Since returning from my September road trip to California I have been itching to get back on the road. I’m getting better at packing my car and having what I need at the ready. I love stopping at Welcome Centers, always friendly and offering coffee, and rest stops–some well built and well lit, others a little scary and remote–my writer’s brain comes up with some gruesome scenarios for the restrooms, yikes!
This time is different, I’m packing for five months rather than one. My usual modus operandi is to hit the trail early morning. It took most of the morning to load my car and it was looking more like a noon departure. It was in the high eighties in South Florida and I was hot and sweaty but excited to GO.
The last things to pack in the front passenger seat are items I need access to like my Brita filter water pitcher and my little red bucket of toiletries, lotion, lip balm, eye drops. Said red bucket sat perched on a basket of books and journals and, when I opened the door to add a bag of snacks, it slid in slow motion and landed upside down in the driveway. Aarrgghhh!
After cleaning up the glass, lotion and oil I thought I should pull my car forward a little just to make sure I got it all–POP, uh oh. I ran over my bottle of purple nail polish. Did you know that acetone doesn’t work on concrete? I carefully checked the tires, took a deep breath and hit the road. I made it to Georgia and called it a day.
Day 2–a calmer start, easy drive, uneventful–now we’re talking! This is fun, liberating and adventurous. I stop in Tupelo, Mississippi and settle in to read and chill. Great sleep and early start for Day 3. Lest you’re feeling envious of my glamorous life, read on.
I drove through Mississippi, a whisper of Tennessee–OMG the trees smell amazing–and Arkansas, Did you know there’s a Memphis City in Arkansas? That screwed me up for about a half an hour. As I entered Oklahoma there was a beeping alert on my phone “Severe tornado warning, take shelter immediately.” Serious Uh Oh–what to do? The sky was ominously gray and the wind picked up. I am used to storms in Florida, but the torrential rains were so heavy I couldn’t see five feet in front of me. Trucks zooming by bumping my little Prius with their wake. I felt so small.
White knuckled, hunched over the wheel, concentrating hard to stay in my lane, I drove on for over an hour and then–the sky cleared and there was that ethereal opening in the clouds where the sun beams come through–I heard the angels sing, maybe even trumpets. Relief flooded through me, I almost cried.
The sunset following the storm was mind blowing, purple, pink and orange. When I pulled in to a gas station to fill up I grabbed the squeegee to clean off my front bumper to keep up on the bug spackle. It was clean and shiny–free car wash! It was dark by the time I made it to Wichita, Kansas. I made a drink and went to bed early–worn out.
The La Quinta Inn in Wichita had a tropical, heated indoor pool. I only had a seven hour drive to Denver so I took my time. Made my green juice, took a dip in the pool, made a salad for the road and headed out at 11 am. About 90 miles out I blew a tire in Salina, Kansas. Well, really I shredded a tire. I pulled to the side of the windy highway to assess the damage. An SUV with two elderly ladies pulled over to make sure I was okay. So sweet!
Shout out to Jim of the Kansas Highway Patrol. He roams the highways of the Heartland looking for stranded motorists. He offered to change my tire and I let him. Except I had to unload my fully packed car. There I stood with all my stuff, while he put on the donut spare. Seems it was a good thing I shredded that tire, otherwise it would not have fit in the space for the spare and there was absolutely NO room for it anywhere else in my little car. He directed me to a nearby Toyota dealership.
I once again unloaded all my stuff so that they could go about putting on a new tire. A mechanic walked in, looked at the situation and asked “You moving in?” We all laughed. They were kind, accommodating and quick. I was back on the road in just over an hour. I try to look on the bright side, I found my laptop charger and repacked my car in a much better fashion. I didn’t make it to Denver until the next day. I think the adrenaline sapped my strength. My friend Claire welcomed me with open arms the next morning. I get to spend the weekend with her in her cozy home, aahhhh.
I am declaring to the Universe that, while I love adventure, I’ve had enough challenges for this trip. I made it through unscathed, but it tarnished my warm and fuzzy feeling of being in the flow. That is the lesson though, isn’t it? To keep your inner peace and happiness amidst chaos and obstacles. On the other hand, it reconfirmed my faith in humanity. People really are kind if you let them be.