On the Road to Zion (Going to Hell in a Bucket).

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We are officially on the road. Ninety minutes into a 10-hour drive to Zion National Park. Technically, through Zion National Park, since the place we rented is on the other side. We’ll pull into the rental pad at about midnight, I reckon. Hilary has taken the first shift, leaving my hands free to DJ and blog. So during my shift in the passenger seat round about Madera, California, a few observations —

Observation Number One: It is very difficult to select songs from the Spotify iPhone app that will please all four of us. Mommy is belting out “Rocketman” pretty much in tune, the boys sit in the back seat looking every bit as though they are getting a tooth filled.

Observation Number Two: Happy Wife, Happy Drive. Feed her a steady diet of “Benny and the Jets,” “Piano Man,” and anything by Tears for Fears. These are direct deposits into the bank of marital goodwill. I will intentionally or otherwise be drawing down from the bank later in the trip, I’m sure of it.

Observation Number Three: Sonic is a salt lick. Much as I love that Giorgio loves Sonic, this place is to be avoided. Save yourself the $34, and achieve the same dietary benefits by pulling over at one of the many farms along Route 99, and sidle up to the Heifers’ salt lick. I ate 12 tater tots 10 minutes ago, and I’m so sodium-bloated that I can’t make a fist. Also, Sonic’s printed collateral bears a claim of over 1 million potential drink combinations. This boast made my head hurt, I tried too hard to argue successfully that the claim is not mathematically possible. It just can’t be, but I have to save my energy for my upcoming shift behind the wheel.

Observation Number Four: “Don’t You Want Me, Baby?” is a surprisingly appealing ditty across generations. The lyrics might be a downer for adults who recognize a toxic relationship when they see it (or hear a song about it), but the chorus is still catchy. Eight year-olds and 12 year-olds will repeat the chorus long after the song is over, in an operatic voice no less, until interrupted by hiccup/burp combinations brought on by the Sonic Salt Lick.

Observation Number Five: The over-sized, flavored limeades are to be avoided. My kids’ sugar levels are spiking off the charts at this moment. My wife is keeping it together, reminding the boys about the importance of “respecting each other.” I’m so wound up from my own over-sized Cherry Coke that I am this close to crawling into the backseat at 80 MPH and just ending both of them. Net net, back away from the styrofoamed sugar bomb drinks. Not a single one of those one million flavors will produce good outcomes.

Observation Number Six: We are punching our own personal hole in the Ozone. All of that diligent recycling and composting at home? Perpetual use of stainless steel or BPA-free drinking bottles? Salvaging of escaped ice cubes by popping them into a houseplant pot? All shot to shit, completely undone by all the otherwise recyclable or compostable stuff we will throw out in gas station cans and McDonald’s rest rooms. The locals are getting a good laugh at our expense, as we step out from our eco-friendly Prius, wearing our eco-friendly Patagonia gear, with armfuls of landfill-bound bags, cups and napkins spilling all over the pavement. My “Landfill Guilt” is palpable. We are going to have to buy a shitload of carbon offset credits when we get back home, or maybe orchestrate a neighborhood tire drive or newspaper drive. Then again, our environmental sins committed between now and then may set off such a horrific karmic backlash, we might as well just throw everything out the window as we speed south east (toward a National Park, no less).

Going to hell in a bucket; but at least we’ll enjoy the ride. Which gives me an idea about the next song this DJ will force feed on my road weary family.

Thanks for reading.

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