Cheap Seats

Jupiter Journal, March 12, 6:30 A.M

I keep telling myself the warm sun, the baseball and the beach will be worth it. But right now I just want to stay in bed.

It's an 1135-mile drive to Jupiter. And if that wasn't enough of a challenge on its own, I get to make the drive with a three-year-old boy. I won't be surprised, even if traffic is light and there are no incidents if we spend 20 hours on the road out of the next 36.

The goal for today is to make it to southern Georgia. I've learned from the last three years that driving straight through with the little guy in the car isn't an option. So we've made a reservation to get him into a nice, comfy bed for the night and then we'll finish off the drive in the morning.

Last year I bought an iPad which I planned to use for blogging purposes at the ballpark. But I never even considered what has become its most valuable use: toddler pacifier. It's loaded up with movies, Disney Channel TV shows and games that entertain my son for hours. I have never even once heard the dreaded "dad, are we there yet?" whine. The hardest part is keeping the iPad away from him until we get in the car. If you travel with little ones, I highly recommend it. My iPod has made the portable dvd player obsolete.

One thing I've learned about this drive is to always make a reservation at a hotel. The last thing you want to do is get worn out and not be able to find a place to get off the road. Daytona hosts its Bike Week motorcycle festival in the second week of March. That means we'd be fighting with bikers headed north for hotel beds if we didn't already have one reserved. Several years ago I learned this lesson the hard way, pulling off at one exit ramp after another in southern Georgia only to be told repeatedly that there was no room at the inn.

I ended up driving in drenching thunderstorm all night long, finally pulling off the road in desperation at a rest area for a cat nap as the sun came up. That wasn't my idea of a good time.