Five hours and six stops later, the SUV pulls into a motel parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Vinnie’s dad walks out of the lobby toward the SUV, beaming, holding two room pass keys in his hand and a map showing the room’s location.
Vinnie’s dad opens the driver’s side door and slides into his seat. “They take dogs and grizzly bears.” Vinnie’s dad thinks he made a cool joke.
Vinnie’s mom disagrees. She says, “Are you sure you couldn’t get closer to the airport? Oh my God, the plane is going to land on us.”
Vinnie hollers, “Wow. Was that cool. I could see the wheels. I could read everything on the plane. I could see the pilot’s face. I changed my mind, I don’t want to be a cowboy, I want to be pilot. Rupert can be my copilot. And, Dexter can bark and warn me if planes get too close. Here comes another one. I think it’s a military jet.”
“My ear drums. I think they’re perforated,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s dad attempts a good spin, “The desk clerk said not to worry about the planes, they stop landing at midnight and don’t start again until five in the morning.”
“You’re kidding, right?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie interrupts, “Why don’t the fly all night, Dad? This is the best part of the trip so far. I can smell the jet fuel.”
Vinnie’s dad reaches into his pants pocket. “Here’s some good news and it shows we’re staying at a classy place. They gave us three sets of earplugs.”
“What is your definition of classy, Dear? The first thing I’m checking for is bed bugs. The second thing I’m checking is to see if the sheets are clean. The third thing I’m checking is to see if there are locks on the windows,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“You forgot the fourth and fifth things, Mom,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom turns toward Vinnie, “What are the fourth and fifth things, Vinnie?”
“You need to check to see if the cable TV is working and if you can get delivery pizza,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom puts her right hand on her forehead and gently rubs it. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. When she opens her eyes, she says, “Where did we take a wrong turn?”
Vinnie’s dad unsure of what response he’s to make, says, “Do you want me to answer or is this a rhetorical question?”
From the backseat, “I know, Mom.”
Vinnie’s mom glances at Vinnie, “You know what?”
“I know where Dad made a wrong turn? Rupert tried to tell him, but Dad wouldn’t listen.”
“Oh? Tell me where Dad made a wrong turn.”
Vinnie’s dad is now thinking it would have been better to drive through the night across the New Mexican and Arizona deserts to Flagstaff, Arizona, where there are no major airports.
“It was way back in Texas, Mom. There was a sign that said 60 miles to the Palo Duro State Park. The sign said it was like the Grand Canyon. We’d already be there, Mom. Why do we have to go to the Grand Canyon when Texas already has one, Mom? Why doesn’t Dad listen to Rupert, Mom?”
Vinnie’s dad says, “Let’s get to our room, then we’ll go out and find a nice restaurant and have a relaxing dinner.”
“Dad? Dad? Dad?”
“Yes, Vinnie?” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Can I have all the earplugs? I’ll have a set. Rupert will have a set and Dexter will have a set. Thanks for getting them for us, Dad. Make sure we go to a restaurant that allows dogs and grizzly bears to come in. After we eat can we go to the pool?”
Vinnie’s mom says to Vinnie’s dad, “Is there no bottom?”