I have been asked more then once how the actual trip on the road from Seattle to Pittsburgh was… so this is where I will begin my long-winded story of the events of the last three weeks…
Wednesday, July 1: We pulled out of Ballard some time (in fact oddly enough it was exactly that time) after 4:00, with Michael at the helm. I was a little anxious about hitting rush hour on I-90, but somehow we managed to miss it (like dodging a bullet). Our ride out to Spokane was fairly uneventful; at least I can’t remember any events, Michael may recall it differently. The plan to sleep in the car was thwarted by the gigundo TV being placed in the back of the Subie, along with all my large framed pieces. So we found ourselves a lovely Super 8 and called it a night.
Thursday, July 2: After a good nights sleep we hit the road bright and early in our home away from home, aka the U-Haul; Michael still behind the wheel. We did manage to drive right into Spokane morning rush hour traffic, which wasn’t too terrible other the cavernous ruts in the road along that stretch of I-90, thank heavens Michael was able to man handle the U-Haul and keep us steady. We departed WA state fairly quickly and headed up into the Rockies: Idaho? No, U da ho came and went, but that was probably because I was napping; I awoke just in time to see the Welcome to Montana sign (and not take a picture of it). I sent Robert (since Trent does not use a tele) a text to see if they could meet us at the gas station in Superior, but alas I didn’t hear from him until we were nearly to Billings. The rain came and went and came again, which was not really welcome considering the twisty turny up and down of the mountains, but again I wasn’t driving. By now you are thinking, “Geez Tirzah, why don’t you pull some weight around here”, I did offer, but Michael being the better driver stayed put. In retrospect, when he was completely burnt out the next day that probably was not the best idea, but what do you do when you realize that in hindsight. Eventually we found our way into Billings: hungry, and exhausted and not sure which route we were going to take from there we called it done and checked into a semi decent Motel 6, although I don’t recall anyone leaving a light on for us, nature sure did put on a show when rolling up the day and putting the sun to bed. We went and got some edible grub (which makes it sound unappetizing, but that’s because it was somewhat unappetizing, they didn’t even have cherry tomatoes in the salad bar), came back and scouted out routes / times, decided to stick with South Dakota and promptly fell asleep.
Friday, July 3, which also happened to be our 13th anniversary of the day we met: After taking showers which made us feel dirtier, rather then cleaner and packing up our overnight stuff we were back on the road and headed south into Wyoming. I finally put in some time behind the wheel, although not much. Fairly uneventful until we started heading east again and came across an over turned 5th wheel (thankfully no one looked to be hurt, as there were no ambulances, and the people were standing on the side of the road), we did not stop as there were already ½ dozen police and figured they had it under control, besides it isn’t like we could have done anything for them. Made our way into South Dakota and decided we didn’t want to drive far enough off course to see four big heads carved into the side of a mountain, and eventually I took over driving again, after Michael had finally had enough, and did my best. While he did a little snoozing I made the executive decision that seeing the 100s of Wall Drug’s signs was just as good as seeing Wall Drug and drove right past it. We also bypassed the Bad Lands, but ended up in our own version of bad lands when the rain came and pummeled us, at which point my love woke up and was kind enough to rescue me from the very scary driving (I could hardly see out the windshield it was raining so hard). After an absurdly long and difficult day of driving in the pouring rain and a quick anniversary kiss at the Welcome to Minnesota rest top we chose a Super 8 in Luverne as the place to stay. What I remember most about this was the lower then low couple with two little babies running around in the parking lot at 9:00 at night in the pouring rain with no shoes, full diapers screaming their heads off, and to top it off they chose a smoking room. I have many disparaging things to say about this, but will refrain from doing so here, feel free to call me if you want more juicy bits about the couple who should have stayed at the trailer park.
Saturday, July 4: While the rest of the country was waking up to the idea of celebrating freedom by eating hotdogs, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and shooting off colorful rockets… we were shackled to the U-Haul and the dream of making it to Ohio (destination: Mother in Law’s)… We crossed through Minnesota, and Wisconsin fairly quickly and easily, nothing exciting to report, in part because I spent much of it napping. We stopped for both auto and human fuel and I took over driving, finally for a significant stint, which included some horrendous traffic in Chicago and a bit of a meltdown (on both our parts), but we pulled through only to find ourselves needing gas (as in the light came on) badly. So when the GPS told us to exit for a gas station a mere ½ mile away we did. Here is where we found ourselves: Gary, Indiana (birthplace of the very recently deceased Michael Jackson), and the scariest hellhole of a miserable place I’ve EVER been.
The gas station the GPS suggested looked as if it had been torched with a Molotov cocktail and the fire put out right before the whole place fell to the ground, the next gas station seemed to be in working order, except for the first pump I pulled up to was cash only, and this is where we should have known this would not be the last of the issues in this forgotten place, so Michael maneuvered the 27’ of massiveness to another pump. Once filled up we did our best to find the way out, but there was no yellow brick road to be had: only an exit ramp that ended at the top of a giant sinkhole. So Michael used his mad dad skills and managed to back the U-Haul and trailer all the way down the 180-degree turn ramp and get us back on to the road, which sadly didn’t take us anywhere, and again we found ourselves turning around, thankfully we were able to actually turn around and didn’t have to back up. Having faith in the GPS led us to the next on-ramp choice, but Michael being savvy to the ways of Gary, Indiana’s construction zones realized this too was not a likely exit, and got us turned around one last time, at which point we asked a homeless man where might we find the exit, who pointed to the one we just left and decided to just keep heading east, and eventually maybe we would find our way to the turnpike. We were right, after ½ an hour of driving through and around a burnt down, run down, sad little place of a town we found our way back on the interstate, and immediately passed a service plaza a mere 2 miles past where we had exited in the first place and probably could have made it to before our little adventure in the sorriest place in America. Oh well.
Of course by the time we were back on I-80 and realized we had just escaped with our lives, we realized we weren’t going to have enough energy to go the next six hours it would take to get to OH, and we chose the Home of the Fighting Irish (South Bend, Indiana) as our destination for the evening. Staying with the pattern of Super 8, Motel 6, Super 8… we stayed at the you guessed it: Motel 6; which was right next door to the fireworks store. Thankfully we were all so beat that even Poppy only barked once or twice and then it was off to the Land of Nod for all of us, despite the fireworks going off well into the morning hours all around us.
Sunday, July 5: Awaking to the knowledge that we would most certainly be making it into the arms of family on this day, we departed with renewed energy. It was a fairly low-key drive and thankfully the only tolls involved cash. We arrived in the early evening to brothers, and in-laws and lots of love. Poppy met some of her canine cousins at Nana Rita’s and enjoyed the big grassy yard in the back, she stretched out her little legs and did lots of running this way and that.
While we hadn't exactly arrived at our final destination, we were close enough for the moment, and it meant we would no longer be spending hours upon hours by ourselves in a very large moving contraption with no end in sight. Thankfully I was blissfully ignorant of the uncertainty, discomfort, and discombobulation that was lurking around the corner....