Road Trip to Hades

August 09, 2012

Raise your hand if you've had a car trip like this one.

On a recent Summer day, we had a plan to drive from Destin to Miami. We had spent a couple of quick days in Destin to hang out with friends there, and we had a boat charter to start from Miami a couple of days later. We planned one long, hard day of driving, which would give us a full day to see a little bit if Miami and to provision for the boat trip.

We had gotten a little blow-past from Tropical Storm Debby while we were in Destin. We knew it had gone East, and that it had the potential to slow us down, but we were undeterred.

Fast forward, say, six hours or so. I had gotten into the passenger seat, got connected to the internet, and was actually getting caught up on some work that needed to be done. It was only a few minutes before I noticed that the air conditioning seemed to be blowing humid air. Thirty minutes later, it was humid and warm.

Opening the windows was an option, but an unappealing one, as we had caught up to the steady rain of the tropical storm. But at least it wasn't piping hot, so we went back and forth between roasting and being wet.

Meanwhile, our body heat turned the wet hot air into fog, and it got closer and closer to impossible to see out of the fogged up window. A toy animal was pressed into duty as in inside windshield wiper as I tried in vain to fix the air conditioner by turning it on and off repeatedly.

As we turned South onto Interstate 75, traffic came to a stop altogether. And there we sat, in our foggy, wet, hot car, for about two and a half hours. We also happened to be in an AT&T dead spot, so I couldn't go online and get any information (or entertainment).

While we weren't moving, I let Vanya switch places with me. I crammed into his booster in back, while he went up front and asked about the function of each and every button on the dash. I let Kolya out of his car seat, opened the window, and let him shout "HI" to drivers who were lucky enough to inch past in the next lane.

I eventually dozed off, neck craned to the side to fit my height between the booster seat and the ceiling of the car. I woke to find us finally moving. We had been stuck in the hot, damp car for two and a half hours.

After driving at a decent pace for a while, we saw the most amazing rainbow that I've ever seen. By that time I was driving, and we were still wet and hot, so it was too much effort to pull out a camera. But the bands of color looked almost solid, like columns of color, and they seemed to be just yards away. The rainbow stretched up and over the sky, and came down on the far horizon. Then, it had a shadow double arching along its outside. The shadow would have been amazing on its own, but with the main rainbow, we barely noticed.

It hung with us for a long time, until the sun disappeared below the treeline, sapping it of it's light.

It took us at least four more hours to make it all the way to our hotel in Miami. I have to give big credit to my kids, who suffered through the whole day with very, very little crying or complaining. I would have never predicted such good behavior from either of them, much less from both of them together.