Road Trippin'!

One of the best and worst things about this time of year is the annual cross-country trip from Denver, CO to Charlottesville, VA. It’s the worst time of year because my youngest daughter, Kimberly, is headed back to school after a meager 12 weeks at home.  It’s the Best time of year because for three days I have one-on-one time with her, laughing, singing, and talking about the quirks of life, from the mundane to the serious. It brings back memories of her middle school years when she went to a private Montessori school that was an hour commute from our home. Back then, we used the time in the car to recount the “funny story of the day” to each other. At the time I worked in a real estate office and believe me, there were plenty of “funny stories of the day”. So suffice it to say that after 720 hours traveling to and from school for two years, she and I have mastered the fine art of entertaining ourselves in the car. A 1600 mile, 25 hour trip might be daunting to some, but for us, it’s party time.

The party begins with The Bag o’ Calories. It’s important to remember that The Bag O’Calories will be riding in a car which may be parked in hot locations. This will determine the types of foods you will want to put in the bag. Ours consisted of Twizzlers: 1200 calories. Pringles: 933 calories. Sour Patch Kids: 500 calories. Tootsie Roll Pops: 1440 calories, and 2 peaches: 100 calories, (because we have to be healthy). A grand total of 4,173 calories, divided by two people, in the car for three days = roughly 695 calories each. Okay, I might have had more than my share.  

The party is enhanced by the selection of music from two different IPODs. And just like Me and Bobby McGee, we sang along to every song, whichever one of us happened to be driving, knew.

Our first day was mostly driving across the state of Kansas, where one can find fields as flat and as far as the eye can see, broken only by the occasional grain silo. On our last road trip we stopped to see the World’s Largest Prairie Dog in Oakley, KS,

and The Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, KS.

This year we decided to try to see things we hadn’t already seen. We stopped at the Cathedral on the Plains in Victoria, KS.

It is a large beautiful church made of sandstone that seems rather grand for the little town where it is situated. However, we weren’t able to go inside because some couple had decided to get married that morning. A church wedding on a Saturday morning…really…who does that? Anyway, you can go here to see the inside of the church.

Our first stop for the night was in Columbia, Missouri. We ate dinner at a restaurant on the campus of The University of Missouri. Of course, we picked “Move In Weekend” to do this. There were tons of new students and parents everywhere, which brought back memories of “move-in weekend” at The University of Virginia three years ago. I remember feeling the edge of panic at leaving my little girl in a place where she didn’t know anybody, when I was going to be 1600 miles away. This time would be somewhat different as she enters her first year of graduate school, but really, as a mother, it still isn’t all that different.

Our second day we explored Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is a gem of a city situated on the beautiful Ohio River. We walked along the River Walk and had lunch at a very cool restaurant called The Troll Under the Bridge. The restaurant was in the basement of an old brick building built in the 1800s. Imagine a dungeon with a funky edge to it and you will get the vibe of the place.

Oh…and there were chickens too!

We spent our second night at a casino in West Virginia. We checked in and drove around the back of the hotel to park near the elevator. As we got out of the car a man came out of the dumpster enclosure and offered to carry our bags inside for us. He was dressed in a hotel uniform and smoking a cigarette. He came over to me and told me that I “didn’t see him smoking’ and offered to carry my bags again. I thanked him but politely declined his offer of help...again. He then said, “Are you sure? Because I would be glad to carry that shit for you”. Huh? Ummmm…again…no thanks.  We saw this guy twice more that night. He just seemed to randomly be everywhere we were. And when we left the next morning, he was still there hanging around the dumpster. One wonders…was this guy real? Was he a ghost? Could anyone else see him???? Oh…and we left $5 dollars of our hard-earned money at the casino.

We arrived in Charlottesville on our third day of traveling, exhausted but all the closer for the laughter, the tears, and the all out goofiness that is our relationship with each other. I am proud of the young woman my daughter has become and thankful that even though she is all grown up, we still tell each other the “funny story of the day” and giggle together, yet we can talk just as openly about the tough stuff too.

Although I don’t have the opportunity to take three day road trips with my other two children, I can say that the same is true for each one of my kids. They are amazing people who are so much fun to hang out with and now that they are adults and the pressure of “raising them right” is off, I can truly enjoy who they are as people.

If you're gonna get in the saddle, you'd better be ready for the ride.


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