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Entry date: 6-19-2022 - Trip log - part two - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

It took me a couple of days to get my head around the trip we took. On one hand, it was very uneventful, which is exactly what you want on an almost 3000-mile ride. The car was awesome, and we had zero issues. Gas being as expensive as it is made it somewhat of a drag, but even then, it was cheaper than flying.

When I last wrote about our journey, we were in Highland, Illinois. I’m sure it is a nice place to live, and it was actually kind of pretty, but it did really remind me of Beaumont, the fictional town in Footloose. I couldn’t help but think of John Lithgow’s Reverend Shaw Moore judging my purchase of a completely unremarkable local IPA at the Circle K down the street from our hotel. He would have been so disappointed in me and probably wondered how I might corrupt his flock if I wasn’t leaving first thing in the morning.

We got out of there pretty darn early, only stopping again at the Circle K to gas up. We drove for about 90 minutes, listening to Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes while we drove. I enjoyed the audio book quite a bit and even though I liked the television version very much, I thought the differences in the two versions were pretty cool.

I’ve been listening to Rhondi’s audiobooks a bit and I’m just as focused on how the story is told as I am on the story itself. As I inch closer to fully committing myself to a book of my own, I’m even more curious as to how authors do what they do. Usually, I get too wrapped up in the story to pay attention to how they tell the story.

We stopped, though, in Terre Haute, Indiana (state seven if you’re keeping score) and went to the place of Bailey’s first dump last year. Guess what? She went to the same place on the corner and took another one. This was dump number two on the trip, but she seemed to be pleased to return to the scene of last year’s triumph.

I helped a guy find his phone and told a nice lady her dress was pretty before we took off towards Indianapolis. It was hot and humid in Indiana, for sure, and it was nice to get going. We took a small detour into the suburbs of Indianapolis to find a Trader Joes. I had forgotten my favorite shampoo in the Amarillo motel, so I needed to get some more, and I had never been in Indianapolis other than to drive through.

It is a pretty area, for sure, and the people in Trader Joes seemed just like the people in Trader Joes in Phoenix. The workers were friendly, though, and I got my shampoo, some body wash, a six pack of a local Blood Orange Blonde Ale for Rhondi, and some dog treats for Bailey. Liam saw a Popeye’s as we were driving in and decided he really needed a chicken sandwich, but the route out of town did not take us back by the Popeye’s.

We stopped at Costco for gas (not cheaper than the prices we saw in Texas and Oklahoma, but a bit cheaper than the other gas stations) and headed for Cleveland. Traffic in Indianapolis was pretty light as it was around 10am when we there so we got out easy and enjoyed the sights as we did.

Just like last year, we got into some traffic about 45 minutes east of Indianapolis. Dad and I sat there for a while in 2021 and this year, there was a semi that got itself into trouble causing both directions to be backed up for a couple of slow miles. We got into Ohio and found a Popeye’s just outside of Dayton in Springfield, so Liam got his sandwich.

In fact, we all got sandwiches and damn, that spicy chicken from Popeye’s is really tasty. Liam made a comment that so far, the chicken sandwich was his favorite thing about the trip, and we all laughed at how sad and ridiculous that was considering all of the beautiful countryside we had seen. That kid is funny sometimes.

I have to say that Liam and Teresa were troopers as we drove across country. We were all pretty cramped up as we brought a ton of stuff to Rhondi and had our own gear and luggage and such and a dog, but they didn’t complain. I love them for that, and I don’t think they probably realize how worried I was that they would hate it.

We drove through Ohio and made our way to Cousin Cindy’s house, which was on the east side of the greater Cleveland area. She and her husband, Jim, were kind enough to host us for a couple of nights and it was awesome to hang out with them. It was also nice to take a rest after three days of long drives, too.

Their home was in a super peaceful setting, and they made us feel very comfortable from the get-go. Lots of green and trees and just room to expand out into the universe and relax. I love those types of places at this point in my life a lot more than big cities and clusters of people. Twenty years ago, I would have told you the opposite and probably said that I feel more at peace in a busy city, but not anymore. Funny how things change.

I think it was good for all of us to be around some family and the first evening we were there, we got lots of that. Cousin Mary Kay and her husband, Paul, hosted a good-sized group of our Ohio family and it was great to connect with everyone. They have a cool place, too, amongst tall trees and green grass. Bailey was living it up as several of the family brought treats for her. We sat and talked, and I drank a few Yuengling’s (which I really like) and had a great night. It was awesome to see my (great) Aunt Peg and talk to her for a while.

I have a lot more to share as the next day was very eventful, so I will pause here.

See you tomorrow.

Sunset in Highland, Illinois on Sunday, June 12.

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