Living Out Loud

Road Trip


One of our daughters and most of Wonder Woman's family live in the coastal city of Wilmington, about a two-hour drive from where we live. During the summer, the university where we work has an abbreviated schedule and we either work a half day on Fridays or not at all. Today we worked until 12. I left my office on the south side of campus and drove to hers on the north side. I sent her my normal text to let her know that I'd arrived "Let's go QTPI"  and I jumped into the passenger seat so that I didn't have to drive, a running joke between us. I did all the driving for years but for the past few she's been doing more and more.

Our routine when we leave work is generally the same. We gossip about our co-workers. Every juicy tidbit we've heard during the day get's spilled in the first five miles. After we get that important task out of the way, we may or may not complain about our bosses next. Today they didn't give us a reason to so we moved on the the next big decision. Well, kind of decision. Our route through the flat farmlands on the coastal plain of Eastern North Carolina was going to take us by exactly one restaurant in the first hour, a forlorn Waffle House near Interstate 95, which we have to cross on the way.

I don't know if you've ever been to a Waffle House. they are pretty much all the same. The cook will be outside on the sidewalk smoking when you get there if they aren't busy. The waitresses carry on intensely personal conversations across the entire dining room. All the patrons look slightly scared. The food, however, is solid. I can heartily recommend the sausage, egg and cheese hash brown bowl  with added jalapeños and onions covered in Tabasco sauce. Good stuff.

After leaving the Waffle House, we hit a convenience store for drinks and snacks, even though we just had lunch, because, hey, you never know. We might get into a car wreck. What fun is a long car ride without convenience store food. It's a tradition.

Once the ride started, I fought an initially valiant battle against the nods. We passed through Spivey's Corner, the home of the National Hollering Contest, the winner of which used to appear on the Johnny Carson show in earlier times. We went through the little town of Newton Grove with its signature roundabout and plethora of Latino markets, a hat tip to the changing demographics.

I was getting sleepier and sleepier and less and less successful at fighting it. Wonder Woman did what she always does in those situations, sigh loudly and put on a podcast. She listens almost exclusively to ultra-running podcasts. She's a passionate runner herself, having completed a couple of 50-mile races in the past few months and currently training for an another attempt at 100 miles in the Virginia mountains come September.

The next thing I knew, we were rolling into Wilmington. I felt rested and a different podcast was playing through the speakers. Wonder Woman came through and we have a whole weekend devoted to the Pre-K graduation of our four-year old granddaughter plus her dance recital, a drum and guitar recital by our soon to be high-school aged grandson and a belated mother's day visit with my mother-in-law. We may or may not do some car shopping for another grandson who needs hand controls on a vehicle due to being in a wheel chair. We will eventually make it home late Sunday in time to get up and go back to work the next day. Life is made for living!