Three Days on the Road

So, didya miss me? My computer hasn’t even been out of my briefcase since I packed it on Monday morning–until now, of course!

I had planned for the first day of my trip to be the shortest, because I knew I’d have to run errands on Monday morning. I had to deposit some checks, pick up my prescriptions, and mail a package, not to mention filling up the gas tank! It was after 10:00 when I finally rolled out of the driveway.

This is my second solo road trip, and it’s almost twice as long as last year’s trip to this same conference (in a different location). This time I can’t afford to stop and buy meals on the way, and I found I didn’t want to spend the time doing so either. I had plenty of things to snack on in my cooler and my picnic basket. I only stopped to get gas, use a bathroom, or take a power nap.

That first day, though, I had a nice straight shot to Memphis, where I stayed with my cousin Mark and his family. It was such an enjoyable visit. I know I’ve said it before, but I kind of won the lottery when it comes to my family. Tuesday morning Mark’s wife was up early making eggs, bacon, and gluten-free muffins. That was great fuel for day two of my trip!

Tuesday was my longest day, distance wise. I did take a short nap in the morning. I’ve discovered that mornings are a huge struggle for me on the road. You’d think I’d be all perky and fresh after a good night’s sleep, but instead I am lethargic and sleepy, even with caffeine. A 20-minute nap late in the morning makes a huge difference in my alertness, I’ve found, and then once the afternoon rolls around I do much better. Just in case I didn’t already know that I’m not a morning person!

I made it to Columbus, Ohio right at sunset and was warmly welcomed by Lina’s college friend Jennifer, who lives in Columbus and is a newly-minted PhD–in Music Theory. (I’m kind of in awe, to be honest.) This morning it was Jennifer who was up making eggs and ham for breakfast, which came with yogurt too. Then she helped me deflate my air mattress (there was a trick to it that took us a while to figure out) and I was soon on my way again–at a snail’s pace, thanks to rush hour traffic.

Today was a real struggle. I have never in my life driven for three days straight before. I had printed out directions, but I gave up on them because the print was so small I was endangering my life by trying to decipher it while driving at high speed down the highway! So I decided to throw in my lot with Nigel, my troll of a phone GPS.

Nigel has a predilection for ordering me to make U-turns at random intervals, instead of instructing me to turn the right way the first time. That is frustrating enough. Today Nigel outdid himself. Instead of taking me by the most direct route, he apparently decided that I have not yet seen an adequate number of cornfields in the last two weeks. We merrily drove through West Virginia (twice) and Maryland (for a long ways) before finally heading up to Pennsylvania.

As the day wore on, I had to contact my friend Mary and warn her that I would not be able to meet with her until tomorrow morning. I drove past Gettysburg and Valley Forge. I drove through miles and miles of Amish country. I have seen thousands of cornfields in the last two weeks! When I stopped to get a couple of items at a grocery store, I drove in behind two Amish ladies in their horse-drawn buggy. When I came out of the store, another buggy was arriving, filled with eight Amish ladies!

I was very tired and frustrated by the time I reached Villanova. It was after sunset. Nigel took me through all kinds of residential neighborhoods and 35-mile speed limit roads to get here. Then I found the university, but I couldn’t find the buildings I needed and I couldn’t figure out where I was on the map! I drove and drove and drove. Finally I found a manned guard house (after nearly an hour) and the guard there was so helpful and friendly. At last I found Realm Makers, got signed in and assigned a room! It is surprisingly similar to the rooms we had in St. Louis last year, but these suites have an actual kitchen and living area so there is a good place to set up my tea making supplies for the benefit of my fellow tea drinkers here at the conference.

Now that I’ve somewhat recovered from my trip and had a cup of (decaf) tea, I’m able to look forward to the conference! I refuse to think about the three day drive back home yet . . .


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