Leaving time came all too soon. The others would be staying another day, as Script's flight home wasn't for another day or so, Eagle was traveling further still to visit other family, and Lades had ended up with a damaged windshield from a rock on the highway, and would stay an extra day to get the glass replaced. I don't blame her for not wanting to travel home with what looked like the St. Louis Arch in her glass.
Even Grace could have stayed longer if it hadn't been for me and my hard deadline of being at homeschool co-op by 8AM Tuesday to set up for the day. She was, as usual, gracious enough not to mention that I was the reason we left when we did. If we were going to make it to the hotel where we had reservations by a decent time that night, we had to get a move on.
Lots of hugs, final pictures, last good-byes, make sure we got everything out of the car for Pickles to take back home with her (Eagle would drive her back to the farm). There was no way I could have given her enough to make me happy, or any of the others, either, and I tried not to think too hard about that.
Grace and I fell back into our driving pattern. We had eaten the lunches we packed before we left, so we lost no time and just got out onto the open road. Beauty before and behind to look at, and Grace's intelligent and thoughtful conversation, only stopping to get gas, water, use the restroom, trade places.
We fell back to talking, and both agreed to having only one regret, that we couldn't have done more to help Pickles with her house. If we had been able to spend a couple of more days, I would have loved to work my way through her entire kitchen and bathroom, and give her the gift of peace in those places. If I had the time and the money, I would have been more than happy to rent a U-Haul and take stuff to the dump for her (she has to pay for garbage pick up where she lives, or save up and take it to the dump and pay to dispose of it -- makes it so much harder to clean a house when you have little money for such things).
We talked of so many subjects, all of which Grace understood and had tremendous insight into, that I lose track. I could only follow, breathless, in her wake.
Eventually we decided, in a crazy and fateful moment, to not stop at that hotel after all. As Grace pointed out, we might regret it later, but for that moment it seemed doable, and it would put us at her place in San Antonio by around 2AM, probably. Then I could sleep a few hours and get back on the road.
One reason for this was that, as we discussed it, there was a big glitch in our time line. We could stop, probably at around 10pm, get to bed quickly, get up early, pack the car, show up for the included breakfast at 6AM the moment they opened, and be back on the road by 6:30. This ould put me leaving San Antonio just in time to hit Houston at rush hour. Big, nasty ouch.
If, instead, we went straight through, I could be leaving her house just in time to hit Houston right at the end of the lunch rush hour, and I would be getting home by dark, instead of by 10pm-midnight, as I originally thought.
We decided to go for it. We would keep each other awake and alert, this could work.
Meanwhile, dinner. We found another of those mid-price chain restaurants, this time one that not only had veggie "burgers", but a salad bar. I made a doozy, wow, was I craving greens. Knowing we had a long night ahead, I even ate a few of the french fries. It's something I've only done one other time since I went raw, and for some reason it seems to keep me awake, just 6-8 of them. At the end of the meal, I spent some time figuring out how to work the tip calculator on my phone -- and figured out mostly that I can do it faster my way than by trying to use the silly gadget. Probably better for my brain if I don't let myself rely on the thing, anyway.
The longer I spent with Grace, the more I liked her. She even likes my favorite blogger, Crabby McSlacker of Cranky Fitness. The miles between where she and I live began to seem ever more like a burden.
As the evening progressed, I didn't feel so much sleepy as craving something. We pulled off at Fort Stockton to find a pit stop, and it was the strangest stop we made. There were no open stations near the interstate exit we chose. We drove, and drove, and finally found a station, and I purchased some very plain tortilla chips. Again, like the potatoes, they would keep me awake. Then we got on the road going the same direction, and came back to the interstate. Apparently, we should have taken the second Ft. Stockton exit, it is the one with the open stations.
This time, I was driving when we went through the Border Patrol checkpoint. I was asked where we were headed, did I own the car, etc. When I pointed to Grace as the owner, that we were taking turns driving, heading home to San Antonio. the officer peered in to look at her, asked if we were both citizens like it was a mere formality, and waved us on.
When we passed where we would have stayed for the night, Grace called her husband and told him we were just getting to the hotel exit, and she wanted to call before it got too late, as she had promised she would. She simply didn't mention that we wouldn't be stopping. :) This way, too, she would get to say good-bye to him again before he left on Monday, and she would be there to give him his birthday present. After all, he wouldn't be home for his birthday on Tuesday, and it just didn't seem fair that she also had to miss the gift giving.
It was quite a nice gift, too. Seems the whole family, in-laws, kids, everyone, had chipped in to get him the newest Beatles boxed set of remastered CDs. Something my Sweetie would go nuts over. We discussed his obsession with the Beatles, and with the quest for the perfect tone that has gone on for so long.
Our worst mishap occurred while Grace had the misfortune to be driving -- a state trooper, and our forgetting that the 80MPH speed limit that we were counting on to get us home by a certain time was the daytime limit. (I mentioned in an earlier post that this was important to remember, now you know why, if you have managed to read along this far.)
I was absolutely distraught, as it was on my account, really, that she was doing this. It didn't seem fair. She looked upon it as just another part of the adventure, and stayed calm and serene and graceful.
The trooper was cordial and businesslike at the same time, and we were soon on our way, sadder, wiser, and slower.
The main result of this was that we pulled in to her house a good bit later than we had figured, but that was okay, we had made it safe thus far, and that was the main thing.
I helped pull some things from the car, got the cold items into the fridge and the freezer pack into the freezer (not much cold stuff of mine left, just cashew butter and a couple of other odds and ends). Then, as she greeted her husband and told him of our decision to surprise him, I went upstairs to the guest room, laid down on top of the covers with my bathrobe for a blanket, and slept. It was about 4AM.
Be Bald and Be Free Day
Big Kids Day, Channel Islands
Blessing the Fish Harvest, Yorkshire, England
Emergency Nurses Day
Founder's Day, Zaire
Imamat Day -- Islam
International Top Spinning Day
Mega Kenka Matsui, Japan (Roughhouse Festival)
National Chocolate Covered Insect Day (I'll pass. Sorry.)
National Day, Yemen
National Frump Day (Sounds more like my speed!)
National Train Your Brain Day
Peace Corps Day
Quarrel Festival, Japan
Taoist Kusu Island Pilgrimage begins, Japan
Harry Anderson, 1952
Sir Cliff Richard, 1940
Ralph Lauren, 1939
Roger Moore, 1927
John Wooden, 1910
e.e. cummings, 1894
Lillian Gish, 1893
Dwight Eisenhower, 1890
William Penn, 1644
Today in History:
William the Conqueror wins England in the Battle of Hastings, 1066
Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeats King Edward II of England at Byland, forcing Edward to accept Scotland's independence, 1322
Rabbi Judah Hasid & Chayim Molocho arrive in Jerusalem, 1700
Henry Blair receives a patent for a corn planter, becoming the first black to obtain a US patent, 1834
George Eastman patents paper-strip photographic film, 1884
Theodore Roosevelt is shot while campaigning in Milwaukee on the "Bull Moose" ticket, 1912
Ethel Merman makes her Broadway debut in "Girl Crazy", 1930
51 minutes ago