Road Trip

Road Trip

By Lillian Norma

road trip


My boyfriend cast me a sideways glance as he asked, “You’re not using the guide book again, are you?”

“Of course, I am. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because, by now, you should realize the book is wrong.”

“Wrong? How could the book be wrong?”   

“The maps are printed backwards. It’s like looking at a negative.”

“Well, they don’t look like negatives to me,” I snapped.

“Then kindly explain to me why we get lost every day. Every day.”

“Look,” he implored, “take your eyes off the damn book for a minute and look out the window. The river is on my side of the road. In the book, it’s on your side of the road. The book is wrong.”

White knuckles gripped the steering wheel as he reiterated, almost shouting now, “The. Book. Is. Wrong.

Shaking his head and heaving a deep sigh, he muttered under his breath, “How many times do I have to say it?”

“No,” I insisted, my voice rising to match his, ”you’re looking at it all wrong. It’s a published book. A published book. Don’t you think the editor would have noticed if the maps were backwards before it was sent for printing?! Jeez.” 

Tired of arguing, I slammed the much dogged-eared book shut, rolled up the window and reclined my seat in split second speed. One last jab, though, before I closed my eyes. “Oh, shut up, okay? Just shut up.”

Stony silence enveloped us like an early morning fog bank as I squirmed to find a comfortable position. My mind flashed back to how the day had begun in Springfield and I wondered how we had come to this stalemate.

The cerulean sky showed no remnants of last night’s thunderstorm and by mid-morning the temperature had climbed to the mid 80s. We had decided not to use the A/C but to roll down the windows instead. Like a couple of giggly teenagers, we stuck our hands out and rode the air waves. Formally called Main Street of America, and no longer useful for the big rigs on a rigid deadline, most of the time ours was the only vehicle in sight for miles. Just the way we liked it. But now here we were at each other’s throats arguing over a damn guidebook. I couldn’t discern which was worse, the anger simmering inside my head or the heat inside the car!

Luckily, our first stop of the day, The Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, was only a few miles up the road. The clicking indicator signal jolted me out of my reverie. I reached for the book on the dashboard but he grabbed it first and exited the car.

“Maybe, after a coffee and a treat,” he said through a forced smile, “I can point out all the discrepancies between the book and reality.”

My sour mood matched the searing heat rising from the walkway leading up to the restaurant. I shook my head in consternation. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”  

Once inside, the proprietor welcomed us with an outstretched hand, “Come in out of the heat,” he greeted us.  Finally, a friendly voice, I thought.

As we reached the counter, he noticed the book. He reached out, took it out of my boyfriend’s hand, and with a flick of his wrist, threw it along the counter like a frisbee.

“I bet that book has caused many a marital argument. The maps are printed backwards.”


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