We Did It
This morning I sat on the edge of my driveway with my dog, and watched Tugs and Grumpy pull away in that little red Mazda 3. Today I don’t have hundreds of miles to travel; I don’t have knew sights to see or new places to discover. Tonight I will go to sleep in the same city I woke up in. We drove across the entire country, and now it’s all over. I stayed in my driveway a long time after the car had faded from my sight, leaning against my dog and enjoying the cool morning breeze. Relishing the bittersweet feeling of being still after being in motion for so long, I closed my eyes for a long, quiet moment. When I opened them I still knew exactly where I was. I was home.
Last night we sat around my bedroom in Maine, and holding glasses of orange juice we toasted all the things we could recall about the trip: all the sights seen, all the cities we passed through, all the people we met, all the moments that made us laugh, all the moments that made us think, all the moments we’ll remember forever. Then we raised our glasses to friendship that not even 3,000 miles of driving could not break.
This is not the conclusion; we still have more pictures to share and more stories to tell, if you care to keep on following. Just now, we won’t be telling them from the road. By tonight, we’ll all be settled back into our normal, sedentary lives. L.A. to Maine. The journey is complete.
Our adventures in the grand city of Chicago, Illinois.
We Lost the Lobster
Lawrence the Lobster was to be discovered in the Pacific, stranded there by a storm, heartbroken by the idea he would never see his family again. But alas! us college kids would stumble across his reddish, shelled self, and return him to the Atlantic we would!
So, we borrowed Lawrence (in all his red plastic glory) from Grumple’s roommate, packed him in a suitcase, and flew him across the states. —What, you thought we’d actually find a lobster in the Pacific? Well, maybe we could have. But we weren’t going to bank on it. So, anyway, we went to the beach in California and with a bit of movie magic, Lawrence appeared while we playing in the waves! The poor guy was desperate, so we decided to bring him home!
And then we lost him in the sand on the beach, and we didn’t even notice his absence until we prepared to roll out of that driveway in Laguna Niguel.
Des Moines, IA
While passing through Iowa we were fortunate enough to stay with my grandfather, GIII, and his dog Maggie. He was a gracious host and served us a true Iowan dinner - burgers and corn on the cob. I was in charge of making the corn on the cob and flubbed up setting the timer, but GIII came to the rescue and saved the corn from certain destruction. We also got to see my aunt Nancy, and GIII took us on a tour of the downtown Des Moines sculpture garden.
GIII was a fantastic host and we really appreciate his hospitality. After our stay we headed off to Chicago fully rested, a glad departure from Motel Mazda they day before.
Des Moines, IA with GIII.
Before that horrid night we spent in the car (which I did NOT want to do in the first place), we had the luxury of staying two nights with my aunt in Denver. We were completely spoiled with much food and comfort. We each had our own beds that were at least full-sized and we were able to do our laundry.
I took Grumpy and Stache to Elitch Gardens, an amusement park. We first went on a swinging ride that went in slow circles. Then we went on the MindEraser, a roller coaster. It really did shake your head. Grumps and I went on the Tower of Doom, where I heard him yell for the first time. It was a great ride, where you were going down a tower at top speed. But the best ride there, in my opinion, was the XLR8R. It was a giant swing that I convinced my friends to go on with me. We put on these great, short, padded dresses for the ride. Stache and I wore blue, but Grumps wore red (because, in Stache’s opinion, he is fat).
We get our directions from the worker, and walk out onto the tarred arena. We step onto this small platform, and it rises several feet. The people who had gone before us were hanging there from their bungie cord, and we waited on the other side of the platform while the workers took them down. Now it was our turn. We switch places with the others, and then the workers attach us to the bungie cord. The cord lifts us up until we are parallel with the platform and then the platform, along with the people, go back to the ground. As they start raising us up, Grumpy says, “That’s good. We’re high enough.” But the cord keeps raising us up. When we stop, I hear a worker say, “1, 2, 3, Fly!” Stache swears that there was a pause, but I rip the cord and we go free-falling! Down we go, closer and closer to the ground, and I scream from the feeling. Grumpy and Stache say my name along with some blasphemies. Before we hit the ground, we swing up and do a smaller free-fall the other way. I am having a blast. I like to think the other two were too. We keep swinging back and forth, smaller and smaller swings, until a worker holds out a stick with a loop at the end and we grab the loop. The ride is over.
Now we are the ones hanging from the cord as the new riders are rising to us on the platform. They ask us how it is. I immediately smile and say, “It was awesome!” Grumpy and Stache try to warn them with their looks about how much fun it was. We get to the ground, and poor Stache is shaking, but glad that it was over. We see the new riders swing about us, and I catch one saying “Holy ****!” It is one great ride.
Afterwards, Stache and I purchase Dippin’ Dots. Grumpy and Stache could not get over that ride! I was so glad they were able to go on it with me. We then went on an observation tower and took pictures of the views of the park and of Denver.
That night, we had sushi. Sake was a bad idea, because I ended up with altitude sickness and had to sleep while Stache and Grumps watched a movie. I slept from 8:30 to 8:30. The next morning, we went to a AM dinery called Snooze. Grumpy thought initially that it was Snu’s, but was corrected immediately. They have the BEST food. Stache and Grumpy said it was the best pancakes they had ever had. I had the best eggs benedict, entitled Ham Benedict III. That afternoon we were off again after being ditched by Fluffles, who is no longer on our good side.
As we drove through Nebraska, I looked out at the plains. They were beautiful. There was yellow-green grass up against brown soil that has a violet hue. They were just glowing. But there were a LOT of plains, and this was boring rather quickly. While driving through flat Nebraska, Grumpy comes up with this theory about our tastes in music. He says that he is in a hipster basement, while I am a 50s jukebox. I disagree with his analysis (I have no 50s music on my ipod), but he never listens to me anyway. Like, when I didn’t want to sleep in the car. But they outvoted me. Rats, bats, and fats.
So, one thing that you’re supposed to do on a road trip is sleep in the car. Taps was against the idea, but Grumps and I were all for it. It’s just one of those things that seemed natural to do, like cruising along down the freeway with the windows down and the sun shining and the radio tuned into a local station that doesn’t come in too well but plays all the classics. The scene was Saturday, 11:30 pm, we’d been on the road out of Denver for a bit over five hours, conversation had ceased miles before, and we’d only made it to Middle of Nowhere, Nebraska. So, we pulled into a rest stop, rearranged the car and ourselves, and fell into a blissful slumber.
Except, what really happened is that we folded down the back seats and laid down all elbowing and kicking each other, and then unable to straighten our legs or find ways to position our bodies where nothing hurt we settled down into miserable, sleepless silence for about an hour. Then came a moment when I looked over at Grumpy, and he made a gesture with his hands that clearly meant “Why God, why?” and I shook my head with a sigh, and then Tugs woke up, and then there was laughter only because screaming in agony was not appropriate at the moment.