Darlene, the Yorkie Claire and I arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, four days ago after 2,000 miles and six days on the road in Henry, our 2012 Ford Focus. En route, I stopped by Ford World Headquarters at 1 American Road in Dearborn, Michigan, to have coffee with my friend Scott Monty, who is Ford’s head of social media and a devotee of Sherlock Holmes, who is of course smack dab back in the middle of the zeitgeist with his new BBC series.
The real mystery, though, is how two married people can travel in a modest-sized car for six days and arrive still married. There is so much that can go wrong.
One person might like to linger at the Quality Inn each morning to write in his journal, work out on the cross trainer, and check blogs and emails. The other might want to walk the dog and get on the road–now! Or, one person might like to listen to a long, winding, romantic novel on Audible. The other might prefer mind-numbingly technical podcasts about Evernote or ebook formatting.
I won’t say that Darlene and I solved the mystery. But we are still married, and I want to jot down a list of steps to remember for our next trip. I will pretend that we actually followed these steps, but some are entirely fictional, based on 20-20 hindsight.
12 Steps to Arrive Married After a 2,000-Mile Drive
1. Make plans, but be flexible. It helps to plan your trip with lodging reservations along the way, but you can cancel and revise them if a better idea occurs to you.
2. Take a break from technology. Don’t check e-mail every five miles just because you can. If you are the passenger, enjoy the scenery now and then. Don’t use up your entire laptop battery connected to the Internet via your iPhone’s Hot Spot.
3. Resolve disagreements and clear the air using a simple dialoging technique that you learned at the Harville Hendrix workshop 10 years ago. Before leaving, reread his classic Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples.
4. Don’t eat junk. Bring a cooler that you can plug into the outlet formerly known as a cigarette lighter. Load the cooler with items purchased at grocery stores, so you can stop at rest areas for decent, affordable meals under the trees.
5. Before the trip, save up money in your Travel Fund. On the drive, write down everything you spend and transfer the total from the Travel Fund to checking when you get to your destination.
6. Bring a Monster Travel Power Strip, so you can charge your iPhones, Kindles, iPads, and laptop each night at the hotel. Also: thick rubber bands to keep all the power cables tidy.
7. Don’t drive more than 400 miles a day. Drive the speed limit.
8. Get off the Interstate System for at least one day of two-lane roads and a pleasant place you’ve never seen before, like Mansfield, Ohio.
9. Schedule in-person visits with interesting people you’ve only known on the Net. Enjoy how they are just what you expected, only more so. (For example, Jim Jones, Doug Lance, and Mark Pierce.)
10. If you have a Ford with Microsoft SYNC and SYNC Services, find the next day’s destination each night in Google Maps, right-click on it, then click on More, then “Send”, then click on “car.” The next morning, press the voice activation button in your car and say “Services.” When connected, you will be informed that Google Maps has sent a destination and do you want to download it. Say “yes” and wait for the destination to appear on the navigation screen. How cool is that?
11. Switch drivers every 100 miles.
12. Enjoy the ride. The destination will take care of itself.
I will make a note on iCal for late September, when we will drive back to Denver, to take another look at these 12 steps. If you have your own, please feel free to add them in comments!