Ever ridden in a car with kids on a road trip? Yes? You’ve heard this question constantly.
Ever been stuck in quarantine with close family? Yes? How many times did you ask yourself this question?
Ever been a caregiver for an aging parent nearing the end of life? Yes? How often did this thought come to you?
It is in the nature of humans to want to know what is next, what is around that corner, who is coming and when will they be here. Children aren’t the only impatient ones. We all have that thing that we are anticipating and ready to encounter. New job, new relationship, paying off debt, getting accepted to that school – goals and plans require waiting for the next step in the process.
A step that is part of a journey.
For myself this question comes up thanks to my son who regularly asks if the current book I’m writing is finished. I also think this question when I submit voice over auditions, wondering when those paying jobs will start and some cash starts to flow. I wonder this when I am sitting in the hot desert and I think back on my visit to Ogunquit, Maine and long to move away from here and relocate my life to the Maine coast.
I live in the arid country of southern Arizona. We have bridges, but the go over washes, which are dry river beds that only have water during monsoon season. They are boring flat bridges, grey-brown in color to match the desert.
But…then…in Florida… Yeah we were crossing a bridge through an amazing preserve and low and behold there was water under that bridge. Lots of water, for miles and miles.
I got a view of this bridge as we were coming up to it.
Seriously,how cool is this!?!? Ok, there are no cool bridges like this anywhere in Arizona.
Official bridge geek here.
I believe bridges are forms of art.
So amazing, and thrilling to drive over and through.
The geek in me wonders how engineers design these so they will continue to stand during hurricane winds. It’s math – physics, yes but it is fascinating.
Some are so elegant and graceful you feel grateful to have the opportunity to use them.
Some we drove on really looked as if they might need a bit of reinforcement or elevating.
When we were crossing the Mississippi River into Memphis on a rainy night it was pretty spectacular and bumpy.
You can see the rain drops on the windshield and the Tennessee sign on the cool bridge spanning the river, and the lights of the city in the distance.
Big river, pretty lights.
And then, in Mississippi (the state) we ran into this awesomeness.
A freaking tunnel that took us through the bay and under downtown Biloxi!!
Most families who do road trips have the nerdy things they do, things kid remember when they are older and may incorporate into their own road trips as grownups.
Ours is signs!
Not just any signs but signs that tell a story about our trip. We try to catch the state signs as we cross the border. Most times it works, but occasionally, especially on bumpy roads or at night, the picture is blurry.
There are some signs we always try to get like the continental divide or time zones, or the one that makes you wonder “huh?”
During our trip across country we saw a lot of interesting things, but the most startling were in the panhandle area of Florida, and the surprising evidence that remained of Hurricane Michael from last October. I just read this morning that this hurricane was upgraded to a category 5 and after our drive through its damage path I am not surprised.
The huge stumps of massive trees ripped from the ground, the ripped and tossed interstate signs, and houses and barns that looked like they exploded gave hubby and I pause at the power of nature’s fury. Interstate 10 was closed for quite a while due to downed trees and storm debris. Huge swaths of land were cleared where trees had been uprooted.
I’ve enjoyed road trips, mostly, especially when I go places I’ve never been and this trip took us through areas of our country that are the polar opposite of southern Arizona. I dug it!! Especially when we have plenty of time for side trips. We hit several places indicated in our National Parks Passport. This really gives us an even more diverse travel experience.
So now I have memories from which to compose, what I hope are interesting narratives, and photos of locations that might make you curious to go see for yourself.
Yep, we did it! We took two weeks and one day to drive from Catalina AZ to Orlando FL. As anyone who has done something like this knows not everything can be prepared for or anticipated, and the best perspective is “expect the unexpected.”
The first hurdle was hubby working 12 hour days right up to our departure. That made things hard to get ready and I hate packing for him! I mean seriously, I never get things quite right, so…this waited until the absolute last moment – like, the middle of the night before we planned to pull out at 7am. We packed the truck and the trailer, hooked the trailer (here after referred to as Daisy,) filled the truck with gas and managed to be on the road by 9am.
Ok so we tried!
Two weeks is quite a while, but in retrospect I brought way too many clothes and shoes. I know part of my rational was I would be in at least two different climates so I wasn’t sure what to bring. Our stop in eastern Tennessee would be during winter, with cold rain and fog, but central Florida would be warm spring tropical so you tell me – what would you bring?? Another thing that was big were the amount of tools hubby brought. Those filled the back of the truck. He and Aaron had plans to do a bunch of stuff to the 5th wheel while we were in Florida and since hubby has way more tools than son he brought them along. I’m talking shop vac, a ladder, a bag full of tie-downs, three tool boxes, etc., you get my drift.
It was a fun trip. The best part is always the humans who are part of the adventure. We learned some history, saw a musical production, roamed three DisneyWorld parks, and spent too much money $$$, but we had a good time and didn’t fight too much. 😉👍
Well fantastic followers, after two weeks and nearly 4,000 road miles later I am finally back online and ready to blog. I have a ton of photos and stories to share with everyone. Still getting the pics downloaded and sorted so it will probably be a series of blogs.
Hubby and I had fun visiting (in order round trip from Arizona) New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, ending back home in Arizona of course.
Our sweet little 15 foot travel trailer we have fondly named “Daisy” performed exceptionally well. She is a vintage 1982 Sport and we look forward to sprucing her up. We got a lot of attention and great comments about her.
We spent a week with Aaron and Chelsea. Hubby and son working on some RV repairs, going to Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom at DisneyWorld, watching Chelsea be excellent in a production of Beauty and the Beast, and eating way too many donuts!
Our place and our pets were well cared for by Heather Herman, with help from Kristopher and Trinity. It was such a relief not to have to worry about anything. Millie was crazy to see us again, and Cleo was mildly interested that we returned.
I finished the laundry, we’ve got most of everything put away, Daisy is cleaned out and now it’s the getting back to normal.
When we realized how close we were and that we had enough time, hubby and I took off for Memphis from Tulsa. We were in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a family reunion, so in our rental car we started east. This trip was full of some amazing and interesting places along the round trip. I had never been to the Ozarks or Little Rock. Never been to Arkansas. We got to Memphis, having spent a lot of time deciding what we would want to see. I had two places that were must see for me: Graceland and Beale Street. Fortunately hubby was with me on those. We also wanted to get some Memphis BBQ.
Graceland, what can I say. My parents were huge Elvis fans, they took us to every movie, listened to his music and we loved to hear the story dad told about meeting him in Paris while he was stationed in Germany. I had to go and I was so glad I did. It was great.
The business of Elvis is vast. When we arrived we parked, bought our tickets and waited for the shuttle to Graceland. Elvis Presley Blvd is a tree lined, busy road with the Elvis complex – a huge museum across the street from Graceland, and his private aircraft parked there, available for tours.
My favorite was the mansion itself, and I was a bit surprised at it’s size. It appears larger in photos, but it was still majestic. It is a time capsule, a trip into the late 1970’s. The carpet, the furnishings, the TV’s, it was so special. As we walked in, our tour group, a chatty group of humans suddenly hushed, gasped, and sighed. Almost in an orchestrated manner. We stood, heads turning, mouths open and we took in this place, this shrine, this home.
It sparkled and shone, the glass free of prints, nary a speck of dust, nothing out of place. Yes, we all felt the fortune of being one of thousands who have passed through the columns flanking the open door.
The first thought I had was my favorite Elvis song “Return to Sender.” I started humming it as we passed though the house. The kitchen had appliances, counters, and arrangements were typical of the Brady Bunch house!😉 Then we were at the jungle room. OMG, I loved it!!
The TV room was also so cool, with yellow and blue,
TV’s banked the walls.
I could picture Elvis and his “mafia” gathered on the long couches.
Part of the grounds are a museum filled with movies, costumes, photos and his gold and platinum records.
We used devices that narrated the displays. I enjoyed it. Those costumes blew me away.
When we came out I saw the pool, then realized we were at
He was flanked by his parents and as you can see it was filled with flowers and mementos from visitors. The thing I noticed was the murmuring of the crowds. It wasn’t noisy.
The museum had cars, ones of his videos running, and his music filling the cavernous museum.
We also went out to where his plane, the “Lisa Marie” was parked. It was set up for comfort and as his home, very colorful. When I was living in Texas, I saw it parked at Meacham Field in north Fort Worth.
We spent a wonderful day in a magic place, then that evening found a fun diner where we enjoyed their memorabilia and in Elvis’ favorite fried pickles.
Last week, hubby and I rented a very cute and fuel efficient Ford Focus to drive to So Cal for our grandson’s second birthday festivities. We left Thursday early afternoon and arrived in the San Fernando Valley that night. We managed to hit Phoenix I-10 gridlock, but missed LA traffic. Our bed was adequate, not perfect, but it would do. Thankfully I remembered to bring an Ambien to ward off the sleeping in a different place insomnia. Hubby and I were tired and ready to relax.
My daughter told us there were 52 humans who had RSVP’d!! I looked at my daughter with gaping mouth. She said of the 52 she expected 14 children. OMG!
Friday morning we got up early enough to see Charlie before he went to daycare and then the rest of the day was spent taking care of some legal stuff on our part for the foster/adoption thing and birthday party prep.
Did I say she expected 52?
Chuck was tasked with making a cut out frame for party selfies, a birthday banner, a bean bag toss game thing, and putting stickers on cups. I made 72 cupcakes. Red velvet, chocolate, and vanilla, with frosting. I also made a small cake for Charlie to demolish as is the custom with birthdays for little humans.
Melissa and Charlie got home and we had fun hanging with the munchkin. Gosh he is so cute and he has elastic arms so we spent a lot of our time keeping him out of the party stuff. At one point we gave in and took a bunch of bags to the cars for safe keeping. After he went to bed we opened a bottle of wine for the girls and a beer for hubby and proceeded to fill a crap load of goodie bags! Bed time for big humans.
Saturday. Party day. Chuck made a bunch of pigs-in-blankets so they would be warm for the party. We loaded the cars with pigs-in-blankets, cupcakes, goodie bags, selfie frame, bean bag game thing, Charlie, and headed out by 9am to do set up. My daughter’s good friends and landlords brought the helium and balloons, we got busy setting up and managed to be mostly ready for the first arrivals at 10am.
I did say she expected 52, right?
The party was held at the private school where my daughter teaches, just outside her classroom. There was a great covered area with tons of tables and next to it a huge grass lawn for little humans to run. Happy Birthday was sung, candle blown out, and Charlie was properly covered in chocolate after eating fistfuls of thickly iced cake. He looked like he had a beard, and was thoroughly happy and on a sugar buzz.
We were cleaned up and gone by 1pm. I was impressed. My heart was warmed by the wonderful friends of my daughter who are there to support and encourage her and Charlie in this life adventure of theirs. She is a fantastic person and it is obvious by the long-time good friends she has. We headed back to her place to unload and open gifts-what a haul! I took off and got us Cavaretta’s deli sandwiches for dinner. Yum!
Sunday morning was departure day for us. We got our stuff together though, as I found out after we got home, we left several things there. Breakfast was at Weiler’s, us, Melissa and Charlie, then it was time to come home.
The last few weeks have filled me with the strangest feelings.
I’ve spent time on my own as is usual when my husband is on shift. Normally he flies down for the two weeks off. Not this time. I waited anxiously for Chuck to drive all the way from North Dakota by himself towing the 5th wheel. My nerves were frazzled as I followed his trip and prayed for good weather. It took him almost three days but he arrived safely. No issues with the truck nor the trailer. We settled in for him to take it easy before he got to some projects he had.
My husband and I have lived in our neighborhood for over twenty years. We aren’t best buds with our neighbors but we know each other. We’ve watched the neighborhood kids grow up and move on. We let them know when we are going out of town. After so many years they know when things don’t look right.
Over the years there have only been a couple of homes that have been for sale. It’s pretty much the same folks who have lived here as long as we have.
But, there has been some tragedy in these past years. One neighbor lost her husband not long after we moved here. Mrs. Hadley was sweet lady who worked hard in her yard and had a tough little Yorkie I called “Godzilla.” Another neighbor lost her husband and only child in a fiery car cash several years ago. More recently another neighbor lost his son to overdose after attending a party his senior year of high school.
Last week I learned this same neighbor lost his life in a motorcycle accident. He loved riding his motorcycle. His wife was with him and she was seriously injured. They never wore helmets. She will take a long time to heal and already the neighbors are figuring out how to support this woman we know by name and by sight. I look forward to my chance be there for her.
This past weekend I was once again following Chuck’s travel plans. He had to make a side trip this time for his employer to Hobbs, NM to pick up a huge company owned BBQ grill. This thing is a big black beast and weighs over 7,000 lbs! It delayed his arrival but I hope he will be compensated for the extra miles and gas.
He got there safely and I am on my own again. But that’s okay, I will do alright with this. It’s getting really hot here and I will soon become a hermit, hiding in the house in air conditioning. I have to hang in there until the monsoon season starts and the storms come. At least it is diverting.