The long and whining road

lnd_651d2237-810b-4d82-97bc-ef9a89c7ddda-1The title is with apologies to the Beatles. While our trip in the US thus far has mostly been lovely, we’ve had a few bumps along the way. Just to make sure that I haven’t fallen into the trap of making our lives sound perfect, this post will basically function as the blooper reel for our travels.

Blooper one actually occurred in Austin, even though we haven’t gotten there yet. We carried two large bags across the ocean, one of which was filled with items we were taking back to Texas. While visiting Jane and JJ in Cleveland, one of us (apparently we’re both prone to taking the blame, so we can’t agree who) had the bright idea of shipping the Texas suitcase to friends in Austin. The shipping fee was less than the bag fees for hauling it on our road trip, and we’d have to do less schlepping. The theory was pretty good, but the execution left a lot to be desired. In short, UPS claims that the suitcase was delivered, but it never arrived at our friends’ place. Gone, I take it, are the dress I wore to Jane and JJ’s wedding, one of Mark’s suits, our best laptop, a pie knife I’d bought at a Paris flea market that matches our flatware, an embroidered table runner from Madeira, two rocks from a Mediterranean beach brought for a friend who collects rocks from different places, and other items. I’m trying to think of it as involuntary decluttering.

Then there’s the saga of the hotel in, I think, South Dakota. We arrived late at our hotel, where it was obviously amateur night at the front desk. As you can see from the key folder pictured here, we didn’t end up in the first room to which we were assigned. That room’s electronic lock wouldn’t unlock, despite new batteries and lots of fiddling around by a well-intentioned but truly puzzled IT guy. The hotel then assigned us to room 417. Hallelujah – except there was a startled guy in red boxers already in there. Thank God for the boxers is all I can say. We slogged back to the front desk and informed them that the current occupant was disinclined to share. The woman at the front desk the reassigned us to yet another room, which I’m happy to say the IT guy checked before we hauled our bags around again. It, too, was already occupied. Finally, by the grace of God, sheer luck, or whatever other force you may wish to ascribe this occurrence to, we were assigned to a room that actually had no one else in it. After a little negotiating, which started with an offer from the hotel of a free bottle of water, we ended up staying for free that night.

And then there are the highways that run in directions that only a character from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 could love. At one point in our ramblings we drove on North IH 35 West. That probably makes sense to somebody, but not to me. And we drove 45 minutes out of Fargo towards Minnesota and then stopped for gas. The signage doing what could loosely be termed “guiding” us back onto the highway was so bad that we ended up back in Fargo. No wonder Facebook keeps showing articles about how Google maps directs people into fields in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere appears to be everywhere!

In fairness, I’m fully aware that our problems are minute in comparison to those endured by many. The kids in the #TrumpCamps, for example, would be thrilled to have their accommodations be as good as ours and our journey as smooth as ours. And as for the suitcase, it’s just stuff. Some of it was stuff we care about, but it’s still just stuff. We’ve seen our amazing kids, seen a lot of fun baseball, hung out with dear friends, and visited the last of our 50 states. (N.B. The award for the most random national monument goes to Mount Rushmore. Who looks at a mountain range and says, “I think I’ll carve the heads of presidents on that”?) So perhaps I should switch from the Beatles to Sheryl Crow. Every day is a winding road, indeed. And tomorrow we wind to Austin! Here’s hoping we have no addenda to this post.



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