Wow! What an adventure!!! I just returned from a wonderful whirlwind around the USA… and I can’t wait to tell you about it.
Driving my daughter’s car from my home in New Jersey, to her new one in San Diego, California was a blast. Since it is winter, I chose to drive the southern route, taking my time and visiting friends and family along the way. Sending out a message on Facebook rewarded me with numerous places to stay along my route. HOWEVER… most of the travel was the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, sooooooo… everyone who offered a place, wasn’t home. They were doing their own holiday traveling.
Hotels abound and there was never a shortage. The first night I decided to use a hotel coupon you find in those handouts at the rest stops. THEY WORK! I nabbed a really nice room in Virginia for a deep discount. My new mission was to see how little I could spend on the nicest room. All in all… I got the best deals and nicest place at The Sleep Inns. Really! Who would have thought? It’s not like I was on a luxurious vacation or anything. No, I just needed a clean, comfortable, safe place to get a solid 8 hours and a hot shower. The fact they had FREE wi-fi and decent offerings at breakfast were only icing on the cake. I signed up for their rewards program and began racking up points for a FREE night in the future.
I stopped in little towns and visited local bookstores, and of course while in Nashville I couldn’t resist shopping in McKay’s. If you haven’t been there yet… make the trip!! There’s one in Knoxville too. What is McKay’s???? Why it’s only the LARGEST bookstore I have ever been in with a ‘buy back’ program. If I were younger, I would start one in New Jersey!!! McKay’s is my mecca! Yes, I bought some books.
My most favorite stop along the way was visiting the Stockyard in Oklahoma City. I arrived too late in the evening to dine at The Cattleman’s Café… so went for breakfast instead. Hearing this place had THE BEST steaks… I ordered Steak and Eggs. WOW! Delicious! There’s nothing better than a perfectly cooked juicy steak, no matter what time of day. The café was filled with real Cowboys, wearing big hats, well-worn cowboy boots and belts with gigantic buckles. Listening to their accents made me giggle.
After my hearty and very filling breakfast, I moseyed (is that a word?) on down to the weekly cattle auction. Cattlemen were bidding so fast I couldn’t keep track. Was it in poor taste for me to arrive at the auction with steak on my breath?? I’m certain all the cattle smelled it. Perhaps I should have eaten AFTER the auction.
I spent some time in the town too. I tried on a pair of real honest to goodness cowboy boots, and as much as I loved them and should have splurged… common sense reared it’s ugly head. I realized I would most likely only wear them once or twice a year. Not a prudent purchase. The same logic was used in the hat department. Although one guy DID say I looked good in my favorite and offered to purchase it for me… but I declined, thinking the price in the end would probably have been more than I was willing to pay (if you catch my drift). I asked about the belts, and was directed to the woman’s department. Whoa! The bling was blinding! Uh… no, no belt for me either.
Next I walked past the tumbleweeds and down a dusty street and entered the National Saddle store. THIS is where the cowboys purchase their spurs and lassoes!!! Exciting!!! An employee instructed me on the fine points of roping a calf… then let me ‘have at it’ on the store display. RINGER! I lassoed a bull! Obviously I’m a natural.
Driving through rural America is really a sight to behold. I was in awe at some of the views. Heading west meant I had a front row seat of the most amazing sunsets. There were so many photo opportunities, but I couldn’t take advantage of them. Speeding down the highway at 70 mph (OK… 80… er… 85) doesn’t allow for much picture-taking. If I pulled over to snap a few, I’d still be on the road today. There was just so much to see!
Well… as I’m sure you’ve heard… The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray. The second part of this journey was to cross another item off my bucket list… driving the Pacific Coast Highway; however I changed course. The opportunity to visit a few high school classmates arose, all on different days, and all inland, away from the scenic highway. My schedule didn’t allow me the luxury of being able to do everything. I had to make a decision… Pacific Coast Highway, or visit friends. It really was a ‘no brainer’. Friends win over driving a highway, no matter how beautiful, every time!
Visiting with friends, old and new is such a joy. Eating lunch, enjoying each other’s company, remembering old times, learning about their new experiences, is soooo rewarding! Even though we hardly knew each other ‘back in the day’, they are still a familiar face who shared a time and place with me… someone who helped mold me into the person I am today. Learning of their accomplishments since graduation 40 plus years ago makes me realize how lucky I am to have known them, and to be able to join them once again, if only for a brief moment.
I made the right decision.
I’m reminded of the old tried and true Girl Scout song:
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other gold.
A ring is round, it has no end.
That’s how long I want to be your friend.
Thanks to all of you who made my trip special. From family… Lauren, Kevin, Mali, Scott, and Krisa… to friends… Pat, Ned, Cyndee, Diane, Bob, and Karen, with special thanks to Jay for a lesson in the wine biz. Not to be forgotten… my email, telephone, and message buddies, Mark, Tom, HLee, Les, Rich, and Diane… for always keeping tabs on me and making sure I arrive in one piece.
There are still so many stories to tell about this trip… like meeting Karen who so generously took the time to research my family history, all the way back to the 1600’s! Or how Bob offered me the use of their comfortable guest room for 2 nights! Driving through a blizzard in Phoenix! Having an oil change in Flagstaff. Tax free shopping on the naval base. Getting fogged in at San Francisco airport and making the Seattle news… burning off fuel over PA so as not to explode while landing in NJ, spending New Year’s Eve with my daughter and son-in-law in CA and being able to go to bed at 9pm, discovering the harbor in San Diego, eating cookies… lots and lots of cookies, teaching my soon to be daughter-in-law how to use her new sewing machine, shopping on Cedros Ave, photographing the Pasadena City Hall, eating my way around Seattle… and on and on and on. Hey, let’s get together some day and share stories!