If you’ve been following our love story, you will have noticed sprinkled allusions to Wyoming, the roadtrip, the breakdown, etc.
Are you ready? All buckled up?
This is it.
The Road Trip. Or, as we like to call it, “3,000 miles to Jack-in-the-Box.”
A story like this needs to be broken up into several parts. With photos. And snack breaks. Probably a nap or two. We’ll organize things as follows:
I like to think of this arc as the pinnacle, the pivotal plot point, the climax of our story. It’s actually not, but we’ll pretend for now.
I am some strange mish mosh of quiet, content homebody, and crazy restless adventurer. Starting back in my teenaged years, I developed a passion and an undeniable draw to the romance of the open road. The motion, the movement, that sense of pushing, pushing the road past; I was obsessed. I clung to the idea that I was getting away from here, wherever here was, and that I was going somewhere, wherever where was.
So, that fateful day in Hallmark commercial studio, when Drew approached me, crazy idea in hand, I was hooked. Yes, I thought. Anywhere but here. Add a cute boy to the equation, and I had found myself a screamin’ deal.
The end of June ‘10 had arrived. We packed up all of our earthly belongings, mercilessly stuffed them into/onto Drew’s Subaru Legacy, bid adieu to some of the finest people we’d ever met, and hit the road.
The plan was to drive across this good ol’ country of ours, east coast to (almost) west. Massachusetts to Phoenix. We began in Miller’s Falls. Drove south through Connecticut. Into Pennsylvania. Then, at some point in Pennsylvania (which is way larger than you’d think), we completely changed our minds and decided to go north to Washington instead. The plan was to make it out to my home state by July 4th, to take part in the festivities. We had almost a week to accomplish this. Easy enough, right? We headed toward I-90, and things started getting interesting.
It began pouring down rain.
I know, I know. Rain isn’t that dramatic. But you must understand that when I say pouring, I don’t mean raining. I mean, Good Lord, someone up there must be draining out the bathtub, because I can’t see 3 inches in front of me pouring.
I mean, we could see our own world perfectly reflected in the roadway because there was so much water on it, pouring.
The Subaru started to overheat. We pulled over on some desolate stretch of Pennsylvania highway and poured the first of what would be an inordinate amount of coolant into the engine. You know that stomach knot that forms when inevitable doom approaches? See here, the first flutterings. On the other hand, those may have been because we were pulled over right at the gaping maw of a menacing copse of trees, and I was having visions of roadside hobos (if it can happen in Vermont, it can happen anywhere).
Flashback: when we took the car in for its pre-road trip tune up, I, in all my haughty cleverness, made some slight about how the car probably wouldn’t make it all the way across the country. Open mouth. Insert foot. Close mouth.
We drove on.
The first night passed slowly. You never quite understand the void of nothingness until you’ve taken a 2am-5am driving shift through the middle of nowhere, while your partner snores peacefully in the passenger seat. We finally made it through Pennsylvania and into Ohio, just as the sun awoke. We stopped, ate some nondescript breakfast, and somehow found the energy to continue on, mostly fueled by an all consuming desire to get off the east coast.
Next up? Indiana. Here’s where we started to notice an interesting trend: the further west we drove, the nicer people got. Small changes, slight differences, but it becomes apparent when you frequent the gas stations, fast food joints, and rest stops of the world. We felt encouraged, we must be on the right track.
Turns out, Indiana is home to a lot of corn. Which is fine. Boring, even... until you get to drive through fields of it in the pouring rain, with lightning striking all around you. Then it becomes epic. Well done, Indiana, you made corn epic.
Illinois yielded much of the same, including more storms. Wisconsin yielded our first trip to a Piggly Wiggly (ironically, an item on my list of things to accomplish in life), a whole lot of heat, and my first in-car sunburn. Minnesota showed us a whole lot of kindness, especially from the pseudo Canadian accent sporting residents, one of whom worked at McDonalds, and gave us free pie. The sun set on our second day, driving through Minnesota farmland.
That night, as Drew slept, we entered South Dakota. Or should I say, South. Dakota. The gentle hills and rolling fields grew up into dark, menacing mountains, then dropped completely away. Things began to feel empty, and, if we’re being honest, creepy. Exhaustion took over, and we stopped for the night. Now, if we had been normal people, who had things like sensibility and money, we would have grabbed a motel. Sporting neither of those, we pulled into a rest stop and slept, crunched in our seats, slouched against the windows, and ungracefully draped across the front, with the e-brake relentlessly digging into places it really didn’t belong.
The night passed. The day dawned. And sh*t hit the fan.