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Entry date: 10-30-2022 - Trip Notes part 5 - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Happy Sunday. Thank you for being here today and reading this blog. Almost ten months down. Hard to believe. 300,000-ish words. I’m guessing the word “really” has been almost 50,000 of them. Habits are hard.

I want to finish up writing about the trip. In many ways, it was a big one for me. First of all, it was awesome to get to spend almost a week with Mark. I don’t remember the last time we got to see so much of each other. Probably twenty years or so ago when we went to New Orleans. It was amazing to get to soak up his vibe.

I’ve grown to love the drive. To some, that might seem weird, but I really do enjoy it. I like the act of moving through the world, even at the pace of a car ride. It’s not the most sustainable habit in the world, with gas prices and the wear and tear on a vehicle, and such, but I love it. I am not certain Bailey loves it when it is just her and I. I think she prefers to have another person in the car.

Spending two and a half days on the road by myself was interesting. I tried writing by dictating into my tablet, but the transcription service I use is not great by any stretch of the imagination. I think it was useful to a degree, but it almost makes more work trying to figure out some of the things that I was saying.

I missed getting to see the country through someone else’s lens, too. Talking about the countryside brings it to life so much more clearly. I’m already getting a bit dim on the details of certain areas that I passed through. I realize the drive from Illinois to Phoenix is not the most exciting one with the route I took, but I did want to play it safe with the weather.

It was bittersweet leaving the farm on Wednesday the 19th of October. We all go back so far that it is hard to say goodbye. These are my brothers and each of my brothers’ wives is a sister. We are getting to an age where I start to be worried that it might be the last time we are together or able to be together in a way that feels like it did when we were younger.

My worrying is well established and I’m the first person to say now, thanks to Rhondi, that it is useless to worry about things you have little control over, but still. Looking back, I realize that things are different now. We weren’t on a mission to destroy our braincells with booze. That is sort of rare. Having been the sober guy in the group, I understand how hard it is to be around your friends and want to party with them. I’m glad we are mature enough now to know that having a good time does not mean you have to get wasted.

I had some coffee with my friends before heading out and it was nice. Bailey and I were gassed up and got on the road to Iowa. I had never been in that state before, so I was kind of excited about it. This excitement passed quickly, though, because of two incidents.

The first was Bailey trying to kill us.

Something was bothering her. Maybe it was leaving another friend, Osa, or maybe it was being in the car alone with me. Either way, not long after we got into Iowa, she decided she needed to be on my lap while I was driving in Wednesday morning traffic.

It’s not like there was a ton of traffic, but there was enough. This wasn’t a huge deal until she pulled a crazy maneuver and got under the steering wheel between my feet on the floorboard. She moved so fast there was nothing I could do that wouldn’t have swung me into another lane. Once she got down there, she promptly sat on the brake pedal and the car stopped.

Luckily there was no one behind me or we would have been rearended and definitely at fault. I lost my mind a bit and probably said things to her that no one should ever say to a dog. It scared the fuck out of me. This is how I lose my cool, usually, when something scares me. I can handle a lot, but I hate being scared like that.

I had to pull over to the side of the road and get her in the back seat again. Not long after that, I got pulled over by a nice state trooper. This is where I learned that we had not registered Rhondi’s car back in May. I’d driven across the country, all over New England, and over halfway back with expired registration. Officer P (I won’t use his whole name) was sympathetic and we ended up having a long conversation about Maine, but I still got a $135 ticket.

I’m sure it could have been worse. He could have got me for speeding, too, but gave me a warning. I feel fortunate and will remember that as I am remitting payment to Iowa.

We made our way down through a bit of Missouri, which I hadn’t expected, and into Kansas. I kept looking for exits that would lead to places where my relatives live there. I had a little time and could have stopped and said hello to someone, maybe, but I didn’t see any signs. I kind of wanted to go through Atchison where my great Aunt Louise was the caretaker of Amelia Earhart’s birthplace, but that will have to happen another time.

Kansas is full of small towns. That makes it way more interesting than some of the other super flat places I have driven through. They all kind of look the same, but since I have so many relatives there, it was interesting to me.

I got to Wichita and the real fun began.

See you tomorrow.

It was hard to leave this place. I really like it.

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