After sixteen months of, “Next year at this time…” we are finally doing it. The house sold, boxes packed, goodbye dinners enjoyed, and the week of living out of a suitcase is over. We are loaded to capacity for the three day road trip in two cars with our 15 year old Jack Russell Terrier, Lola. This is the point when my husband would say, “Wrong pronoun. She’s your dog,” a phrase he picked up from my sister, Wrenn, but has gladly taken on as his own. So, here I am in the driver’s seat pulling away from my parents’ home for a 21 hour car ride with a well sedated dog riding shotgun. My emotions are confusing at best. Eager, apprehensive, optimistic, and melancholy all rolled into one. The philosopher, Lao Tzu’s quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” slips through my thoughts. The clock ticks forward, the sun passes overhead, miles stretch on and I can no longer bare the Spotify 80s music that’s been my constant companion. Finally, day one ends in the town of Van Horn, Texas. All I can say about Van Horn is it seemed like a good idea at the time. Speaking of ideas that reveal themselves in due time…dog sedation. In case you are unaware…sedating a dog can have a few negative side effects. These include but are undoubtedly not limited to the following. An escalation of gas output, awkward struggles of wandering in confined spaces, attempts to maneuver over the gearshift and into the lap of the driver doing 80+ mph on the highway and worst of all a noticeable upsurge of panting resulting in extremely foul breath skimming the air conditioner vent and inevitably blowing a toxic bouquet into the face of said driver. Day two, sans doggie sedatives for obvious reasons is less stressful. This day however is truly intriguing as I pass sign after sign advertising, THE THING! Literally there are 100s of billboards proclaiming this “mystery of the desert”, “aliens vs dinosaurs”, “a must see”, “dead ahead” and “ancient enigma”. All I can visualize is the 1951 black and white movie, The Thing From Another World my dad projected one Halloween using the living room wall as a screen. Sadly, I did not take exit 322 so the mystery awaits. I do however know if I stop during future travels I can purchase a dipped cone because apparently THE THING is attached to a Shell Gas Station, Souvenir Shop & Dairy Queen combo. Day two landed us in Nogales, Arizona. This town is just north of the border positioning us for an early morning crossover into Mexico with hopes to avoid the “border backup”. Day three kicks off with a refueling stop and a last minute trip to Starbucks, a habit I’ve formed over the years of teaching young children who graciously provided gift cards for Teacher Appreciation Week. I will have no choice but to find a new vice moving forward as there are no Starbucks stores within 60 miles of San Carlos. Nonetheless, prepared with passports, Mexican car insurance, a fist of “doogie border crossing paperwork”, a cup holder filled with pesos for tolls and limited español we roll across the invisible boundary between two cultures. Oddly, this day feels slightly different from every other time we’ve crossed this very border. Today we will be moving into our home in San Carlos and for the first time ever I wonder internally, “Was this the right decision?” Driving through the small towns filled with tiny open air cafes, fruit stands brimming with choices, young children selling bags of chopped nopales or tortillas and streets offering copper paella pans for sale I notice something. I see friendly expressions, laughter and a sense of non-urgency. As the kilometers pass under the tires, my uneasiness begins to decrease and the knot in my stomach uncoils. A few hours later as I ease off of highway 15 and pass the colorful SAN CARLOS sign, I look over at Lola still riding shotgun and quietly think, I’m home.
July 12, 2019
“Are we there yet?”
– Every child approximately 30 minutes into any road trip