I stood at my front door as my friend and his brother pulled into my driveway. We were about to embark on an unprecedented journey.
Thirty minutes earlier, I had received an urgent phone call. It was imperative that my friend, Matt, get his Jetta to Denver in less than 24 hours for reasons that were both cruel and illogical.
My friend is in the military, and was based out of Colorado Springs at the time. His commanding officer had placed a crucial emphasis on the mobility of his subordinates. Handing down directives and code reds like Col. Nathan R. Jessep, commanding officer, Marine ground forces, Guantanimo Bay, Cuba, Matt's commanding officer insisted that he have a car to drive all over base conducting foolish errands for the most menial people.
Despite my misgivings about the necessity of the car, I agreed to drive at high speeds from Atlanta and Denver in less than 24 hours. It would require skillful driving and indefatigable endurance to complete, so I accepted what my friend was calling "an unprecedented mission" because it was a challenge. And on top of that, failure to complete said mission would result in the cancellation of our New Year's Eve trip to New York.
Riding up the Interstate 75 changing roads in Tennessee, the trees blurred by us until we reached St. Louis. It seemed like no time at all, probably because it wasn't my turn to drive yet.
A smooth ride so far, it looked as if the journey would go off without a hitch, until I got behind the wheel and realized my manual transmission skills were not quite up to par. This wasn't a serious problem though, since freeway driving requires little shifting, so for a while I was ok.
But a stop for gas outside Kansas City was my undoing. We spent about 15 minutes at a stoplight until I could get the car to roll forward out of first gear and into second. I felt like the relief pitcher, Chris Reitsma, brought in to close out a game, but continually humiliated by defeat. My friend's brother, Patrick, was no help. I needed a pitching coach and all I got was jeers from the backseat. He even went as far as pointing out my embarrassing predicament to passing cars.
What seemed like a horrible blemish on an otherwise perfect road trip became a minor inconvenience after we took on a strip of highway through Kansas though.
The barren landscape was putting all of us, including the driver to sleep. Even the truck drivers were stopping on the side of the road.
At one point, I think we started repeatedly quoting the line from "Dumb and Dumber" when Lloyd Christmas takes over helm of the Sheep Dog van.
"Some people were just not cut out for life on the road," we said, as we passed snoozing truckers pulled over at rest stops, slapping ourselves to stay awake.
There was talk of a hotel, but it was quashed immediately. Stopping to sleep would amount to mutiny, plus we had a 10:30 flight from Denver to Salt Lake City that we had to make.
There was nothing left to do but press down on the accelerator and force our way up the Rockies.
We eventually made it through Kansas and up the long hills leading to Denver, sliding back and forth on iced over roads and letting the crisp Colorado air keep us awake.
The drive had never been done before and probably never will again.
Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News-Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .