But we'll start with our start time. Immediately, things did not go according to plan--my sister had weather, work, and car troubles, delaying her arrival until the afternoon, around 1. (The original plan being us leaving around noon at the latest.) At least she brought our brother with her, so that was a saved trip there.
Then, we immediately discover that the car we are driving has a strong imbalance to the lower left, causing a very painful scraping noise especially on rough terrain (the majority of our route), hills, and ESPECIALLY right turns. (Not much of a turn, either. Basically anything stronger than a lane change would trigger it.)
Of course, we did slightly mitigate the problem with a redistribution of weight, namely, placing stuff in the other car, but the problem never fully went away. The trip also got off to a bad start because our dad chose the literal worst way possible to access Safeway, leaving bad omens in the air, which hoh boy did we later collect on. Our kitten, Starlight, was along for the ride for the first time. She was not pleased for the majority, complaining a lot and also getting into a fair amount of trouble.
Traffic was a killer, so given our late start, at our normal exit of exit 21, I predicted a stopping time of 7:00. My siblings took earlier times, 6:30 (my brother) and 6:45 (my younger sister). This, of course, being a subwager of the larger wager. (Arrival time. My brother predicted the latest, 2 AM. My older sister, earliest, 1. My younger sister, 1:30. In this one, I was the one splitting the difference, selecting 1:45.)
We ended up stopping at a rest stop, which had some absolutely DELICIOUS coffee. It was apparently heavenly even black, but they had creamer and chocolate powder mixes available, so I made mine a makeshift mocha. Of course, while free, they were looking for donations--I decided to give them a random dollar bill, which ended up being $5. Soon after, we were to stop at a Dairy Queen for our only meal on the road.
My dad, driving the car we kids were following, missed the turn. This, on a highway. He also ran a yellow light, leaving us stuck behind a red. (And stuck in the wrong lane thanks to following him even though we knew he was wrong.) Then, he made a sketchy u-turn we could not replicate. So we had to drive on a highway for a few miles before locating a place where we ourselves could turn around. (And ended up making a sketchy u-turn anyway.)
Once there, I ordered the largest meal I have ever ordered: two plain half-pounders (basically DQ's equivalent of McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese--literally EVERY fast food burger joint has one of those), PLUS a medium fries. (This accidentally got doubled to TWO medium fries.) And on top of that, a hot coffee. (DQ doesn't have much in the way of coffee options, what with their specialty lying in frozen foods, but they didn't need to.)
I was honestly impressed with how few mistakes were made on our ridiculously-complicated order, especially when they ran into technical difficulties getting the order actually properly processed.
By the way, that whole meal? All those fries, TWO burgers, and the coffee? I ate it all. Not in multiple sittings, either. All at once. Well, technically the second burger and the coffee I had in the car, whereas the rest I had in the restaurant, but that's a technicality caused by me not wanting to hold up the family. (Our drivers were done eating, so we took our to-go meals...to go.) But literally the moment I was in the car, I finished what I had started, and honestly feel I could have eaten MORE.
The most notable thing, however, is not my gluttony, but rather, a comment I heard in the Dairy Queen which I know was referring to me. I was getting the ketchup for my fries, and I was REALLY taking a lot, filling the cup to the brim. There were a couple of people behind me waiting for the ketchup, one an old lady and the other someone I presumed was a grandchild. And the old lady said,
"Well she sure must like her ketchup!"
...There was no context where she could have been referring to anyone other than me. Admittedly, this was them viewing me from behind, so they couldn't see me from the front. But all the same, the fact remains. In spite of me being 6'2", from behind, a random stranger defaulted to reading me as female.
Can't really ask for a better compliment than that.
By the way: for the gas stop at exit 21, I won by default. Past 7 PM, and we were still on the road. This rule, my brother insisted we stick by: not adjusting our estimates even with stupid stops. He of course had vested interest in this, though, thanks to him having the latest time on the main wager. And guess what?
We had car troubles not long after that. Rather, our parents' car--the one we DIDN'T suspect there was a problem with--did. So we had to wait an hour and a half for a tow truck to arrive. (At least.) All of this, combined with some stops that were strictly speaking not necessarily needed, added up to where there was no contest. He won by a landslide. We ended up arriving at around 4 AM, about half an hour before I started typing this, giving us a total driving time of...
...14 hours. Almost exactly. (13 and 55 minutes to be more precise.)
I'm sorry, I'm missing SO many juicy details of this trip, I'm sure. It's something incredibly memorable each year, especially given sibling snark. (Sibling snark is always something I've loved. I've taken inspiration from it into many of my attempted webcomics, for good reason. But while I've captured some, the vast majority of it was "in the moment", and is thus lost to the ages when I want to recall memorable things.)
Butyeah. It's past 5 AM, but this is still my December 23rd entry all the same, since it chronicles our adventures as much as possible.