The months of May and June were a blur. I know that I was alive during them because I have photos as evidence but because I operated at full-tilt I recall little. The month of May began with a surprise trip to Pennsylvania where I helped my son pack up at the end of the school year and drive back to California. It seems the brutal winters, creepy old houses with cellars and not having much family there made him have a change of heart about finishing college back east.
Since I had little notice about this trip I had to throw together an impromptu cross-country adventure that hopefully I could manage with a post-surgery healing knee. My surgeon approved the trip but advised me to use lots of ice and to get out of the car every 2-3 hours to walk around. I left feeling somewhat optimistic but frankly I was a tad apprehensive about sitting in a car for +2,700 miles.
After Mom aka The Basque Traveler scrubbed his studio apartment so he could concentrate on finals and his farewell gatherings with friends, we hit the road. Our first stop was Erie, PA. Now Erie is about an hour off of our route but there’s a beautiful 83 yr old Russian woman, Nina, who would have been devastated if we hadn’t stopped to see her so we did. She stuffed us to the gills with her homemade stew, we collapsed for the night in her most comfortable beds before she fed us a big breakfast and sent us on our way.
This road trip with my son was chalk full of compromises. He is not the avid traveler that I am and simply just wanted to get home. I refused to make the trip without a minimal amount of sightseeing and visiting. My first “win” was stopping to see Nina in Erie which was promptly followed by my “loss” in not getting to stop in Cleveland. I made a comeback “win” with a fabulous dinner (see the dessert to the right) provided by good friends in Kokomo, Indiana. All of the fun in Kokomo left us no time to stop in Indianapolis so we both agree that we would drive straight to St. Louis.
So there we were in St. Louis, Missouri on Mother’s Day. We marveled at the Gateway Arch. I chased brides and grooms around taking photos of them like I always do. Then we hunted down a downtown hotel and walked over to a bar and grill for my Mother’s Day dinner. We spent the following morning sightseeing. I could have spent a couple extra days in St. Louis but alas, we had family waiting to see us in Kansas. Hence we were off to see the Wizard but had to first brave spring storms that were so bad you couldn’t see well enough to even pull over to the shoulder.
Now truthfully I have never given Kansas much thought before this road trip. Now here I was faced with spending two days there catching up with family and looking for interesting things to do. We began the stay with a delicious BBQ dinner followed by ice cream. On our first full day there, cousin David gave us a grand tour of historic Fort Riley and topped off the sightseeing with a visit to the Oz Museum and Winery. All kidding aside, the museum was just precious and we spent the better half of the afternoon there looking at memorabilia and reading fascinating facts about the making of the movie. They had the best souvenirs! I was even able to bring home a pair of my own Ruby Red slippers.
Next came the most tiresome day of driving, the stretch between central Kansas and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Each tiny town along the side of the road looked just like the one before it. They consisted of silos, usually one gas station and a tiny main street with a sprinkling of stores. I could have sworn by son just kept looping back around to the same town when I dozed off.
I would like to report that we have each state’s welcoming sign but alas, the passenger/camera person was always either asleep or too focused on something else to capture the signs. The initial thrill of a cross-country road trip was wearing off and soon we began to squabble over the silliest of things. More than once I toyed with dropping my son off at the nearest airport but we always managed to get back into each other’s good graces in order to work together as a team.
As happy as we were to finally be in New Mexico, we were startled at how many highway police were out patrolling for speeding offenders. We slowed down our usual California speeding habits and were thrilled to reach our destination without any tickets. Fabulous green chili stew was waiting for us at Sam and Judy’s house. We sat up the better half the night visiting and watching American Idol before collapsing for the evening. Next stop was Sedona, AZ. This was a “‘win” for me because there was no way I was planning to drive through hot, dry and brown Arizona without a jaunt to Sedona.
Well, after the overnight Sedona stay my son began to act like a horse that knew he was relatively close to his stall. I managed to get to him to agree to have lunch with a family member in Prescott Valley then it was California or bust!
I wish I could say that I returned home to rest for a month or so but this was just the beginning of another month of road trips and general travel…to be continued.