The call finally came. Buster Lewis is ready for action.
I was back on the road by 11AM today with a mission: to travel the remaining 1300 or so miles by 3pm tomorrow, so I could surprise my mother by showing up at our annual Family Picnic. The Family Picnic is a meet up of a couple hundred members of the Corbin clan (my grandmother was a Corbin), and it was always one of the highlights of my summer until I moved away. Now, I haven't been in probably over 15 years.
1300 miles in a day is a lot, maybe not for a long-haul trucker, but for me. I made it about 800 miles, with one little nap in a supermarket parking lot. At that point, I would have arrived at the Picnic at 5pm, and my brother informed me they were planning to leave there at 2 to miss the beach traffic. So... knowing I was going to miss the target anyway, I decided to go see Gabe and Kevin.
My original east coast destination, the farm owned by my friends Kevin and Gabe is located in Worcester, New York, a tiny mountain town I had lived in briefly in my late teens. Gabe and Kevin are fairly recent L.A. transplants to the area: they bought the house and acreage there without having the slightest idea I had any connection to it. I had originally been planning to live in the bus on their property, before my mother became suddenly anxious to have me home with her. I talk to Gabe often as he goes through the tribulations of renovating a house that has turned out to be way more of a project than he could have ever dreamed. He is one of very few people I know who works more and harder than me.
The GPS (God, why am I still listening to this thing??) told me a brief stop would only add about 45 minutes' worth of driving time to the trip, so I figured why not? Of course, there's that old saying about the best laid plans of mice and men? Add women to that list, too.
Though I'd gotten a one hour and 22 minute ETA from the rest stop on I-90 (notice I am trying very hard not to say "THE 90" because I know it will be ridiculed where I'm going), that switched very soon. Google directed me to get off in Mohawk, which I did, and then it proceeded to lead me up hills, down valleys, through extreme elevations, and soon the ETA, though I'd been driving 45 minutes, was an hour and a half. Google Maps does it to me again! I couldn't even really overrule it because I don't know how to get to their house. Later I discovered they are just minutes off Route 88, so there's really no reason to have gone through all those contortions to get to the farm. More proof that my smart phone is out to get me. Still, if that's the worst calamity of the day, it's the best day of the trip so far.
I did arrive eventually, and it was great to see in person all the terrific work Gabriel has been doing on their house. We went to dinner at the Worcester Inn, which was kind of like jumping in the way-back machine for me, and then I crashed on the sofa in Gabe and Kevin's RV, which is their temporary home while the house is being completed.
My plan is to get up super early and complete the drive before noon. I've only got about 3 hours left. My mother doesn't know I'm coming (well, she knows I'm coming sometime but not that it's tomorrow), so it will be fun to surprise her.
To recap, this extra long "driving day" brought me out of Iowa, and through the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. There was no real catastrophic event this time. In fact, something happened that was almost miraculous. A friend of mine from Boston happened to be traveling on I-80 near Chicago on her way to South Dakota when she noticed a short blue school bus traveling in the opposite direction! Yes, I was spotted by an east coast friend, on what was a one-of-a-kind road trip for each of us, right in the middle of the country. How likely is that? It made me think about the fact that we are all probably in the orbit of people we know more often than we think, and the only reason we don't notice is that most people aren't driving what is essentially a rolling aqua house. I am incredibly easy to spot.
The next blog you see will, hopefully, be the one where I arrive in Massachusetts. That is, barring a daily disaster, but it seems like that cycle may have been broken. Knocking on wood right now.