Monday, August 17, 2009


Jen was hoping we would wake up early and drive without stopping so she could make it to afternoon orientation. Alas, we all overslept, and didn’t wake up until 8:30 NC time. Calculations showed us arriving sometime around 5pm. We also had dinner arranged with Jim and Carol for a bbq dinner, so we tried hard to make good time. Could we get there in time with only bathroom breaks and drive-through meals, perhaps?

As we headed toward east Tennessee, the landscape changed and became hilly and lush. The Great Smoky Mts. was similarly mountainous, not jagged rocky peaks like the Sierras, but lush, green
heavily wooded mountains similar to other parts of the east coast. We stopped very little today and our behavior became similar to that of a runner about the finish the race, barreling down to the finish line. Bathroom breaks and short rests were all we had time for. We’d had enough jelly beans, doritos, melted and reformed chocolate, and hard gummy bears, and we were tired of sitting on our butts. No more Thomas Friedman on CD, thank you. We’d bonded enough and had no more to learn about each other. I was beginning to appreciate the flowers in the cupholder.

Though arriving at our destination meant that our journey was over and we would be delivering Jen to her apartment before leaving her behind. That thought was somewhat sad but the thought of getting out of the car was overpowering that feeling of sadness. What a feeling of empowerment it was to have made it across the country in a bit over 3 days! It made us feel like we could drive anywhere with minimal discomfort --Yellowstone, Washington, Las Vegas, Utah, Canada? What next?

Entering North Carolina and Raleigh, we ran in to some road construction. The gps took us directly to her apartment and I was surprised to see that it looked like the townhouses we used to rent for skiing at Tahoe. The buildings are grey, wood, 2 story, and nestled in the woods. I think I was expecting a concrete apartment house and this didn’t at all fit what I had imagined it would look like. We gasped when entering the place, as it was HUGE. 2 roomy bedrooms, a large living room, 2 baths, eating area, kitchen and large balcony with a bbq grill that looked down on the woods. Very different from California.

Jen’s things looked sparse in the room. Her clothes didn’t even halfway fill the 2 large closets, and her books looked lonely on the shelf. The bookcases in the living room were empty, as was most of the room. The vase of flowers in the cupholder looked homey on the kitchen table. We unloaded and quickly left to meet Jim and Carol; Jen went to her social event. We did finally get our bbq dinner and it sure did hit the spot.
It was fun to catch up and to realize that life takes us to places we never imagined we would be. Who woulda thought we would be in NC visiting our favorite neighbors?

We spent the evening watching Jen unpack her few boxes and I wondered how long it would be before her apartment was full, and if it did get filled, how she would move all of the stuff using her Prius. It would take a moving van to move if she filled this place. It also felt like the place needed some music, and the aroma of cooking to help fill the space. We were reluctant to leave so soon and I wished I could have stayed to help decorate the place with rugs and stuff. But there is something comforting in making the bed for your child and knowing that once the bed is made, you can leave, because they will be able to sleep at night. Having a made bed is very important, you know.

The next morning, Jen drove us to the airport and we flew out, to our chagrin, over the same route we had driven over the past few days. Little Rock down below....
It had been a good trip, good company, interesting sights, and in thinking back, it all went by so quickly. Amazing, isn’t it, that one can drive all the way across this great country in 3 days! It made the country feel not so big after all. We’re so close she can come back any time; all it takes it a few day to get here!


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