Two Lane Gems, Vol. 2: Day 35 – Home

Author Theresa L. Goodrich presents an excerpt from Two Lane Gems, Vol. 2: Bison are Giant and Other Observations from an American Road Trip. Enjoy!

Almost. I should say almost home. Technically, we were still in Wisconsin and needed to get to Illinois. If you wanted to get truly technical, we still had no home at all.

Whatever. We were close.

We took our time breaking down camp that morning. We tried to take a hike, but we got about a hundred feet into it and said, “yeah, nope.” Before we walked back those hundred feet, we watched the fastest butterfly we’ve ever seen. There was a concession stand and we had one more frosty treat. While we dipped into our black cherry chocolate chip, we watched a dad take his sobbing boy to the stand to replace a dropped scoop. On the way out of the park, we took a short walk to one more waterfall. The sun hit the cascading stream just right and its white reflection led a path directly to us. We said Yes, one more time.

Waterfall at Governor Dodge State Park in Wisconsin

Mineral Point was on the way. It’s the most Cornwall you can get outside of England, but when we visited, not much was open. That was fine. I was happy to browse the buffet of National Historic Register markers as we walked uphill and down. Rainbow flags and artist boutiques let me know this was a place I’d like to visit in depth. Some other time.

We stayed on the two-lanes as long as we could stand it, but after a while we were done. Our trip was done. Now it was all about unloading what we could into our storage unit, picking up our car, and returning Jeannie the Jeep.

Dropping the keys into the return box felt like saying goodbye to a friend. If the office had been open, I would have asked, “How much to keep her?” But, it was after hours on July 3, so we deposited her keys and checked into our room at the Holiday Inn. We’d stay there for two nights and then house sit for a couple of weeks while we looked for a place to live. (In case you’re wondering, we found one, and it was worth the drama.)

The next day we celebrated our country’s independence with friends. I’m afraid we weren’t terribly good company. Both of us were shell-shocked, and would be for some time.

We had driven 6,832.9 miles, visited twelve states, and spent 166.58 hours – nearly seven days – in the car. At dinner, our friends asked us our favorite places and experiences, and we looked at each other for guidance. There was no favorite. There was no “best.” There’s a string of memories and each is unique. Picking a favorite is nebulous swipes at a pinata.

We had seen…I don’t know how to describe what we saw besides what I’ve already written. Over and over we encountered kindness. Rarely, we met people who needed a lesson in empathy. But for the most part? We trusted that things would work out, that people would point us in the right direction, and that people are good. It did; they did; they are.

For the second time in two years, Jim and I turned off the noise and drove, and it was, again, the best time of our lives.

So far.

I hope you enjoyed reading Two Lane Gems, Vol. 2! I have a few in stock if you’d like an autographed copy: