This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Sprint
It’s that time of year. Thousands and thousands of people will soon embark upon cross-country car treks, international flights, and long-distance train rides be home for the holidays. Thankfully, my husband and I live near all of our family and don’t have to travel this year. Yet when I was growing up, traveling in November and December was commonplace. BlogHer and Sprint teamed up to bring together some of the craziest, most eventful, most unforgettable holiday road trip stories ever. There was no doubt what I would write about. Though I was just 10 years old, the memory of one particular trip is crystal clear.
My dad served in the U.S. Army for a large span of my childhood. One of our stations was at Fort Polk, Louisiana, nearly 900 miles from South Carolina, the state both of my parents call home. During the three years of our being stationed at Polk, we made several trips back and forth between there and my grandparents’ house in S.C.
Only one of the 14-hour trips was taken by plane. Our usual mode of transportation was our minivan. Dad and Mom would wake up my sister and me in the early morning hours to begin our trek home. We would usually make it in time to sit down to supper with our relatives, late that same day.
Traveling back to our house in Louisiana was another story. To spend as much time with family as we could, we’d leave mid-morning, after breakfast sometime, meaning we had a seemingly longer trip ahead. Many times we’d stop halfway at a hotel to rest for the night, starting fresh again the next morning.
On a particular trip home after a holiday visit, however, Dad decided to drive on through. That was fine with my sister and me. We just got cozy and crashed in the backseat (me lying down in the floorboard, since child restraint laws certainly weren’t what they are today). We thought it was a great adventure! (And little did we know, it certainly would be.)
Dad was driving, music low enough for the rest of us to sleep. Mom was beside him, leaning back in the passenger seat, asleep. I was dozing in the floorboard….and my sister was above me in her car seat, sleeping soundly.
Now I must let you in on a little detail. I had a tiny little traveling companion on this particular trip. Somehow….somehow….I’d coaxed my parents to let me bring my pet Betta fish with me. Little shimmery-blue-scaled Skittles floated along with us in his octagon-shaped fishbowl. I held on tight to him for most of the car trip, but while I was resting, I’d propped his bowl against some blankets and coats, buffering him with objects to keep him upright.
Now that the scene is set, let’s commence to the chaos. About 1:30am, a loud “KA-THUNK/BANG!” shook our minivan, somewhere between Meridian and Jackson, Mississippi (in other words, in the absolute middle of nowhere). Before the sound even ended, Mom was screaming. Dad was stunned, but at the same time, harried and panicked. “I think we hit a deer. WE HIT A DEER!” he yelled. Mom clapped her hands over her mouth. She might have been crying. The van kept rolling, but Dad was slowing it down to prepare for a median stop. I was a bit dazed and confused, still not quite clear on what had just happened. I could hear our van scraping the interstate pavement as we slowed.
I glanced down beside me, peering carefully to see with only the interior car lighting shining down. His bowl. It was overturned. And Skittles. Was gone.
“WHERE’S THE FISH!?!?” I yelled frantically. I cannot even begin to describe what the next few seconds looked (and sounded) like. Dad struggled to completely pull us over and stop, all the while looking around hysterically for a lost blue fish. He put the car in park and pulled up his feet. “Here he is!” he yelled, seeing a shimmery blue fish flip-flopping all over the driver’s side floorboard. GET HIM! Oh, NO! He can’t breathe! Skittles! The yelling and the crying, it just kept on going, probably making Dad’s job a whole lot more difficult as he flung his fists around trying to grasp this wet, wriggly, freaking-out fish at his feet. “I pulled part of his fin off!” came Dad’s voice from the front. Skittles’ chance at a longer life was looking kind of grim.
Though it seemed like forever, Dad finally yelled, “I’ve got him! I’ve got him.” He handed back a convulsing blue Skittles and I held out the octagon bowl. Most had spilled out; all that remained in the bottom was about a tablespoon of water, which I had to pool by tilting it to one side.
Crying, I clutched the fishbowl to me, holding it just so, so Skittles could breathe the little bit of water left in there for him to occupy. Our hazard lights were on, and Dad got out to survey the damage. The deer had hit the front headlight on the passenger’s side, then swung around the crushed the passenger door. No broken glass, but we did have a very dented van and a front fender that was dragging the ground.
A man in a pick-up truck pulled up behind us and got out to ask if we needed help. Dad said no thanks — that we were just going to drive slowly to the next town and get a hotel and a body shop — and the guy tipped his hat at us. “Well, then, do you mind if I go back and get the deer for the meat?”
(Ahhh, good ole’ Mississippi.)
I can tell you that this story does have a happy ending. The van did make it to the next town, and we slept well that night. (Including my little sister, who slept through the entire episode. She never woke up…not for any of it.)
The car was totally re-done, and a month later you couldn’t tell anything had happened. We never did drive through the night again from SC to LA.
And Skittles did live. He got a refill in the motel bathroom and lived to be a couple of years older. But you know what? His fin never did grow back, and we’re convinced that’s why he swam noticeably lop-sided for the remainder of his days. Bless his little heart.
Courtesy of Sprint and BlogHer, one of you will win a $200 Visa gift card!
To enter, leave me a comment below and tell me a short blurb about your most crazy/hilarious/eventful holiday road trip! (OR you may leave a link to an entire holiday road trip post/story on your own blog in the comments below.) The contest will begin on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 9:00am PST and will end on Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 5:00pm PST. Make sure that the e-mail address you leave is correct.
* No duplicate comments.
* You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.
* You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.
* This giveaway is open to US residents aged 18 and older
* Winners will be selected via random draw, and will notified by e-mail.
* You have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
* Please see the official rules here.
Don’t forget to head to BlogHer’s Special Offers page and check out the other holiday road trip stories! All in all, you have NINE chances to win the Visa gift card!
CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED — Thanks for participating!
The lucky winner of the $200 Visa gift card is #192, Tina Reynolds! Congratulations, Tina! I’ll be sending you an email soon. Thanks, everyone, for joining in on the fun!