MeLinda POV: you’re going the wrong way

One of many dirt roads we drove the X3 down within Big Bend National Park.

First of all, thank you to Lee for writing the first guest post here at Next Door To Normal. I didn’t ask him to write it. In fact, we hadn’t talked about this mishap on our road trip until he asked me to read a draft of his post.

I was saving that conversation for the next therapy session :-o

It was interesting to know what was going through his mind and so I decided to share my point of view during this same portion of our 2,500-mile road trip from Kansas to Mexico and back.

Lee is the driver on trips and I am the navigator. We settled into these roles many years ago. It probably happened the first time Lee started driving south from Wichita when we were embarking on a drive to Denver. {get the map out people}

Or for any of you who have driven with me, you likely understand why he’d prefer to be behind the wheel!

I wrote a post not long ago about the No. 1 thing Lee and I argue about (hint: it’s sports-related). A very close second is directions/driving.

There’s really never much of an argument, actually. It’s just me getting pissy because he is relying completely on me and that stresses me out when we are in, say, rush hour traffic in Los Angeles. I’m usually not familiar with these places either and I need him to help US out and think a little!

As he stated in his post, he seems to turn off his brain and aimlessly drive. This is a recurring issue that I’ve mentioned bitched to him repeatedly and he never says anything in response. I think that part frustrates me the most.

And let’s just get everything out on the table, why don’t we. When the tables are turned – when he is tired and wants me to drive – he does not assume the role of navigator. I do my own navigation or if that gets too hectic, I have to ask him to navigate. Last year, friends in the backseat offered to help out when Lee didn’t get my hints that I could use his help.

Now who’s the one who likes to just sit in the Beemer and look pretty!?! {exactly}


This trip involved a lot of driving in a short amount of time. Not only did we have the 14 hours to get there and another 14 hours to get back home, we drove constantly throughout our stay at Big Bend National Park (like everything in Texas, it’s a BIG park). Lee was sick with what started as a cold and moved to a sinus infection (yes, I offered to drive REPEATEDLY). We were pretty tired before we even started to head home.

So there we sat at Guzzi Pizza in Marathon, Texas. We had decided to hike one last trail that morning before starting our two-day trek home. As we waited on the pizza, I pulled up the map on my iPhone and showed Lee where we were and where we were going. Internet access was spotty this far south in Texas so while we had it at the restaurant, I wanted to make sure we both knew how we were going home.

The route: back up to Fort Stockton, then from there back up to I-20. That’s when we’d head east. He nodded.

It was straightforward. So straightforward that when we got back into the X3 I immediately put headphones on to listen to a podcast of a webinar on networking and alternated taking notes with flipping through a magazine.

About 50 miles later, I casually look up from the magazine and see a US-90E sign. EAST? We aren’t supposed to be going east until we get up to I-20. I grab my iPhone hoping there’s a connection and I see the little dot on the map bouncing parallel with the Mexico border.

That part where Lee says we calmly talked? There was no calm. I overreacted.

We had just basically undone the driving out of the park we’d done before lunch!! I showed him the map!! It was clear-cut!! Why would it make any sense for us to go east right away?? He’s such a smart guy, I don’t get why he doesn’t have common sense in driving situations. I may have said all of that out loud. In the vehicle. In my outdoor voice.

“Don’t take that tone with me,” he quipped.

I glared back and said matter-of-factly, “Fine, you figure out how to get us out of here without running out of gas.”

Lee pulled off to the side of the road and got his phone out to see if we needed to backtrack or if we could go another route. I offered up a paper map we had. He picked going forward, which made sense to me too.

We were just about two miles from the junction of 90 & 285, which is the road we would take to head north. As we drove through this area – Sanderson, Texas – I could see a few buildings but it didn’t really look like a place to stop.

“Should we drive in a little further to see if there’s a gas station before heading north for Fort Stockton?” I asked.

“No, we’ll make it.”

“Are you sure?”


That was the last thing either of us said for about 63 miles.

I put headphones on and blasted some music while looking out the passenger side window. I couldn’t think of anything nice to say and I was furious that he was mad that I was mad.

This was one of the most stressful hours ever. I alternated praying with thinking of ways to tell him how pissed I was at the “don’t take that tone with me” comment.

I could see that the fuel light was on for most of those last 64 miles. I scanned the roadside hoping to see a house, a business … a HUMAN BEING. I saw nothing from the road except for a utility station with an unoccupied truck parked near the gate.

I was looking for a place to walk back to that might actually have a human being, just in case we ran out of gas. The other options were walking forward to Fort Stockton or I noticed a few semi-trucks on the road and thought maybe one would pick us up and I’d live to tell about it.

Finally, I could see civilization. I thought to myself, how much would it suck if we ran out of gas inside the city limits before we could get to the gas station? Well, it would suck less than running out where we just came from!

I started scouring the landscape for signs of a gas station. From quite a distance I could see the beautiful yellow with red pinstripe awning of a Shell station. I love branding.

As Lee pumped gas, I went in to use the restroom. I really wanted to know how close we’d been to running out but I wasn’t about to ask him and he didn’t offer the information.

I came out and offered to drive. He said no, and we got back in the X3. He asked which highway he needed to take out of Fort Stockton and I told him, then pointed to the turn.

I didn’t read for the remainder of the trip or work on my laptop during the drive as I’d planned. I just watched the road and listened to music through headphones while Lee listened to sports talk radio.

If you haven’t already, jump over and read this story from Lee’s point of view!

This entry was posted in Lee, travel, Weird shit that happens.


  1. Streepk March 13, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Different location, similar story. We sooooooooooooooo resonate with your repeated experiences. The first notice I had of my role of navigator was on the 3 week driving honeymoon after I informed him of the turn too late, in his perspective of course. Thank you both for sharing!! Great to hear both perspectives!

    • Melinda March 13, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, Kathy!! Maybe you should’ve done that 3-week drive BEFORE the wedding … just to make sure ;-)

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