It was an odd invitation from the wife: ''Hey, you want to drive to Florida with me and the dogs for vacation?"
That sounded more like punishment for a felony than a way to spend a well-earned getaway.
But there was something irresistible about the road trip. To drive from Massachusetts to Florida to sponge a vacation off the in-laws is old school. And, if you're not for the old school, well, chances are you don't stand for much of anything.
It should be said right here that, of all the living, breathing creatures on the trip, the three Labrador retrievers -- Rebecca de Winter, Sabrina Fairchild, and Lance Armstrong -- were the least of the worries. The problem was with the man.
When a man goes on a road trip, he points the car toward his final destination and stops only for gas, food, caffeinated beverages, and restroom facilities. Along the way, he may enjoy fall foliage, scenic vistas, and historic sites at 75 miles per hour.
A woman wants to stop and see things.
The sloppiness of the English language is evident in the word ''see." A man stops, looks out the window, puts the car in reverse, and leaves. The man has ''seen."
The wife wants to experience things in all of their detail. She wants to take pictures. She wants to talk about the experience.
She is not alone. While walking through Christo's Gates in New York's Central Park, we heard a frustrated man whine, ''How many of these things do we have to look at?"
Yet, despite the sniveling, the gates were beautiful to behold. The snow had just fallen on the ground, and everywhere you looked, the orange gates, arranged at different intervals, brought new meaning to Frederick Law Olmsted's Central Park. It would be great to see Boston take such a risk and enjoy such a reward.
And our trip turned out just fine.
After one-too-many bad fast-food meals, we found the real thing at the Twin Oaks restaurant, 4 miles off Interstate 95 in Brunswick, Ga.: barbecue, which is to Georgia what lobster is to Massachusetts.
The portions were generous, the customers were super-sized regulars who didn't even have to open the menus, the french fries were dipped in batter before they were fried, and there were some leftovers for the dogs.
The live oak trees were as spectacular as the food -- large, weeping creatures that have seen it all. They graciously offered up a heaping helping of shade to that curious creature in Georgia, the Yankee.
While we took a few of the comforts of home with us, there were others who brought their entire homes with them. On the road, we saw RVs coming and going. They had satellite dishes on top, cars in tow behind, and grand names on the sides. There's the Adirondack, the Wilderness, the Keystone, the Endeavor, the Montana, the Catalina.
They may be onto something. When we arrived in Florida to soak up the sun and the free vacation, an old friend of a book was waiting for us. In ''On The Road with Charles Kuralt," the author roamed the country in a tired RV looking for interesting people and untold stories.
My favorite part of the book is a quote from Henry David Thoreau: ''If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears."
The residents of the gated community we stayed at did not appreciate the fact that my wife marched to the music she heard with her three dogs.
Sabrina Fairchild escaped and went tearing down the fairway in pursuit of a golf ball. Rebecca de Winter a-woof-woof-ed at 5 in the morning for her breakfast, slept on Mother's favorite cream-colored sofa, and shed on the bedspread.
For the record, Lance Armstrong was a total dream. So long as you ignore the unfortunate incident on the beach involving a dog that was the size of a cat and its owner, who was one extremely irate lady.
On his vacation, Hull resident Joe Berkeley spent four days in the car and five days in Florida. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.