The trip to Hull, Massachusetts sounded perfect. I had been invited down by a good friend, and on two days when the rest of my family was going to be otherwise occupied. The weather looked good, and the only person needing to prepare for this trip was me. What could go wrong?
But given my history of absent-mindedly leaving important items behind I took nothing for granted. I began packing the night before my scheduled departure so I’d be less likely to forget something significant. I made sure to put the laundry bag I had neglected to take on my last trip in my red duffel bag. Then I packed a small zippered blue pouch with a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, dental floss, aspirin, a razor, and a comb. Next I printed, in large, legible block letters, Mapquest’s 15-step driving directions to Hull and put them on the driver’s seat of my car. I also tossed in my helmet, as we were planning to rent bikes and do some riding while I was there, along with some Prairie Home Companion CDs I’d been meaning to listen to. I also brought the cooler up from the basement, lined it with a towel, and left it next to my bed so I’d remember to fill it with snacks in the morning. In addition I packed a small paper bag with little jars of Maine-made honey as hospitality gifts and placed it in the car before going to bed, as it seemed like just the sort of thing I might forget the following morning.
Finally I packed my red duffle bag with three days worth of clean clothes (yes, it was only a two-day trip, but it's always best to be prepared for the unexpected), plus an extra pair of sneakers, a couple of lucky stuffed animals, the book I was reading, and the little blue bathroom bag. I also took out my 1969 Seattle Pilots replica baseball hat, into which I put my keys, wallet, glasses and comb. I left it on the kitchen table right where I knew I'd be eating breakfast a few hours later.
The next morning I got up promptly at 6:30. I put snacks, water, and ice in the cooler, ate a hearty breakfast, then took an invigorating twelve-mile bike ride, stopping en route at an ATM to pick up a bit of emergency cash. When I came back I showered, loaded the car, and got ready to go, cautiously optimistic that for once in my life I had not overlooked a single thing prior to going on a trip.
Backing the car out of the driveway, I got 50 yards up the street, and….realized I had forgotten my cell phone! Shaking my head in exasperation I turned around, grabbed the diabolically elusive device off the table where I had left it, took one final look around and, satisfied I finally had everything I needed, took off for real.
Thanks to Garrison Keillor’s skillful spinning of yarns and a plethora of snacks a mere arm’s length away, the potentially harrowing 149-mile trek was a breeze. I arrived at my destination right on time, and miraculously hadn't made even one wrong turn!
My hosts asked if I needed any help with my luggage, but I told them not to worry. All I needed to bring upstairs was the red duffel bag. That’s when I opened the trunk and saw…..nothing.
I had carefully packed everything EXCEPT the red duffle bag, which contained the clean clothes, bathroom kit, book I was reading, extra shoes, and everything else I needed.
At that point all I could do was laugh, or at least try to do so half as hard as my hosts did.
The next morning I went out, determined to either obtain new apparel OR purchase a chisel with which to remove the outfit I’d have been wearing for the better part of three days when I got home. Ultimately I bought a long-sleeved t-shirt and two pairs of underwear. I also learned finding a pair of socks for a pair of size 14 feet isn’t so easy in a small town department store.
In retrospect this mini-disaster, like many others I’ve experienced, ultimately affected me not one whit. I saw some great sites, did a ton of biking, ate like a king, and had a quality visit with two very special friends. My ride home was totally stress-free, and sure enough when I got back the red duffel bag was sitting right on the kitchen floor where I had left it.
The bottom line: I had a fantastic time.
And on top of that, I’m already all packed up for my next road trip!
By Andy Young Word Count: 784Andy Young
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