My husband and I scream things at each other, “do you need anything, water, snack?” Mostly I scream these things at him and he shakes his head at me. Then we sit in relative silence. Relative because there is the wind. The wind whips through the car. My hair is in my eyes, tangled up so that I know I will be brushing it out all night once we get to the hotel. And then there is talk of the wind; the kids tell us there is too much wind, too little wind. The wind is as much a part of this trip as the landscape, the miles we travel, our destination.
We bought our 1996 Jeep Cherokee from my parents soon after college graduation. It was more a favor on my parents part than because they really needed to get rid of it. It’s a wonderful car. It’s a classic. It’s a nice neutral color. It’s that great boxy shape that Jeep does so well. And the miles, well, it has miles. It had miles when we bought it from my parents, 182,000 miles to be exact. But since then we’ve managed to add a few of our own. We’re up to 345,811 miles.
A lot of those miles are pretty important to us. Like the miles that got my husband to the wedding venue where we said “I do”. The miles that got me to the hospital where my son was born are important. The ones that got me to the hospital for my daughter’s birth are just as important. The Jeep took my husband into hospital for back surgery and had me sitting by his side waiting to take him home in the same car. The Jeep didn’t drive us across country when we moved from California to Wisconsin or Wisconsin to Colorado. It did get towed right along behind both those loaded-to-the-brim trailers, though. My husband and I laughed as we sat in the front of those cabs, looking forward to our new lives, new homes, new places. The car hasn’t changed.
So, here we are, driving from Denver, CO to Keystone, SD. We want to see one of the great American monuments, Mt. Rushmore. We have decided to do a road trip. We are not normally road trip people. We wonder along the way if our car will make it, if we should be driving eight hundred miles on her poor tired engine, her used up body, her worn parts. But we keep going and along the way we yell loudly to each other over the sound of rushing wind because turning on the air conditioning would be pushing our luck.