Taking my 70-year-old-plus in-laws on a 1,800-mile, seven-day road trip had potential relationship calamity written all over it.
My in-laws’ vacation history includes sit-down meals just 15 minutes into the start of a long day’s drive, genealogy-inspired gravestone stenciling and anguished moans at missed shopping opportunities — none of which I find comprehensible.
I wondered how three decades of strong in-law relationships would survive an excess of 50s music and Cracker Barrel consumption, particularly after my father-in-law let me know he had mapped every possible stop at those “Old Country Store” restaurants on our route.
Once the trip was gifted at Christmas, there was no turning back. We would travel from Chicago’s suburbs to Washington, D.C. to New York City and back home in seven days.
The reward for me was time with my wife, who recently relocated for work to Long Island City, New York. For my in-laws, it was play time with the D.C. grandsons, drinks and dinner with three of their four children, the 9/11 Memorial, a couple of shows (Jim Parsons’ play was a particular treat to diehard Big Bang Theory fan-in-laws) and a two-hour side trip to photograph a Brooklyn apartment complex my grandfather-in-law lived in during the 1930 census.
Somehow, it worked. While we didn’t discuss rules before departing, several elements contributed to the trip’s success: Continue reading