Weekend Wanderer: Driving the Kids Around Has Become Epic

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weekend wanderer

I’ve been everywhere. 

Man. 

I probably didn’t look as cool as The Man in Black, but I’ve been everywhere.  

OK. Maybe I didn’t cross the deserts bare, but I did breathe the mountain air. 

Once. 

Rolling Stone says Johnny Cash travels 112,515 miles when he goes everywhere. I’m starting to think he covered that song because he had, like, five kids.  

Can you imagine how many years he spent carting them around? 

I only have two-fifths as many kids as Johnny Cash.  

Huh. And my daughter says I have a lot of black in my wardrobe. I should count exactly how much. 

If two-fifths of my wardrobe is black, maybe I’m two-fifths Johnny Cash. 

Anyway. 

I say this because, over the last two years, driving the kids around has extended beyond the school run and karate. 

It began with our son’s summer tutoring. It was specialized, an intensive program not provided by the tutoring center around the corner. 

That he could walk to. 

Instead, for three days a week — over two summers — we drove from Bucks County to King of Prussia

While we maintain every inch of that trek was worth it, our son asserts that tutoring is L-bozo. 

If you don’t speak Teenager, I can translate for you. 

L-bozo is Teenager for “stupid.”  

It’s actually a dialect of Teenager. 

Known as Snark. 

It’s a foreign language so I’m not sure about the spelling of L-bozo. But I do get the meaning.  

Once you’ve driven nineteen miles three days a week for two summers, time and distance distort.  

Like getting hit by a gravitational wave. 

So when our daughter had to go to Royersford, it didn’t seem all that bad. It was only 15 miles further. 

Twice a month. 

For two years. 

But Johnny travels to over twenty states when he goes everywhere. If I want to be two-fifths Johnny Cash, I need to get in the game. 

So, then, let’s talk about North Carolina

Our daughter has attended summer camp in North Carolina for two years. She loved it so much, she settled on a college there as her second-choice school. 

Now, I drove her to camp both summers. But my plan for visiting the college was to fly. 

Until she asked if she could bring her surfboard. 

Do I know how I wound up with a scuba diving, surfing kid in the middle of Bucks County?  

I do not. 

But maybe it’s the same way I wound up with the hunter I met in that Philly graduate school. 

As I write this, hunting gear hangs in my laundry room and scuba gear is drying on my deck. 

I — I don’t know how I got here.  

I do know how I got to North Carolina for that college visit. 

I drove. 

I don’t know how to bring a surfboard on an airplane. And I wasn’t interested in doing the work of finding out. Driving to North Carolina seemed easier. 

And maybe that’s OK because I don’t think Johnny knew how to get a surfboard on an airplane, either. 

This year — 2023 — is what I call The Year of New Jersey. 

I was already making regular trips to Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey, thanks to that scuba diving, surfing kid cringing at my two-fifths Johnny Cash wardrobe.

That kid became a de facto fixture at the aquarium, so volunteering with their summer camp seemed natural. 

Which means I can take the careens from I-95 to the Ben Franklin Bridge like I’m Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder.

Rubbing is racing, am I right? 

But this kid of mine, who clearly should have been born to a family on the Equator or in Australia or California, also spent much of the summer surfing in New Jersey. 

And then, of course, we got certified to scuba dive in New Jersey. 

And because I’ve fallen in love with our Jersey-based dive shop, we continue diving with them. 

Which means more time in New Jersey. 

Something I didn’t realize about scuba diving — gear gets picked up a day or two before the dive. So any dive means two round trips to Jersey. 

Also, when I say “I’ve fallen in love with our dive shop,” what I mean is that I know they won’t let me die while scuba diving. 

I have only dived to a depth of twenty feet. But I still feel like Death is stalking that situation. 

Surfing and scuba are not the end of my Jersey excursions. 

Over the summer, my son did a camp in — yeah — New Jersey. For five days, he and I drove back and forth to Montclair

One thing I’d like to say about both the Montclair and scuba trips — my phone takes me a different route home than it takes me on our trip into Jersey.  

I don’t understand where, geographically, this route lies in relation to our trip into New Jersey. It’s like the woods in The Blair Witch Project — the path into the forest disappears when you turn around. 

Maybe I really have been hit by a gravitational wave. 

I estimate that, by December’s end, I’ll have driven to New Jersey over 40 times in 2023. 

Like Johnny, I’ve been to Baltimore. Last weekend, I added Scranton to the tally. 

That’s the mountain air I breathed.  

That counts, right? 

Johnny travels 112,515 miles. I estimate I’ve traveled just over 15,000. 

That’s 13 percent of what Johnny traveled. 

Maybe I’m not two-fifths of The Man in Black after all. 

But really. Is anyone?

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