Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Road Trip

Like most every kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I spent countless hours crammed in the back of our family vehicle, fighting with my brother on the way to our annual vacation. We had a cooler full of cokes and sweet tea and baloney and cheese, a loaf of Wonder Bread, a bag of Ruffles and a pack of Oreos. My parents were lucky to have boys who were willing to pee on the side of the road and a girl with a bladder of steel, and we rarely stopped.

It was a rolling party.

So it is with great nostalgia that I jump at any chance to take a road trip. I feel guilty for air pollution and annoyed with gas prices for all of about five minutes, then I pack up the cooler and set the cruise control and just drive.

With Katie in Arizona, it seemed like the perfect time for the little ones and I to go on a road trip to visit our friends J & M, who moved to a suburb of Atlanta. We packed up a ridiculous amount of shit for a 3 day trip, and headed out Monday morning. The drive was without incident, the kids were fantastic, and we had a wonderful time. My friend M- is the most gracious hostess, they made us feel so at home, their children played so well with Julia, and she never once complained as Henry redecorated her lovely home.

They're a family of vegetarians, so I joked with the Husband that I was packing the cooler full of meat, so I could sneak out in the middle of the night and gnaw on it. But our first night there, M- made these really delicious wraps, so I figured I'd survive the trip.*

I wish I could tell you that something crazy happened, or that someone pooped in their pants at least, but no such luck. It was all perfectly pleasant and with rare exception (a baby who refused to go to bed and a pissed off bunch of wasps), all went well. I did trip and fall on my ass in the pool having a Rescue 911 moment with Henry, who was in no imminent danger, but no one was there to witness it but M-. So disappointing.

Driving back is always so much different that driving there. Driving there, I'm always so excited, anticipating the destination, and noticing every little thing along the way. Driving home, I just want to get home. Suddenly, Georgia just sucked. It seemed so much hotter and humid than North Carolina. South Carolina was equally craptastic - bad roads, scraggly vegetation. Lake Hartwell, which on the way down elicited such wonderful memories of a dear friend, just looked so freaking big, and took forever to cross. On the way down, I had pointed out the giant peach of Gaffney to Julia, who noted that it looked just like a butt. On the way back, I realized she was right - it was assy.

Then we crossed the state line into North Carolina, and everything changed. We may not do everything right in this state, but our roadside landscaping is nothing short of spectacular. Coming up I-85 into North Carolina, the road is flanked by lush, old growth trees in every shade of green - maples and beech and pine and the oaks, pine and willow and pin and southern red. Magnolias. The dogwood, our state tree, and the dime a dozen crepe myrtles. Huge, symmetrical floral plantings, day lilies are in all their glory now. Every inch of available space has been filled by a tree or shrub or flower and you can't help but feel like you're driving in the middle of a forest. It is breathtaking.

And just when you think that North Carolina may very well be the prettiest place you've ever seen, Kings Mountain comes into view and seals the deal. I-85 is a short shot through Cleveland County, where I caught 321 and headed north -Gaston, Lincoln, Catawba - until I-40 comes into view in Hickory, and I'm in the home stretch. I blow through Iredell County because I know that on the other side is the most beautiful place in the world; the place that makes mountains pale in comparison. On the other side is my bed and my dog and my husband. On the other side I will tuck tired babies into their own beds and be thankful for good friends and road trips, and knowing that the best part of going is always coming back. Knowing that just on the other side is -


Pictures from the fabulous Georgia Aquarium.

*I did have a footlong chili cheese coney on the way home though. Doubly meaty to make up for any I missed. 

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures! We're heading out for our 2nd girls trip to Texas next month. 16 hours. Each way. Yep. Fun times. Actually it is but once you get past Atlanta there's nothing but flatlands. Thank God for iTouches, DS's and road games! Did you hit any of the Triple D joints? I'm going to be fatter than a cow by the time I get home...