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Riverside ramblings

11/22/2010 @ 10:04am

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” -- Mark Twain

My wife and I recently completed a week-long journey that took us across the Three I’s: Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. We also went through a bit of Missouri and flirted with the idea of a quick jog into Nebraska, but decided that this would be more excitement than we could bear.

We have become furious vacationers since exiting dairy farming some years ago. We take our vacations seriously, packing in as much as possible into the allotted time.

Spending an uninterrupted week with someone can strain even the best of relationships. Tiny flaws that otherwise go unnoticed can be magnified into glaring defects. Conflicts arise; harsh words are muttered.

None of this has happened during our voyages, a testament to the solid relationship my wife and I have forged in the crucible of 30 years of marriage. What I’m trying to say is: we haven’t killed each other by now, so spending a week together is a snap.

My main goal when traveling is to make as many miles as possible. A crucial component of achieving this goal is my patented Fluid Management System. The core tenet of this System involves avoiding fluid intake when traveling and even when anticipating future travel.

My wife, however, has a drinking habit that involves Diet Coke. She continued to consume Diet Coke as we drove along, despite my broad hints that doing so flouted the principles of my Fluid Management System.

Using my Fluid Management System, it logically follows that liquid output will be reduced. This decreases the number of stops needed for bathroom breaks, which equals more miles per day. This would probably also work for solids.

“So if it were up to you,” said my wife after I explained my System, “We would be on vacation, but could die of thirst or starvation!”

“Well, yes. But we would make incredibly good time!”

The downside of ignoring my System is the need for frequent stops at service stations. Such stops are actually necessary when the car is low on fuel, so I try to calculate the ratio between the emptiness of the fuel tank and the fullness of the bladder. It gets rather complicated when one factors in gasoline prices.

Service stations that tend to have low gas prices also tend to have low standards for their bathrooms. This matters not a whit to me, but is a major consideration for my wife. In fact, she judges a service station based solely on the cleanliness of its bathroom -- with no regard for the price differential between Regular and Premium!

In the end, we compromised. Specifically, my wife compromised by totally ignoring my System and I compromised by being OK with that.

One day as we motored meanderingly along the Mississippi, it occurred to both of us that we could use a cup of coffee. We randomly pulled over at a small town coffee shop, planning to get some hot joe to go.

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