Mr. Wonderful and I sat at the FlipFlop Bar in the Panama City Beach Sheraton Bay Point Resort last Friday, hunched over a billboard-sized Rand McNally paper map of the eastern United States. We were studying the thick blue line he’d drawn with a magic marker that ran from Palm City, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee, with a side-excursion to the Florida Panhandle.

“Look at your two!,” the blonde waitress said as she placed my Famous Grouse and his Tanqueray on the bar. “My grandparents use maps when they travel too. I think you’re the only other folks I’ve ever seen using a map.” I’m still not sure her words were a compliment.

W. and I love a road trip. We think nothing of loading the Honda van with our golf clubs, plus four of his 39 putters (“just in case one doesn’t work”), along with several bags of knitting projects (“just in case I finish that  sweater and want to start on some hats”). Oh, and our traveling bar, several duffle bags filled with iPads and pill boxes, shoes and sneakers, my writing portfolio and his portable art kit.


We place a clothing rack across the van’s middle section so there’s no ironing necessary for Val when we arrive at our destination … unless the rack falls off the hook, plunging a one-week wardrobe to the floor, which happens occasionally.

As we drive along we dip into a large bag of M&Ms and several bottles of water. That sates us until we see the first Dunkin’ Donuts sign which, I swear, is more powerful than a neodymium magnet. The van CANNOT simply drive past it. Two coffees and two jellies later, we’re back on the road.


We are blissfully happy driving along the big highways, alternately listening to the Bridge, Bluegrass and Fox/MSNBC (a tussle!) on XM. But when Siri announces, “In two miles, turn right onto County Road 405 towards Niceville,” things change.

Mr. Wonderful’s fingers clench the wheel. Tightly. We’re talking white knuckles, death grip. “What did she say?” he asks.


Within minutes, he asks, “Should we be in the left lane?”

“Right,” I say. And he immediately turns into the right lane. 

“No, stay in the left lane!,” I holler. “BUT YOU SAID…” he hollers back.


The happiest couple in the world become the Bickersons, the Roses, Liz & Dick, George and Martha, Kenickie and Rizzo. “You said….!” “No, I didn’t.”

Like all tempests in a teapot, it’s over in a heartbeat. We reach our destination, all is happy in our world, smiles abound. 

And then the next morning we get back in the van and head out the resort driveway. Siri says, “In one mile, take a left onto Route 10 towards Pensacola.” 

Fingers clench. White knuckles.  Where’s a Dunkin’ Donut when I need one?