Some folks look back on the past as the halcyon days of their lives. Others hope the future will improve life. The less introspective among us tend to live in the present. They complain a great deal, and muddle along.

During the holidays, people travel great distances to visit friends and family. Although many fly, it is safe to assume even a greater number travel by motorized vehicles. Whichever mode of transportation you use, you can be almost certain to arrive at your destination within a few hours of your departure from home.

Such stated arrival times are mere guesses and exclude the various possible travel delays.  As you know or may have experienced, there are countless reasons for delays. And depending on the length of such delays, the annoyance factor increases exponentially based on the setback in your arrival timetable.

Regardless of your mode of transportation, any unexpected event can throw the proverbial monkey wrench into the best-laid plans of any traveler. Weather, road conditions, and accidents can mar a trip meant to be one of anticipation and joy. How you respond can make such moments memorable or miserable, depending on the personal behavior of those involved.

For example, a return flight from Jamaica turned into a memorable experience but not in a good way. The airline personnel went on strike, and our plane was grounded. We waited hours for another plane to arrive from Kingston to Montego Bay. At one point, this snarky writer asked airline staff “Do you just own two airplanes?” They did not appreciate the question or bother to reply.

Meanwhile, the waiting passengers consumed all the food and slurped all the alcohol at the airport. A portent of things to come. Our flight scheduled for an early morning departure finally took off around 8 p.m. Then the well-oiled passengers demanded more alcohol on the plane without using good manners, and in their loudest outdoor voices. A memorable trip to be sure.

Years ago, Hubby and I spent New Year’s Eve on a dark stretch of highway. A thick coat of ice covered the road, but we were not alone. Cars, trucks and their occupants were in the same ice boat with us. We spent hours creeping along like dutiful and lost sheep led by the unofficial Shepherd that just happened to be the vehicle first in line. At times it was tense, but on the whole, it was a festive and weird kind of fun we shared with those around us. Of course, we arrived late at our destination, but the experience was magical.

Since our families lived in Oklahoma, about 1 hour and 58 minutes by car. We often made the trek to visit either his family or mine. Quite often on our return trips, we wondered how long such trips would take back in the days when the primary mode of transportation was a horse, a carriage, a wagon, or perhaps a stagecoach.

If a family lived in Ardmore, Oklahoma and wanted to visit relatives in Dallas, Texas (a distance of 112.7 miles), traveling by buckboard at a rate of 25 miles per day (maybe), you would arrive in Dallas in about 4½ or 5 days or longer. Weather, terrain, and frequent rest stops for the children also factored into the daily travel time. Since motels with soft beds and showers did not exist back then, the family slept on the side of the road, on the ground and in the wagon. By the end of the trip, the aroma wafting off the travelers was mighty ripe.

A four-horse stagecoach could easily cover 25 miles per day. On horseback, the trip would be faster. If you pushed the poor creature, the horse could manage 200 miles in about a 24-hour period. But the horse would more than likely die.

Since a trip to Dallas moved at a snail’s pace compared to our modern travel times, it explains the reason people back then stretched their visits into weeks or months. That is longer than today’s few hours or a day. Talk about overstaying one’s welcome!

Perhaps that is the reason Benjamin Franklin remarked: “Guests, like fish, begin to stink after three days.”


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