Cross Country Clips: Introduction

Like pretty much everyone else when spring arrived this year, I was itching to travel. With two Moderna shots in my arm and somewhat lighter-weight COVID protocols, I was ready to roam, but not yet ready for crowded airports and claustrophobic airplane seats. Those who know me well know that Barney and I LOVED road trips. We crisscrossed the country several times, seeking out lesser-known historical sites, national parks, and unique local cafes. Between us, we visited every state except Alaska and Rhode Island, and those had been on our bucket list.

I definitely don’t recommend losing a beloved spouse and coping with COVID isolation at the same time, but that’s pretty much what 2020 was all about for me except that my dear friend TOR (see previous blog posts) gave me the great gift of sharing day trips to safe locations all over the state during the first half of the year.

I’d had to cancel a scheduled cross-country train trip to California for Barney’s grandson Harrison’s high school graduation when the COVID lockdowns began, so when the invitation came this year for his sister Hailey’s 8th grade graduation, I decided that was occasion enough to hit the road. She attended St. Raymond’s in Menlo Park, CA for ten years—from preschool forward, so the celebration was a big deal for her class of 30 who would be going separate ways for high school.

Hailey Wells’ graduation from St. Raymond’s

My original plan was to drive out by myself, but my sons had other ideas. After some secret collusion, one offered to drive out with me, and the other to drive back. Being the mother of two sons in their 50s, I have savored this special gift of spending a bit of extended time with each. However, I also made plans to spend a little time with each of Barney’s daughters, including a relaxing mid-trip visit to Lake Tahoe, then catching up with a long-time friend in Reno and a nephew in Omaha. I also “negotiated” four days by myself in the middle of the trip.

On the road again, finally, with my younger son Bobby

Much as she loves to hop in the car and go along, I knew I couldn’t take Gracie with me on this almost month-long adventure. She’s never stayed in a kennel, but my wonderful grandson Robbie agreed to take care of her, along with his own schnoodle Cooper, and I agreed to supply this 16-year-old with welcome gas money comparable to what I’d have had to pay a kennel. Not only has he done a great job, he’s also been thoughtful enough to keep me posted with photos and videos along the way.

Grandson Robbie with Cooper (left) and Gracie (right)

Destination #1 was New Orleans, where we had reservations at the Royal Sonesta in the French quarter. It was wonderful to be out on the road again, this time in the good company of my younger son. Crossing Lake Ponchartrain seemed to take forever but no wonder. It’s the second largest inland saltwater lake in the US (after the Great Salt Lake, which I will also visit before returning home). It covers 630 square miles. By this point, the skies were overcast and dull, with the city barely visible in a gray mist. It would stay that way for the next couple days.

I won’t saddle you with every detail of this extraordinary and special trip, but I plan to share highlights in upcoming posts and hope you enjoy vicariously.

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