Day 18- No Casserole for You!

I drove clear across Nebraska today!  The skies were overcast and the road was bumpy.  It made me extremely sleepy, like the lull that puts a baby to sleep when riding in the car.  There were dried up corn fields everywhere, so not a lot of exciting scenery to keep me engaged.  It was dang cold, especially when I’m used to temperatures around 80 in April in Alabama.  It was still not a dreary day, just dreary weather.

The plan was to make it to Iowa and spend the night in Des Moines, but fate had a different plan for me.  I got to Des Moines alright and saw a sign for Cracker Barrel at Exit 164.  I was sleepy and hungry.  Yep, that was the exit for me.  I’d find a place to stay close to that delicious hash brown casserole.  As luck would have it, I took a wrong turn and that road spit me out on the other side of the city.  No casserole for me.  Acceptance of the way things turn out sometimes is a hard one for me, even something seemingly insignificant.  At first I was mad at myself for making the wrong turn, I took some deep breaths, then tried to think of the positives.  I’d be closer to Chicago, which is my next destination, I wouldn’t be in the big and very busy city of Des Moines, and I would not be spending the money to eat out.  Tuna it would be!

I ended up in a small town called Newton, Iowa (about an hour East of Des Moines) where the people were super friendly, and had a great sense of humor.  They laughingly reinforced what I already knew, there was no Cracker Barrel in town.  They helped direct me to a motel close by where I settled in for the night.  I ate my trusty tuna, pretending it was hash brown casserole, then crashed hard for the night.


Day 17- Here’s to Clean Slates

I had my sights on Denver, Colorado as the next stop over in the journey back home. The cold morning in Wyoming started off with strong coffee, prayer and meditation.  I gassed up and hit the road.  Snow covered the ground but all roads were back open.  I-80 had been closed in some parts due to a Spring storm that blew through, with two more storms predicted by the weekend.  

It was amazing to begin the day with blankets of pure white ground all around me, then transitions to blue skies and green, grassy plains by the end of the day.  I wish I could say the temperatures warmed up drastically but it was cold as spit everywhere I went.  I’m not complaining but most definitely prefer it a tiny bit warmer.  

I did make it to Denver to see the sights, but pushed on to Nebraska, where things weren’t quite as expensive. Total drive time was about 8 hours.  I thought a lot as I drove (this has become a habit I have never done much of before).  The snow was so fresh and pure.  It reminded me of a clean slate, covering the dry and brittle grass.  Not to re-write the past, there were lessons learned there, but to literally start over.  That is exactly what am trying to do.  I have made peace with the sorrow and regrets of the past, tried to right my wrongs and now I have have this new beginning to do with as God directs me to do.  The trip is finally making me understand, I can be brave, leave the old scared me behind and have a brand new life.  I knew that in my head, but now I feel it in my heart. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13

Day 16- Lessons of The Oregon Trail

As I back-tracked through Idaho, to finally get on I-80 towards Cheyenne, Wyoming, I kept seeing brown historical signs along the way.  I was almost to Wyoming when one of these Historial site just ahead signs peaked my curiosity.  I took American History in college 3 times before I passed, so for me to take an interest in it now, was perplexing, even to me.  I took exit and followed the arrows to Inman Caribou Targhee (still not real sure what Targhee is, but I was all about seeing some Caribou).  Sadly, there were no Caribou but the trail was classic mid-west scenery and came complete with signs explaining the history of what I was seeing.  Very interesting. I finally realized the road I was on was part of the Oregon Trail so I started paying a little more attention.

 I took pictures of places where people made their way across the United States in the 1800’s, searching for a new and better life.  The challenges they must have faced, their tremendous courage and their sheer determination really touched me.  Actually, it hit home.  I may not be in a covered wagon, but I can totally relate to those folks.  Sometimes, the best parts of the journey are the unknown.  I used to stress and drink over the unknown.  I liked to know to plan and if anything changed, I was not mentally equipped to handle it.  I had no faith.  These days, I just trust.  Whatever happens will happen, I must be courageous like those settlers and look forward to a better future, on day at a time.  

Day 15- 4 States in One Day

This day was one for the books, I experienced 4 states!  This was all in the name of seeing Yellowstone National Park.  I might have slightly extended myself.  Left Utah, passed through Idaho, came to Montana then, just through the entrance to the park…Bam…I’m in Wyoming.  Yellowstone was well worth the effort.  Where else can you meet up with a ginormous bison, see giesers, 50 foot pine trees and mountains capped with snow, all in one place? 

I must also admit that Idaho was not at all what I expected.  This state had mountains, farms and a beautiful sunset.  You see, I went through this area twice.  The southern road that I entended to take to exit Yellowstone was closed for the winter…umm…it is April, right?  Should have done my homework on that one.  My only options were to exit the park north, to Montana or go back the way I came.  

I wasn’t upset when my plan was high jacked by Mother Nature.  I remembered my motto, “Everything happens for a reason.”  So, I just went with the flow.  Heading back into Idaho to find somewhere to sleep, I saw the most amazing sunset.  Glad I didn’t miss it.

Day 13- Goodbye California

My son, Joseph came to say goodbye and wish me safe travels this morning.  It was a very sad moment for me and I did not want to leave him or San Francisco but, it was time.  As I said farewell, I prepared myself for another day on the road.  The trip home was not planned out at all, in fact, I didn’t sit down to plot my course until the night before. 

My 1st goal of the day was to finally see the Golden Gate Bridge.  After last hugs from my boy, I headed out to complete that mission.  I was a little nervous about driving through the city but it turns out, it was a piece of cake, especially compared to finagling my way through Los Angeles.  I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge with ease and even managed to take pictures (shhhh, I’m sure it was highly illegal). 

After crossing the bridge, I made my way to Muir Woods which is known to have some of the tallest and oldest redwood trees in the country.  Since it was such a gorgeous day and a Saturday, the roads going there were packed, so it took a little longer than I expected.  It was well worth the wait, such a tranquil place with trees lining the streets like umbrellas.  After soaking in the scenery, I looked at the clock and was shocked at how late it had become.  Now I had a slight dilemma.

My objective was to reach Reno, Nevada to spend the night.  I had to decide if I wanted to drive to Yosemite, which I really wanted to see or head straight to Nevada.  I didn’t want to be driving into the night so, I made the tough choice to forgo Yosemite.  “Disappointed” would be putting it lightly but the decision was made.  I programmed my GPS for Reno, not even looking at the route it would take and hit the road.  

As usual, I was talking to God along the way, telling Him how sad I am to be leaving California and how bummed I am that my adventure is over.  I mean, I’ve already seen all the cool places I planned to see, it felt kind of like Christmas as a kid.  You know how excited you got about Christmas, counting down the days.  It seemed to take forever to get there, then when the big day arrived and all the presents had been opened, you were sad it was already over?  That’s the way I felt.  No joke, about 10 minutes later, I came around a corner and I think my jaw dropped to the floor.  All around me were snow covered mountains, I’m talking about a 360 degree view.  I actually, said out loud, “God, you have got to be kidding me!”.  I was in Lake Tahoe, surrounded by the Tahoe National Forest and it was incredible!  

I guess my point is, life truly is a journey.  Just when you least expect it, something new and beautiful appears.  Now, instead of being disappointed that my quest to reach San Francisco has been completed, I’m keeping my eyes out for the next adventure!  I’m just going to enjoy the ride.


Me, driving in the big city of San Fran

Driving over the bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge

Tahoe National Forest

The road to Muir Woods

A VERY close up pic of me in Muir Woods

Day 12- The Hidden Golden Gate Bridge

Since I didn’t get to see The Golden Gate Bridge yesterday due to tired feet, the challenge was on today.  The forecast was not very hopeful as the chance for rain was imminent, but I was determined.  The kids found a spot on the bay side that was supposed to have a lovely view so feeling guardedly optimistic, we grabbed raincoats and umbrellas and we were off.  

The drive to Grizzly Peak, just above Berkeley was only about 25 minutes from where I was staying.  We followed the upward and winding road up to the top, parked and watched the clouds get thicker and thicker.  I got a glimps of the bridge but could only see a couple of the posts.  We decided to wait it out for a few minutes, hoping for just a second or two of a clear view.  Those few minutes turned into two hours of waiting in the car.  Funny thing, instead of everyone getting bored or frustrated, we had some of the best conversation and laughter we’ve had since I’ve been here.  

Those two hours passed, we decided to go into Berkeley to have lunch and we would return to Grizzly Peak afterward to try again.  Lunch was an authentic Chinese restaurant complete with a teapot of traditional Chinese tea on the table when we arrived.  Just the thing to warm us up (it was might bit chilly up on that mountain in the rain).  It was delicious and Joe picked up the tab so that made even better. 

The sun came out while we were having lunch and I was confident there would be a clear view when we reached the top of the mountain again.  As we climbed the hills and reached the viewing spot, the sky was completely covered by fog and clouds again, thick as pea soup.  Instead of getting irritated, we laughed and guessed it was not meant to be.  I decided to take my friend David’s advice and drive over the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow on my way out of town.  I bet it will be an even more wonderful experience and picture than I would have gotten anyway.  Choosing to see the glass half full instead of half empty.