Shannon makes a bunch of animal noises. Not the good kind.

“I was wondering,” I say. “Would maybe…July or August be better for our trip?”

The words coming out of her groggy mouth are unintelligible, but I’m pretty sure she’s threatening to hurt me. I’m not sure why I thought she’d be more open to suggestion while half-awake. Maybe it’s because I’ve won many an argument with her while she was completely asleep.

“I hear it’s nicer at that time of year,” I say. I’ve heard no such thing, of course.

“Where’d you hear that?” she says.

“From Bill,” I say. “He’s taken the Yellowstone trip. He said July is nicer.”

“I’ve already made a bunch of reservations,” she grumbles.

“Oh,” I say.

Shannon seems to dose off again, but it’s an illusion. Five minutes later, the nightstand light is on and she’s sitting up, staring at me.

“What’s going on?” she says.

“Nothing,” I say, turning my back to her. “I just want the best experience for our family, that’s all.”

“No you don’t,” she says. “You want the trip to be so awful that you never have to do it again.”

“That’s silly,” I say.

“I’m buying a new tent, you know,” she says, like it’s a threat. Which it is.

“Good,” I say.

“You hate tents,” she says.

Before we had kids, Shannon and I camped once. Once. I lasted less than an hour in the tent before taking my sleeping bag to our Ford Escort. A Ford Escort has never felt so luxurious to me before or since.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say. “Bugs, rain, cold…I’m all about that. Love it.”

“Tent technology has improved vastly in the last 15 years, I'll have you know,” Shannon says. “We are going to be dry and bug-free. The tent even has a little overhang, like a front porch.”

“Sounds great,” I say. “I’m sure it’ll be very comfortable.”


The best tent technology 150 bucks can buy.

Shannon lies back down, but I can tell by the slow motion of her movement that she’s still deep in thought. Light off. Thirty seconds later, light back on.

“Promise me one thing,” she says. “Just try to enjoy yourself. You can make this trip miserable, or you can make it fun. I know you’re not a natural when it comes to camping, so we’ll do cabins here and there…for you.”
Cabins. Here and there. Yippee.

“I promise I’ll try to enjoy myself,” I say.

Light off. Ten seconds this time.

“What’s wrong with June anyway?”

“June is fine,” I say. “I mean, there may be some…sports things going on, but we’ll work around it.”

Sports things?” she says. “There’s no Super Bowl in June. What else is there?”
Incredible. As if there are no sporting events other than the Super Bowl. Does she not realize there’s an entire channel devoted to sports that has new stuff on it every single day? It’s as if I said to her “You already have a pair of shoes. Why would you need more?”

“It’s fine,” I say. “The NBA Finals are going on about that time, but the Celtics would still have to make it there, and that’s no guarantee, so it’s fine.”

“But if they do make it, you’ll be miserable,” she says, expectantly.

“No,” I say. I almost believe myself. “I’ll manage to find places to watch the games. I’m not worried.”

Shannon lies back down. Again, slowly. I get no reassurance from her that my needs will be met, or that my games will be watched. I can only assume that Shannon, who has been studying up on the various legs of the trip and the various facilities where we will stay, realizes that we will be about as in the middle of nowhere as we can be. I imagine the Web sites and brochures saying things like “Good luck finding a television out here!” and using that as a selling point.

Now my nightstand light goes on.

Should I be worried, honey?”

Shannon does not reply. In a miracle that defies the laws of her DNA, she is fast asleep. I’m surprised she isn’t trying to fake snore a little too.

I lie back down, realizing that my own DNA might be in jeopardy as well.

I think I’m actually hoping the Celtics don’t make the finals.

I turn my head. Next to me in bed is Patch, grinning.

“Do you need to be held?” he says.

“Shut up,” I reply.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin

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Anonymous The Unknown Miner said...
I went up to Glacier & Yellowstone last year, driving from Ohio. Once you're in ND, there's literally nothing for as far as the eye can see. You can see weather coming in from like 120 miles away. I could tell we were going to get soaked almost an hour before it happened. It's so open up there it's unnerving.