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Are We There Yet?

There are three basic phrases that are the bane of parents with children, especially small children: “Some Assembly Required “Batteries Not Included” and “Are we there yet?”. 

The first two are usually associated with Christmas and affect the “elves” as presents are being put together, and no stores are open on Christmas Eve evening to purchase the batteries needed so Johnny and Sally can play with and break their new toys 20 minutes after they rip open the packages. At least they have the boxes to play in. 

But the last phrase is my personal favorite, NOT. 

“Are we there yet?” 

Regardless of how long or how short the car trip may be, the children invariably ask this question. The Winslows have taken several car trips over the years, and like most families, some of the stories are very entertaining. 

First of all, we have a track record of whenever we go on a road trip, it ALWAYS rains. A few years ago, my wife and I went down to Gatlinburg, and of course it rained for the first 3 hours of the trip. My wife gets mad if I use the Cruise Control in the rain, worrying that it will only cause more problems if a situation occurs. 

 Another time, my wife, daughter, and son-in-law were traveling over to Indianapolis for a race at the Speedway, and it rained the entire morning.  

Still a third time happened when my wife and I were returning from a family reunion in Illinois. We were in Indianapolis, and my daughter got lost near Newark, Ohio and it was dark and rainy and she was scared. We had to fight a monsoon to get back to central Ohio and locate her and get her back to safety. 

Are we there yet?  

Like most families, we have come up with different car games to help pass the time. One of our favorites is the Alphabet Game. You have to find all the letters of the alphabet, in order, on your side of the car. The toughest letters are always J and Q, although if you find an Antiques Store, it’s usually a gold mine as you can collect Q, R, S, T, & U. Quaker State Oil signs were good for this also. 

Another game is counting cows. The players count the cows on their side of the car, but if you pass a cemetery, you lose all your cows. It doesn’t matter how big the cemetery is, you lose them. It’s even gotten to the point where even if we’re not playing, and we pass a cemetery, we just blurt out, “Stacie, you lost all your cows.” 

Are we there yet?  

One thing about road trips, if you take enough of them, you’ll always go over some bridges along the way. It is well known in my family and circle of friends that I have a great fear of heights, in general, and bridges in particular. I would rather take a tunnel under water than go over a bridge. My fear of bridges began in the aftermath of the Silver Bridge collapse near Gallipolis, Ohio in 1967. For some reason, that really hit close to home for me. I don’t know why. I didn’t know any of the victims. 

Anyway, I was working in Boston, and my daughter, wife and mother-in-law came up for the week to visit me and take a little vacation. One day, we decided to drive out towards Cape Cod. Now if you look at a map of Massachusetts, it’s a rectangle with a fishhook sticking out. At the base of the hook, a canal has been cut through to allow shipping to go from Boston to points South without having to go around the hook. It probably saves several hours, and the canal can accommodate many large ships.

Photo of the Sagamore Bridge. Adapted from "Sagamore Bridge, Sagamore MA" by John Phelan, used under CC BY 3.0.

The Sagamore Bridge. Adapted from "Sagamore Bridge, Sagamore MA" by John Phelan, used under CC BY 3.0.


As we neared the canal, there were signs on the road that stated “Sagamore Bridge – 10 miles”. My thought was that if they are announcing this bridge from 10 miles away, it must be a doozy. As we got closer and closer, the signs were more ominous to me. Finally, at about the 4 mile mark, the bridge came into view. It was big. Refer to the picture with this story. And of course, it had to be high enough to handle the large (and tall) ships going below. 

At this point, I have to skip to another pet peeve of drivers in Massachusetts, the Rotary. As it was once explained to me, the roads in Massachusetts are merely paved over cattle trails, and the engineers have taken the intersections of several of these roads and basically built a 1/8 mile racetrack. You enter the rotary, at your own risk, and compete to get off at the proper off road. Sometimes it can take 2 or 3 laps to accomplish this. I mean there’s a reason they call drivers up there Massholes. 

Anyway back to my story. As we made our final approach to the Sagamore Bridge, I looked at the road before me, and there it was, A ROTARY. I said, "I can’t believe this, I’m saved by a ROTARY!" No such luck, my family wanted me to press on. Sadistic bunch of ingrates, they knew how I felt about bridges. So we got on the bridge. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it was the worst type of bridge for me. It rises in the middle, so you can’t see the other side from where you are. A part of you says, it must be okay, because cars are coming the other way. But in my paranoid mind, I was worried that there might be nothing there when I went over the hump, and would plunge into the depths below. As you can tell, I’m a very rational thinker. 

Needless to say, we made it over the bridge, and we continued our journey out towards the end of the hook. But all the time we were in that part of the state, all I could think about was, “I’ve still got to cross that damn bridge on the way back.” 

 Are we there yet. 

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