I love making my mom cry. When I see those big, red puffy eyes filling with tears, it means I did something right.
Your mom could learn a thing or two from my mom. She's so nice that she belongs in a situation comedy on 1950s television, like The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. (Surely you remember Harriet Nelson, a big band singer that became a mom?)
She's bailed me out of every jam, and I'll never be able to repay her. So that's why I took her to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, an event my mom's talked about since I wore shoes that lit up when I walked. We took a 2014 GMC Acadia Denali, a nice crossover utility vehicle.
Joker at the wheel
"And here...we…go," I said to myself in my best Heath-Ledger-as-the-Joker voice as I climbed behind the steering wheel of the 2014 Acadia Denali for the 10-hour trip to Manhattan. My brother and my dad were already bickering, and we hadn't even finished loading up the seven-passenger crossover.
They were arguing about who would be exiled to the third-row seat. Since we'd put down the smaller side of the 60/40-split folding rear seats to make more room for luggage, it would be cramped in the way-back seat. In the end, my girlfriend sat in the back, while my dad and brother got the captain's chairs in the second row. (This could turn out bad for me, I thought.) My mom sat next to me.
Ohio, Land of Enchantment
We left at 10:00 PM on Tuesday night and averaged about 90 mph from Ann Arbor to the Ohio Turnpike, where I let cruise control take over. Cruise control is essential when you're driving on a turnpike riddled with cops, especially at night. I thought our Acadia Denali had adaptive cruise control, but it didn't. As it turns out, no 2014 Acadia does. This seems a little peculiar in a vehicle with an MSRP that starts at $46,675, but you don't just paste on radar sensors like they are candy-covered stickers, I suppose.
The plain old cruise control didn't affect my driving style so late at night, when the road is relatively uncrowded. The stiff-legged ride affected me, though. I started ranting that this car-like unit-body vehicle rides like one of GMC's body-on-frame pickup trucks. My mom didn't seem to get what I was talking about. (She's so like my girlfriend in that way.) Your author's increased grumpiness when driving through Ohio probably had something to do with it. More likely it was the Denali's 20-inch wheels, very fashionable but lashed to harsh-riding P255/55R-20 tires. Let's face it, the dub look is dumb on an Acadia.
Weather got really dicey near Youngstown, Ohio, near the border of Pennsylvania. The all-wheel-drive Acadia did an admirable job of charging over the slush-covered highway, and its HID headlights gave us great forward visibility. The stability control kicked on when we needed it, which was a little more often than I would've liked, due to the fact that our Acadia had all-season rubber. Remember, all-wheel drive can't fix all-season rubber.
Finally we had to pull off and find a hotel. My mom made sure we ended up at the nicest one in town.
The Twilight Diner, not Zagat-rated
Up early, we packed the 2014 Acadia and left. We promptly entered Pennsylvania, and I started making up lost time on dry pavement. Around lunchtime, we took Exit 185 on I-80 East and arrived at the Twilight Diner. A family atmosphere and sixers of beer to go if you like; clearly not a place my mom would have picked.
As I ordered chicken and biscuits, I stared at our GMC Acadia Denali through the window. From its angry-looking snout to its massive flanks, the 2014 Acadia commands attention in a way that most other seven-passenger crossovers don't. Especially in our car's Crystal Red. Even my mom mentioned the Acadia Denali's styling.
Later that afternoon, I woke up in the third-row of the Acadia, my face pressed into the side of my brother's suitcase. We'd stacked our luggage on the smaller portion of the 60/40-split folding seats, and I'd wedged myself into the larger portion. A lot of light finds its way into the back row, although the sunroofs over the first and second rows of seats probably help. I didn't find the ride as unpleasant as I had the previous day.
My mom and my girlfriend were listening to Camelot in its entirety on the rear-seat entertainment system with its ten Bose speakers and 5.1 surround sound. Fortunately they didn't sing, though you could tell that they wanted to.
Manhattan, Land of Giant Inflatables
The Holland Tunnel drops you under the Hudson River and then you emerge into SoHo traffic hell. I cursed every little, yellow Prius taxi in my immediate vicinity. The fact that I was driving a 5000-lb utility vehicle made it worse, like a golf ball squirting through the garden hose of the tunnel. My mom hummed along to a song on SiriusXM's seasonal music channel, "Holly."
The navigation system told us that we had less than two miles to go to our destination, but it also said it would take an hour to get there. I channeled the aggression I'd felt in the tunnel into some super-stellar driving moves. In just a few minutes we'd done what the navigation system said would an hour. Then it happened, a left turn at an intersection. We sat completely still for 20 minutes. My mom told me to be patient. Finally I dropped everyone at our rented condo, parked the Acadia at a nearby garage, and went to find a whiskey. Sadly, the "Holly" channel just doesn't do it for me.
We woke up early in the morning on Thanksgiving. I still felt a little overly amped in Manhattan. Then I saw my mom wearing her Kermit-the-Frog beanie, smiling wider than I've seen her smile in a long time. We left the 2014 GMC Acadia Denali in the parking structure, grabbed a Ford Escape hybrid in disguise as a little yellow taxi and went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We found some seats in the grandstands and waited for the parade to start. When it did, I looked at my mom and those big, red puffy eyes filling with tears.
I had done something right.