by EMILY ORTON
Amazon shipped us floor mats instead of roof rails. That caused a two-day delay in our cross-country road trip, but also gave us the chance to remember our van needed a state inspection this month (Tip: Get your state inspections at car dealerships. They have the best waiting rooms.) So that was lucky.
Driving home from the inspection Erik said, “I guess we’ll leave tomorrow (Friday) morning.”
“I’d like to get going tonight…otherwise, why did we drive all over White Plains and install roof rails in a parking lot?” I said.
“We could go tonight. I wasn’t making an announcement,” he said.
“I see your points about not getting very far and paying to stay somewhere,” I said. “Let’s ask the kids what they’d prefer.”
Alison said, “Either way. I’m Sweden.”
Karina said, “I think you mean Switzerland.” Everybody was Switzerland. We slept at home one more night. Possibly to prove we were serious about leaving, Erik picked 8 a.m. as our departure time. “Everyone in bed by 11 p.m. and up by 7 a.m,” he said.
At 8 a.m. a steady soaking rain melted Manhattan into an urban rainforest. We waited it out until 9 a.m.
“I’m glad we got the bins with the solid lids,” Erik said. We had labored over those bins. They were our second set. We bought hinged-lid bins at Costco.
“So the lids won’t fly off at high speed,” Erik said.
“What if it rains?”
“It doesn’t rain much where we’re going,” Erik said, thinking of Idaho and Utah.
“In Portland?” I said. We set our metal roof basket on the asphalt of the Costco parking lot and put in all the hinge-lidded bins. They fit perfectly.
“Now, I’m worried about water getting inside. Let’s check Home Depot,” Erik said. We came out with Roughneck “virtually indestructible,” according to Rubbermaid, bins with separate weather-proof lids. A bungee net ties the whole package together. We each get one bin as our suitcase. We returned the Costco bins. Within 20 blocks of home, the entire roof basket slid six inches to starboard. We stopped. Erik, Alison and Karina removed and repacked the entire package and reinstalled it adding friction underneath and cinching down everything that could be cinched. We started again.
We’re halfway through the first day. We’ve stopped on the shoulder of the road or pulled into various gas stations at least seven times to reattach lids, drill holes (whoops, no power in those outlets), punch holes in the lids to zip tie them to the bins and to rescue one bin that likes to slide off the stack. I say we, but I mean Erik. I can’t help because I’m wedged into the backseat with backpacks, pillows and guitars. I gave Eli the shotgun seat for the first leg of our trip because he was the first one dressed this morning.
In his recent Harvard commencement speech, Mark Zuckerberg said, “Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started.” I find it encouraging knowing I won’t get it right the first time or even the seventeenth time. To paraphrase Art and Fear, we don’t get frustrated because things go slow. We get frustrated because we expected things to go fast. Still, I need a lot of reminders that struggle is the status quo. In the midst of my pre-departure anxiety Erik said, “We’re not going to have a perfectly streamlined road tripping system set up before we leave. It’s going to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. We’ll tweak it and make improvements along the way. We’ll figure it out as we go.”
So, that’s what we’re doing today: starting and stopping, starting and stopping, starting and stopping, and figuring it out as we go.
Next post, west coast.
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