Before we got into the car this morning, the boys ate pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse, said good-bye to Papa Jon, Grandma Val, cousin Anna, Dad and Demps. When Ri rolled up in the Swagger Wagon, we hopped in. It was 8:30 a.m.
The day was gorgeous and the early part of ride was wrapped in Adirondacks... falcons soared, the sky was blue.
About an hour or so in "Kai throwed up." It was Cheerios induced and luckily we had a suitcase full of clean clothes and a fresh blanket. The incident occurred right at a spot where - serendipitously - there was a pull-off (with picnic tables, even!) along the highway. Luck was on our side.
I drove till lunch, easily - a notable feat ... highway driving makes my heart flutter, my jaw tense. After PB&J sandwiches, Ri's deconstructed Edible Arrangments birthday treat and chocolate milk, we piled back in. Ri took the wheel. The boys fell asleep and I tuned the XM to Lil' Wayne.
We dropped off Ri somewhere near Northeast, a land full of "wine trees." (Seriously, that's what I called the grape vines today. Not for fun. Because that's how my brain was registering them. Sometimes I worry about my brain.) Memories came flooding back - a visit to these shores of Lake Erie with my admissions-office friends, the summer I was 19 ... the one I first felt like an adult.
I drove down 79, the familiar highway stretch - traveled often during my Allegheny days. Then onto 80 West for that short connection... so short I missed my usual exit... and started to worry. At the peak of my panic, Kai started freaking for me to take off his shoe. That was impossible with all of the big trucks and the long Swagger-Wagon stretch between the driver's seat and the bucket seat behind. I kept my eyes on the road and my hands on the wheel. Kai kept up a steady wail, while Jules told him to shush. A doe appeared at the edge of the trees and my heart leap into my throat. She paused, we passed. Big exhale.
And then... a promising exit that wound round to another familiar stretch. Ultimately the roads spit us out right by the driver's testing facility where, 20 years ago, they gave me my first driver's license... which I'm not sure I actually earned, just driving around that small circle and pulling up beside the curb.
We arrived "home" at just after 7. And all of those hours in the car... they were worth it.
For reasons like this:
Plus more fun to come...