It was Wednesday, June 8, 2016, and I was exactly nine days away from my world being turned on its head. I would be entering uncharted territory, but between now and then, I would have a blast!
I worked all day, but our bags were already packed and ready to go. My husband was at home waiting for me in order to load the car. Yes…I finally admit it! He’s the BEST car packer ever! I had packed everything but the kitchen sink. This included gifts for those sweet grand babies, and lime green spray paint for us, yet he still found a way to nicely arrange everything in the trunk of the car!
We wanted the back seat open for whomever needed to rest, or in my case, just prop up my feet and enjoy the ride. I cannot sleep on trips, as I do not want to miss anything. I also wanted to do my part in keeping the driver awake.
I was determined NOT to be a back seat driver. (I know when my daughter reads this, she will be speechless with her mouth agape!) My husband, son, and I made a deal: They could have the entire trip to drive between the two of them if they give me only one city…Dallas, Texas! That was the only city that I would be a nervous wreck RIDING through, but would feel much better DRIVING through. They humored me and agreed to my crazy deal.
It had been one week since I had the nausea episode while cleaning my house, along with the twinge of pain in my knees and elbows that I mentioned in an earlier post. I had experienced nothing since then to raise any caution flags.
I jotted down a small detail in my calendar in 2016 that’s somewhat intriguing to me now. Written on this day, June 8, is “ROAD TRIP,” and underneath that, I penciled in, “All is well.” I honestly don’t remember writing it, but looking back at my notes, it triggered a memory that is somewhat haunting to me now.
When I was small, before any vacation, my daddy would always pray for safe traveling mercies. That did not cease when I got married. I’m 100% positive that my daddy was praying from his house, but in that pivotal moment, he was not physically praying in my car. For whatever reason, I cannot recall whether it was my husband or my son.
All I remember is quietly saying my own prayer. Mine was short and sweet and I concluded with an afterthought, “Lord, please let me be ok.” Looking back now, this small detail doesn’t really seem so small. I can honestly say I have no idea why I prayed this because I felt FANTASTIC!
Excitement filled the car! We had charted the same course we had taken the previous year with our daughter, so I wasn’t stressed at all. We knew exactly where we were going and about how long it would take to reach our final destination. I was in the backseat, sunglasses on, feet propped up with a pillow behind my back. “Go West young man,” I recall saying to my husband. “Life is good!”
If you’re curious to know how long driving all night will take you from South Carolina, the answer is Monroe, Louisiana. We stopped for breakfast at Waffle House off I-20 and made a quick stop at Duck Commander for a leg stretch and quick photo-op; however, they were closed, as the sun was just rising. We would not be buying a souvenir duck call today.
Of course, any great road trip wouldn’t be as great if you didn’t sing, “On the Road Again,” in your best Willie Nelson twang. I gave up the back seat to ride “shotgun” in order for my husband to get some much needed, and well deserved sleep.
My son gladly took the wheel and we were heading toward the great state of Texas! He had a tough choice between me or Siri as navigator. He chose wisely…Siri it is! Good call son! My husband was asleep in mere moments!
We stopped outside of Dallas for yet another another leg stretch. I felt nothing unusual as far as joint pain was concerned. Life was still good, and better yet, it was my turn to drive!
Ahh…Dallas…the third largest city in the state of Texas. Who is just crazy enough to drive through it? Yes, that would be me!
Last year, at midnight, traffic was bumper to bumper. I really just wanted to enjoy its enormity and diamond sparkling skyline, yet this was very difficult to do. We were following, and trying to keep up with our son-in-law in all that traffic. I was a nervous wreck! Although very stressful, he and my husband did fine. It was mostly everyone else that made me wince and grab the seat tightly the entire time! My heart rate increases just thinking about it.
This year it’s lunchtime and I’m behind the wheel. “Yeah baby!” I’m happy to report that traffic was actually much more tolerable! I’m also happy to report that I did a fantastic job with absolutely zero drama! I was such an awesome driver, they both agreed I should keep driving! The long straight highway was right up my alley! Eighty was the speed limit, so that’s what I did…(ish.)
I drove until we reached Amarillo, Texas. We stopped at Cadillac Ranch for another leg stretch. Here, there are ten, nose-buried Cadillacs in a humongous wheat field off I-40 and classic Route 66. Wind was gusting up to at least 35 mph. Trying to paint graffiti on some of those Caddy’s proved to be VERY difficult. It was quite amusing, but we tried. I had packed the lime green spray paint just for this stop. (Remember everything but the kitchen sink?)
For those of you that may not know, we were not “Breakin’ the Law, Breakin’ the Law.” This is what you’re supposed to do here.
After a very nice, early supper at The Big Texan Steakhouse, we “Hit the Road Jack.” (I know…I can’t help myself, for those of you who have already caught on.) Santa Rosa…here we come!
We left the tall, green trees behind many miles ago. They are now morphing into smaller bushes. The vast landscape is dramatically changing and there is nothing blocking that enormous blue sky! “I Can See For Miles and Miles.” (Go ahead…you can sing it.)
I secretly played the game my sister and I used to play…making pictures out of the puffy white clouds. We used to lay on the ground at home and have to look straight up at them. Out here, in this beautiful, strange land, I could look toward the horizon, and see them all perfectly fine. I loved it!
I wished my sweet “sista” were here with me now. I was getting lonely in that big backseat all by myself, but not nearly as lonely as I would feel in the upcoming months.
We made it to Santa Rosa, New Mexico! The sun would be setting soon and we had to visit the mystic Blue Hole before we found a room for the night.
The Blue Hole is an oasis out in the middle of nowhere. It is a geological formation measuring about 60 feet in diameter and 80 feet deep! Take a dive in the crystal blue water! It’s only a constant 62 degrees, even in their hot summers!
My oldest granddaughter jumped in last year, and my son dove in this year…TWICE! They both popped out of that super cold water in no time! (Crazy kids!) I put my big toe in it! “Woohoo!” There’s absolutely no way I would ever…ever…
Looking back now…it would be just a couple of short months before I would be piling cold packs all around my body to seek relief from pain. Heat just seemed to intensify it. Cold was, (and still is) my comfort. I often thought about the Blue Hole in my “alternate universe” to try and help calm my storm.
We didn’t have any hotel reservations for this entire trip. We were “flyin’ by the seat of our pants.” I generally wouldn’t do that because I’m such a planner; however, this tactic was perfect for this particular trip. Having taken this same route last year, made it easier to relinquish control of all the “minor” details. THIS road trip was a purely unadulterated…let the top down…wind in your hair…type of trip! You know…the one most everyone dreams of taking!
Don’t worry. The Lord saw fit to have the perfect room waiting for us that evening. We were looking forward to a good night’s sleep before the adventures we had lined up for the following day. We wanted to get an early start the next morning as we were planning to see something “GRAND.” If we timed THIS one right, we would be there a little before sunset as well.
We had an amazing 24 hours together! We drove from South Carolina to New Mexico in one full day! We were all still on speaking terms too! Miracle? Nope! Just “Love the One You’re With,” and don’t sweat the small stuff.
I hope you’ll join me for the remainder of our road trip in the coming days. No…we are not there yet! 🤦🏼♀️ My GOOD days are numbered, so allow me to have fun while I can!
Hopefully, you picked out my “song references easily.” We sang them all! 🤣
Always remember, I’M GOOD…I’M GOOD!
Carry on…and smile along the way!
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” KJV (always)