it to my attention. When were we going to stop for gas? I was asked. Um… Up ahead, I replied.

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