Driving to Florida challenging even with air conditioning

The best part of driving down to Florida is the arrival. Of course, when you’re younger, the drive isn’t as demanding. Unless you have a lousy car. That doesn’t have air conditioning. In August.

Nowadays, flying is certainly the way to go. But you lose mobility unless you rent a car and by then you’ll need a second mortgage for the trip. Long drives never really bothered me. But I haven’t been in a cross-country trip for years. And these days, I can’t even sleep through the night without taking two trips to the bathroom, so I’m not really looking forward to being in vehicle 10 to 12 hours.

But it certainly can’t be worse than the drive we took years ago. Our car at the time was my mother’s hand-me-down — a bare-bones Cavalier with roll-down windows that came with no radio and no air. I’m surprised the tires weren’t considered an option.

But it had a small engine and was great on gas, so comfort was secondary. It was so hot, our oldest son wouldn’t even ride with us. He traveled in class in my sister’s gigantic van that had air conditioning, endless snacks and video games. I’m surprised he didn’t petition the courts for formal adoption.

What to do with the youngest boy was a hot-topic issue that is debated to this very day. Sure, taking a 2-year-old to Disney would put a smile on his face and make cute pictures. But would he even remember it the next day? At his age, he didn’t need a big, long trip especially since he was satisfied playing for hours inside an appliance cardboard box.

On the other hand, as young parents, we were never separated more than overnight. So it was a big decision. And in the end, we decided he’d be better off with his grandparents at their comfortable northern Michigan lake cottage than sitting in the back seat of a hot Cavalier for hours at a time.

So we abandoned our child. And handed the other one off to relatives. It was just me and my old lady in a hot tin can heading toward the sun and sand. Kinda sounds like a country song.

Looking back, the biggest trauma was the separation of the family because when you’re young, taking long trips in less than ideal conditions was simply a part of life. I don’t know how many times I headed up north to the cabin in a vehicle I wouldn’t trust driving around the block.

But as we got older, the challenges changed. The vehicle is no longer an issue; it’s roomy and has plenty of nice options. Now the question is what happens at nap time? I get a little drowsy at the same time every afternoon. And obviously cocktail hour is eliminated for that day, so there’s another inconvenience.

I’m sure we’ll pass time comparing gas prices and howling at those ahead of us to get out of the left lane. That should keep us busy, say, through Ohio. But then what? I suppose we could once again discuss the trauma of leaving the youngest behind. Of course we won’t get his perspective. He’s not coming with us on this trip, either.

Ray Kisonas is the regional editor of The Monroe News and the Daily Telegram. He can be reached at rayk@monroenews.com.