Sometimes a destination is as much about the getting there as the actual destination itself. This particular destination (our recent beach trip to see my niece get married) was a joyful celebration; but the journey (the eighteen hours in one extremely small vehicle) was another thing all together! So, last week’s blog covered the destination, the beautiful beach wedding that we were able to experience; but the journey itself has a few share-worthy moments as two generations squeezed into a compact car, (that I am positive, was not built for comfort,) for this long journey! Though the trip was long, it was some of the sweetest time, as in traveling together, we continued to make discoveries each of the other. Plus, some things are just too hilarious to keep to yourself, you must share.
Our initial travel day dawned cloudy, with the distinct threat of rain for our trip southward. We were “on caravan” with my cousin and her husband. (I had to actually look up the word caravan. to make sure a two vehicle procession represented correctly… but according to good ole Merriam Webster, a caravan can be, “a group of vehicles traveling together (as in a file)” So, onward went our caravan, with my twenty-year old chauffeur sticking close, very close, extremely close, (very, extremely close!) to the back of the vehicle with the Sheriff Deputy’s star on the license plate (and in the window), as those five hundred, fifty, or so, miles zipped past us exceedingly quickly! It tried to rain on us a few times early, but once we stopped for a late-morning breakfast, the weather seemed to embrace our travels and it rained down rays of sunshine instead of spatters of moisture.
Our first ‘generation-gap learning opportunity’ came as we drove by Fort Payne, Alabama. I was more than happy to enlighten her on this city’s claim to fame. Do you know? Surely you know! She did not. I don’t think she even knew who the country group Alabama was. I educated her and entertained her with my “Bristol Drag Strip, all day, (half the night), four blankets back from the stage, not giving up our spot even during the monsoon, best concert ever during the early eighties, (which was their heyday).” She cracked up and said that she just could not visualize this for me.
Then she gave me a history lesson. Well, technically ‘she’ did not give me a history lesson, but she propagated it. I had listened to a song, here and there, from the musical “Hamilton” as I would ride with her from time to time. It is a very long musical and I figured I would probably never have a better opportunity to listen to the whole thing in one setting. So I told her that I would like to listen to it as we traveled. She was surprised, and said, “Like, the whole thing?!”
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing — the whole two-hours-plus thing! Of course, it helped greatly that she was giving me the play-by-play to introduce each new character as they appeared. It truly was a history lesson and I am amazed at the talent and creativity that the writer of this musical was able to draw upon to create such a unique picture of our founding fathers and weave in the story of Alexander Hamilton’s life at the same time. It actually made me feel a little more patriotic as it was a few days before we were to celebrate the independence of our great nation. Then I gave her the follow-on history lesson (that she said she had never learned in school) about Aaron Burr, that I remembered from my seventh grade West Virginia History class. (My teacher would be proud of me! Yes, there was some retention!)
Plus, if you want to be entertained, the next time you see Haley out, ask her this question, “Who is Alexander Hamilton?” She will immediately, pretty much without thinking, rap one of the pieces from the musical that tells about him.
As we traveled farther south toward Birmingham, I kept seeing signs toward Talladega, and Talladega Super Speedway. She then got to hear about my near-death (I am certain) experience with an Alabama State Trooper. (Hey, if you had a hulking, intimidating, imposing, mean, (well, possibly not mean,) nearly crawling in your window down your throat, (justifiably) annoyed Alabama State trooper yelling at you in your face, you would think you were ready to die also!)
The short version of the story is that my brother and I were with friends at the race in Talladega one summer. We were going to attempt to stay together in all that traffic to meet somewhere for dinner after the race. The problem was that they were nearly out of gas. It just so happens that they knew there was a gas station just ahead on the right. I was to follow them. So, once we actually got to the highway, in all of the post-race, crazy traffic, they veered off onto the median. I looked at my brother and told him I was absolutely not following him. He (somehow) convinced me that it was OK. I knew better. Oh yes, I knew better! That is one of the rules I do not break. His argument was that the gas station was just ahead on the right, probably not even a mile and a half. Yes, yes, it was. It undeniably was. What he failed to even conceive was that between us (already trapped on the median at this point by all those hateful people) and that self-same gas station, was an intersection… a very busy intersection, with three, count ’em, three, Alabama State Troopers in attendance.
My brother’s eyes widened, I was ready to panic, and he kept saying over and over, “Don’t say anything. Just don’t say anything. What ever you do, don’t sass him.” OMG! Seriously? Did he not remember who he was riding with?! I am the one that seldomly, very seldomly breaks any rules. Yet here I was… getting ready to meet my Waterloo. I had no intention of saying anything to him unless I had to. I was much too busy trying not to cry, and visualizing myself in an ugly, orange jumpsuit with my prison numbers on the back. (Plus hey people, I saw Cool Hand Luke!) If the trooper had not been so busy trying to keep multiple hundreds of vehicles moving out in an orderly manner, he probably would have written me a big, fat, hateful ticket. But as it was, he stuck his long, brown finger in my face, yelled me up one side and down the other, and back up again for good measure, and put me back on the road and told me to STAY THERE! (“I am TRYING to keep this traffic moving here PEOPLE!!”) Yea, it was beyond my niece’s ability to visualize me in that position (or the orange jump suit either!) Every time we saw an Alabama State Trooper, I had to smile.
As we were moving on along, we stopped for gas at this truck stop in southern Alabama. I handed her my debit card and she got out to get gas. Well, she was out there for the longest time and I could see that she had not gotten gas yet. (Her phone was inside the car, so she was not on it.) I opened my door and asked her if there was a problem. She could not get the pump to work for some reason. She said, “I keep removing the nozzle and it will not work. It keeps giving me the message to remove nozzle, but I am holding the nozzle in my hand.” I got out of the car and walked around to the pump to see if I could figure it out. She took the nozzle out of the tank and put it back in the pump again. The “please remove nozzle” message was still there. I laughed and told her to remove the nozzle and put it in the tank. She did this and the remove nozzle message was still there. She looked at me like, “Ah-Ha!” Then, I flipped the nozzle holder up to turn the pump on! In her four-plus years of driving, she had never encountered a gas pump where she had to manually flip the switch to turn on the gas pump. 😂 She just thought it was broken.
Our whole trip, down and back, was like this. We truly had the best time together. That is not surprising though. We seem to always enjoy each other’s company and can always find something to talk about, or if not, just hang out in silence. I love the process of learning who she is becoming as an adult person. It is amazing, fun, crazy and a bit scary to watch your child growing into a human being that has their own thoughts, opinions and goals for their life. As it is nearly time for her to head back to school, (over three hours away,) <SNIFF> <SNIFF> I will treasure the gift of those hours together, sharing and laughing and learning more about each other.
Yes, we had more fun, and funny stories during our long weekend of fun in the sun. Our “Internet rental cottage” by the beach was a hilarious adventure all on its own. I am not certain I will ever go that route again, but… it was an experience. God gives us times like these with the ones that we love. He gives us memories that we can savor for the times ahead, when those we love may, or may not be close by. We should take those memories in and store them as treasures, for that is what they are. We should also share the pieces of our lives that others may not know about with them so that they can fully come to know who we are, and so they will have those memories to sustain them when we are no longer with them.
It is a good thing to rehearse the past, and lessons learned, with those we love; but also to look forward to the future, a future that is hopefully bright and lit by the very presence of God’s light to surround us for eternity.
“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion’s fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23 ~ KJV)