My Sassy Saint was set to compete in an academic competition down Clarksburg way. She asked if a couple of her teammates could ride down with us. No problem; whether I was driving one or 10 down, I still had to get up at the crack of dawn, which I hate.
Sign-in started at 8:30 a.m. Because I am paranoid - and rightfully so, because my ability to get lost is so legendary, I once tried to drive to Wintersville and ended up just south of Cleveland - I planned to give myself an extra half-hour. Just in case.
We left at 5:15 a.m. No amount of coffee in the world would make that OK. I have pretty much built my life around not getting up before 6 a.m. If there is something I am known for, other than getting epically lost, it is my hatred of early mornings.
But Sass made a commitment. And I committed to drive her. So I got up early.
I was nervous. I didn't have the Little Professor riding shotgun and navigating - he was in Morgantown, checking out the Boy Scout camp there. His trip was uneventful, although his Scout leader brought back pictures of random stands of trees, claiming they were campsites.
A campsite should have a water spigot, fire pit and picnic table at the very minimum. Electrical hook-ups are preferred.
I figured I'd let Sass' teammate, the Salutatorian, navigate, mostly because he has sprouted up and become too gangly to stuff in the backseat.
We managed to reach the high school where the competition was held - 40 minutes early. It gave the children a chance to stretch their legs. A lot.
We nearly accidentally got sent to detention, before we realized that "D-hall" wasn't the room the competition was being held in, but detention hall. They shouldn't try to make it sound appealing.
During the competition, I just about gnawed all the skin off my knuckles. Of the 10 rounds and 600 questions I sat through, I could have answered maybe three questions, and only because I wrote articles about the subjects.
They did well, so they'll be going to Charleston and I'll be getting up even earlier. It was a successful trip, and they were tired. They wanted to go home. They had left around 5 a.m., and it was going on 4 p.m.
My only excuse was I was tired, too. I took Interstate 79 and after about half an hour, I saw a sign - 80 miles to Charleston. The only problem? Clarksburg is 100 miles north of Charleston. Oops.
I started looking for an exit. Only, there wasn't one. Not for another 10 miles. In the backseat, Sass was clueless. Thankfully, we had little Magellen to guide us. Another one of Sass' teammates, she was quiet, but when we were lost, she sprang into action. We found an exit and pulled off for gas and food.
At the fast-food place, I ordered some more coffee. I obviously needed it. The cashier forgot to give me a cup, so I snagged one myself.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "I meant to give you one."
"Don't worry about it. Everyone makes mistakes."
Some are just bigger than others.
(Wallace-Minger, a resident of Weirton, is community editor of The Weirton Daily Times.)