Video courtesy of NPS
First, I would like to say that I apologize for this posting being a month in the making. Life has happened and from this moment on, I shall return to posting the blog entries for each day of the trip and the life has happened moments in between. Today couldn't be a better day to get back on board because it is officially the 100th birthday of the National Park Service (NPS). Check out their website to see what they are up to, including free free admission to all 412 national parks from August 25 through August 28. NPS
SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2016
The plan was to leave early. Very early. If I remember correctly, I think Thomas suggested before sunrise. I said ok but I was already thinking, I’d rather not! We took some time to think about it and we ended up deciding to leave around 9:00 am and push the driving to the limits. Alexandria, Minnesota was our only lodging reservation and that wasn’t until Monday night. This was pretty predictable, but my nerves got the better of me at a time much earlier than I wanted to wake. Millions of things have compacted themselves into my brain, circling each other around and around, not too different from a dog chasing its tail. I got the “on my way text” from Thomas and I brought my bags upstairs and at the ready next to the door. Pause. I hate to consider myself such a “girl.” There is nothing wrong with being a girl, in fact, I love it, but I find that sometimes that can hamper my mentality of less is more. When Thomas backed his car up to mine in the driveway, my eyes and mouth were very tight while I followed his every move, back and forth. How many bags does he have, how much camera gear does he have, now how big was that drone case again? In my mind’s eye, the size of the back seat and trunk of my car were shrinking with every minute I was watching Thomas unload his. The last thing I wanted was to not be able to get everything in the car. Inside the front door of the house was my overstuffed suitcase waiting to get the green light. In my bedroom was its fractionally smaller little brother waiting to be the backup, if needed. I always think I have packed too much because I either wanted options or I am too stressed to make the decision on what to pack and therefore throw it all in there in a “what the heck” motion. Thomas was finished unloading so I went in to get the big dog so he could size it up. Now was the time to see if the decision paid off to buy a car with 4 doors (my first car with 4 doors - ever). Thank goodness we made it, with room to spare and without the little bro back up. Indeed it paid off and we left around 10:00 am with me in the driver seat.
Frostburg, Maryland was the first stop for food. Maryland is a tricky state. It is by no means big, but heading west bound takes some time. It was Subway for our meal after a quick check of the storefronts through a few immediate intersections. You never know what to expect when you walk into a place. It was midday so there were a handful of folks in there. I honestly think Subway cranks out a smoke of highly appetizing smells to lure you into buying a sandwich that is more than likely going to be all bread and a little bit of whatevers. To the right sat four young adults at a table. What was of interest to me was the demographics of the group: two black girls (one I assumed biracial but like most of America, I identified her as black), one white guy and one white girl. That is not what I expected to see as a hangout group in Frostburg, but I forgot that this is a college town and they could have easily became friends in that type of environment. We ended up eating in the car. Once I started unwrapping my sandwich, it crossed my mind that when Thomas asked if I wanted to eat in the restaurant or in the car, he may have meant that I was to drive while I was eating. That could not have been an option. Everyone knows that all the insides of a Subway sandwich end up on the outside and I was not going to get potato chip dust on my leather steering wheel cover.
Today’s journey was not much of a storytelling or picture taking adventure. It was more of a putting distance between us and home. Western Maryland is basically the same view for a while, farms, valley, mountain. During the drive, I miraculously avoided hitting a deer. Unfortunately, the people further up the road weren't as lucky. We guessed by the size and movements of the deer I avoided (yes, we are amateur animal behaviorist) that it was the child or at least relative of the one that was killed. Thomas even gave me props for my defensive driving; it could have ended an entirely different way for both us and that deer. This was not my first baby deer avoidance incident. Although completely unrelated to any project related travel, I have been in this situation before where only a matter of quick decisions and intuition had been the difference between life or death and it is a highly anxiety ridden matter of seconds.
Some hours later our second food stop was for Qdoba in Greenfield, Indiana. Like Subway, Qdoba is a safe bet for us and was predictably tasty. They have this new “Knockout Taco” action happening there which includes one called the bohemian veg. DELICIOUS. Just saying. Now that we had been in the car for an extended period of time, we ate inside and took a breather. At some point in the night the weather turned on us and it was raining for a while. Hovering over us were electric jellyfish changing the black sky to shades of purple as the rain became torrential. There were some moments where I could not see that far ahead of me and wished for even faster, non existent speed on the windshield wipers, but I pushed on and hoped for the best. By the time we reached Milwaukee we logged about 12 hours on the road and 800 miles. Crazy enough, when we checked into the hotel there was a party going on. Guests were in the lobby with balloons, dressed in their go get em’ gear of acid wash jeans and tank tops. Alright Milwaukee. I see you on a Sunday night but I was ready to hit the hay. Goodnight and party on.