Road Trip III – Our Return Home

It was June 11, 2016, and after driving west across the United States of America, minus California, it was time to change direction and head south instead.  We left Sedona, and about 300 miles later, after zipping through Phoenix and Tucson, we were in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  This is a small city in Cochise County about 20 miles north of the border where we would see the best sights of our trip!

This is where our son-in-law, daughter, and three precious granddaughters lived.  It was such an exhilarating moment being able to wrap our arms around everyone again!  FaceTime is great, but “up close and personal” is certainly so much better!

Our grands call me Gigi, my husband Pop, and my son Coco.  The youngest one, our sweet princess, was three at the time.  She certainly kept us busy chasing her and playing on the floor with her over-abundance of toys.

The other two grands are older and enjoyed seeing us, but were content to have their electronics close at hand.  They both enjoyed having Uncle “Coco” there, as this was his first visit to their house.

The following day, we visited Tombstone, Arizona, which is about 20 miles from Sierra Vista.  About 450,000 tourists visit Tombstone each year, “The Town Too Tough To Die.”  It is not a movie set or a pretend town using a facade of storefronts and made up folklore.

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These dusty streets are lined with the rustic buildings and landmarks from the 1880s.  The infamous gunfight at the OK Corral is re-enacted here.  It is definitely cool, but also strangely haunting to wander the streets that Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday roamed…two of Arizona’s most popular “ghosts of North America.”

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The Bird Cage Theater is now a museum.  It is registered with the  Library of Congress to preserve the rich history of the late 1800s.  The walls come complete with bullet holes shot by Doc Holliday with many of his slugs still buried in them. I can hear ‘ole Doc saying now, “I’m your huckleberry,” after shootin’ up the place.  I’m not sure of the reasoning behind the bullet holes, but at this point, we can use our imagination.  It was the Wild West!  I would like to think he was defending himself, one of the Earp brothers, or his girlfriend, Kate.

After leaving Tombstone, we spent one additional night in Sierra Vista before we began our journey back to South Carolina.

The following morning, we were eager to hit the road again.  We had a new goal in mind…to get home as soon as possible.  Our son-in-law stayed behind, as he had to work and also care for  Leo, our grand puppy.

I would like to share cool and awesome stories of what we did on our way home, but we were basically driving fast and furious, anxious to reach our new goal.  It had been quite some time since our daughter had seen her family and friends.

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We entered El Paso, Texas via I-10 E and didn’t stop except to eat and use the restroom.  We made really good time the first day.  We traveled to the halfway mark, about 1050 miles, and made it almost to Houston.  We would stop here for the night.  I am one proud Gigi!  Our grandchildren are road warriors!  There were no complaints from any of them!

Imagine driving that far healthy and vibrant!  My daughter has RA and although I never heard her complain, if you sit too long, your entire body rebels and stiffens to where it is very difficult to move. The fluid around all of your joints is targeted by rheumatoid arthritis.  The immune system sees this fluid as bad when it actually is not.  It’s supposed to be lubricating your joints.  RA breaks down this fluid and, if not properly treated, it can wreak havoc within one’s body.  I could only imagine how much pain she must’ve been experiencing. Trust me!  I would be finding this out in the following few days!  

We left very early the following morning.  We could potentially be home by midnight if we pushed like we did the previous day.  Too aggressive?  Maybe so, but this was only 1000 miles and about 16 hours to go with periodic pit stops.

This plan wasn’t meant to be.  The day progressed much more slowly than the previous one! After a very long traffic delay on the other side of Houston, our plan fell apart. The back of an overturned poultry truck was on fire.  The driver was fine, but I’m sorry to say many of the chickens didn’t make it.  It did smell delicious though.😯 We exited this great state at mile marker 880 late that morning.

GOD BLESS TEXAS!

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Later that afternoon, we had only traveled about 400 miles after our long delay earlier.  Our drivers were simply exhausted.  Tension was elevated from driving so far in such a short amount of time over the course of the past two days. If this was the worst thing that happened, we were doing A-OK!  We just needed to rest, stretch, and relax!

We stopped in Slidell, Louisiana to eat supper and we would travel no further!  Giving no one a choice, I made what my daughter called a “mama bear” move.  There was a brand new, amazing hotel directly across the road from where we were eating.  I gave my daughter the credit card and asked her to book two rooms for us.  She did what any awesome daughter would do.  She listened.

The indoor heated, salt water swimming pool was calling our name!  It was like a nice, long epsom salt bath!  This place was perfect and exactly what “mama bear” ordered!  Everyone loved each other again. 😘

It was Thursday, June 16, 2016.  We left very early as we would have about ten hours before we officially ended our remarkable road trip!  At the end of these ten hours, I would also BEGIN my next long journey…deep into a dark, very unfamiliar place…”my alternate universe.”

We were counting down each state!  We quickly left Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in our dust!  We finally crossed the South Carolina state line later that afternoon.  When we were about fifteen miles from home, the princess was crying because her tummy was hurting.  When I could no longer console her, I removed her from her car seat to hold her tightly in my lap.

As I was saying a prayer for her, I noticed my feet had a tingling sensation.  I figured they were asleep so I tried moving them around while I was loving on my now quiet, and somewhat content sweet princess.  She was snuggled up really close to me.

Now, my feet felt very strange.  Asleep?  Maybe…but this was different. They felt cold…so cold it hurt.  You would’ve thought I dipped them in the super cold Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, New Mexico we had just visited a week earlier. I actually threw my sweater over my feet in this hot, humid, South Carolina summer day!

We dropped our daughter and three grands off where they would be staying for the next few weeks on their extended visit.  We couldn’t be selfish. Many friends and family hadn’t seen them in a very long time. They needed time with our sweet girls too!

In just a few more miles, we pulled into our driveway and opened the garage.  Four thousand, six hundred, and fourteen miles later…HOME SWEET HOME!  Thank you Lord for safe traveling mercies!

I stepped out of the car and I stopped dead in my tracks.  As soon as I put pressure on my feet, the intense cold immediately turned to insanely hot.  It felt as though a sudden high fever had spiked in both of them.  I wish I could’ve seen the expression on my face.  I can imagine my eyeballs were as big as saucers, as my grandmother (Maw) used to say.

“I’m not sure I can make it inside,” I told my husband.  It was actually quite comical at the moment!  Surely being in the car for an extended period of time was causing this unfortunate thing to happen to me.

Pop helped me into the house. He instructed me to lay on the couch in order to prop up my now red, tingling, throbbing, fiery hot, monsterous feet! I was mortified!  I could not see my ankles on either side of either foot. They were as big as my calves. It was hideous, but we all actually received a good chuckle out of it later that evening.

Pop and Coco unloaded the car, unpacked our bags, put laundry in to wash, ordered, and picked up supper.  I actually felt like a princess not having to lift a finger.  I have the best husband and son for being so thoughtful and kind. Rest is what I needed, and rest is what I got! This was some of the best sleep I would have for many months to come, as sleep would soon evade me.

Praise the Lord for holding off my symptoms until our arrival home! Leaving this very same driveway only eight days ago, I was 100% healthy! Just the simple act of stepping out of my car upon our return ignited a chain of events that would maniacally unfold over the coming weeks.

Who was I trying to convince when I absent-mindedly wrote a three word statement in my calendar, “All Is Well” on our departure date?  When I silently prayed for “everything to be ok with me…” was I secretly trying to bid something away that I felt was lurking?  I had certainly prayed since then and had not uttered these poignant words again…yet.

I didn’t think twice about any of these things on the entire trip, but one previous incident of nausea, one previous incident of pain in my knees and elbows, one prior written statement of “All Is Well,” and one short, silent prayer later…does your inner self really know when something is not right? I earnestly believe so!  One would be hard-pressed to convince me otherwise…especially now.

I started jotting down details about how I felt on this very day.  Most of my varied doctors would thank me for this down the road. I feel that this was the exact first day of an unplanned pilgrimage that I would eventually be mostly thankful.  Yes, you read that right, just not today!  Being reflective and thankful would take about a year and a half!

Symptoms from my illness occurred in the blink of an eye but all things considered, “I’M GOOD, I’M GOOD,”  so carry on…and smile along the way!

Psalm 32:8  I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go:  I will guide thee with mine eye.”  KJV (always)

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