The great American road trip: Montana here we come

With gas prices fluctuating between $3.95 and $4.09 in Columbus, Ohio, we’ve embarked on a road trip to Montana, cruise control set at 65 mph.

Right now we’re driving into the sunset on I-80 near Fremont, Ohio, home of Rutherford B. Hayes. My laptop is resting across my lap. We’re passing yet another white farmhouse with a barn silo. Our goal is to make it to La Quinta Inn in Madison, Wisconsin. It has a pool, WiFi and free breakfast. Wheee!

If we don’t make it, we’re out $100. It’s 8:52 p.m. If you do the math, you’ll notice that we won’t roll into the parking lot until at least 2:00.

The relatives we just left in Brunswick at a high school graduation party for one of our ten nephews gave us hugs and waved us off. “Of course, you’re driving to Madison tonight,” was the general response.

The graduation party stop, two hours after I shoved our last belonging in the car in Columbus, was a quick one-just enough time to say our congrats, have a swim in a backyard pool, eat our fill and head out.

The stop was a chance to regroup. Leaving Columbus was not the smoothest. We left pillows and umbrellas behind. By the time we made it to the entrance ramp of I-71 north, I was ready to call it quits. This was not even a mile from our house.

My mom just called to tell me the things she did that we forgot to do. Things like emptying the coffee grounds, turning on an inside light, changing the bulb of our porch light and turning that on, and watering our flowers. The neighbor kids will be by in a couple of days, but the flowers looked limp as we pulled away.

But, we are off in our Ford Taurus station wagon with a new set of rear brakes and an oil change. This car has made the trip two other times, the first time all the way to California and onto New York when our son was a year and a half and our daughter was ten.

This time we have broken our no DVD player stance. Our son is watching Chicken Little, but he had to wait to be plugged in until we left Brunswick and turned onto the highway. The idea is to parcel it out so he’ll notice the scenery and we can visit which is part of the purpose of a road trip.

Tomorrow, we’ll be in Minneapolis, the city filled with outdoor art, visiting two sets of friends. One set who used to live on our street before we moved to Taiwan. Their son was our daughter’s best friend when they were five.

The other set was friends of ours in Singapore. Back when we hung out together, they were kid-less and so were we. We spent one Christmas together hiking between Jomsom and Pokhara, Nepal.

Catching up with friends we haven’t seen for awhile is another road trip purpose. As a person who has had a life of travel and moving, these visits offer me some sense of continuity.

But, for now we’re floating on the highway, the sun is gone and the moon is up, a crescent in front of us—good company for a night of driving. [The photo is what Chicago looks like at 1:00 a.m. I would have taken the photo myself but I was in a road-hashed stupor. This shot is of evanembee's view from his condo.]