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!
I glared at the dumpster as rain attacked the windshield. This is NOT how I wanted to start our Epic Road Trip. Parked in the lot of a 7-Eleven, staring at a big green hunk of carnage-carrying metal while the wipers slapped and sloshed. We hadn’t driven more than two miles before we had to pull over because Mother Nature decided to have a crying jag. Not just any crying. She was weeping her ever-loving-eyes out like a mid-80s Duran Duran fan who just heard the band had split up. THAT kind of crying.
Our exit to I-90 was close enough to smell the I-Pass. I obsessively checked radar and waited. Glared some more. Took a deep breath. Remembered that, even though we were already seven hours behind schedule, we were going to be traveling thousands of miles over the course of more than a month, and a delay of another few minutes, even another few hours, wouldn’t matter much in the scheme of things.
It was the second-to-last day of May and my husband, Jim, and I had put everything in storage. We’d timed our road trip to coincide with the end of our lease. No rent = more money to spend on things like gas, places to sleep, and food. We had no idea where we would live when we returned, and for the most part we successfully blocked that uncertainty from our thoughts. That’s fairly easy to do when the prospect of a month-long road trip is your reality.
Our loose – very loose – route was to drive until we hit the Pacific Ocean, and then turn around and come back. We had several destinations in mind and had plans to meet lots of Jim’s family, but most of the itinerary was just points plotted on a map. A National Park here, a Scenic Byway there, a cattle ranch, horses, a beach, alpacas, a mountain cabin on a lake and my husband’s boyhood home.
We had no place to live when we returned, on purpose, and were going on a road trip with very little planned. On purpose.
Who was I and what had I done with control-freak me?
I knew I was out of my comfort zone, but I figured hey – I’d survived the relative lack of planning on our last cross-country trip. In fact, I’d experienced things I never would have if I’d been Ms. Dotted-I-Crossed-T, so why not go for gold and put it all in fate’s hands? The no-home thing was a bit of a stretch, but I knew we’d make it work.
Our first destination was one of the few I had scheduled with precision. I’d learned there was a UNESCO City of Literature a few hours away so I reached out to their visitors bureau, and they came back with an index of activities for us to experience. We were supposed to arrive early afternoon, go for a bike ride, explore the Literary Walk, have a nice dinner followed by a relaxing night at our historic inn and then leave early the next day.
The wipers slapped and I glared. Early afternoon had long ago passed. I’d planned one day. One. I’d already miscalculated how long closing up our apartment and packing for this trip would take. When we were supposed to be reading quotes from literary giants embedded in a sidewalk, I had been racing to the bike store to get an adapter bar for my ladies Schwinn so we could carry it however many thousands of miles we’d be traveling. It was already 4 p.m. and here I was constantly refreshing the weather app and willing with all my might for those storm clouds to stop dumping their angst.
And then, the sky lightened, the rain lessened. Angels sang and Mother Nature dried her eyes.
We were on our way.