“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive.” ― Robert M. Pirsig
The drive from Dallas to Ft. Worth was dicey at best because of the snowfall. Sorry, but you Texans don’t know how to drive in wintery weather. Rule number one… Slow Down! Crazy people were flying past us at seventy-five miles an hour, which was the speed limit but holy moly… it was near white out conditions as the snow blanketed the freeway system. Half the drivers failed to turn on their lights. And then there were the trucks! Oh, my gosh… the number of trucks on the cross-country highway system is truly unbelievable. Even living in the I-95 corridor, I don’t experience the trucking industry the way it appears on those transcontinental roads. Imagine double trailers surrounding your little four-cylinder car, everyone traveling at roughly eighty miles an hour since most of us move a bit faster than the posted limit… needless to say, it wasn’t for the faint of heart – especially as the snow was falling. In the few miles we drove during the massive snow squall there were a number of accidents and I counted all of our blessings while we maneuvered our way through the mess.
We drove as far as Abilene, Texas on Day three where Rocky’s oldest sister and her family have lived for years. I can’t say much about Abilene because mostly we just saw the northern edge of the city and the businesses that service the interstate 40 traffic. We went into the city for dinner in a restaurant that not only had great food but a fantastic old ambiance as well as it is in a historic building. I ordered something called a ‘Southern Hot Mess’ which was a simple burger on top of a scoop of pimento cheese and topped with a fried green tomato. How much more ‘southern’ can you get. It was wonderful and I learned a new trick with the use of pimento cheese for a burger! Try it!
Eating dinner with us that night were members of a family that I am tethered to in the most intimate way. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ll remember that Rocky was my first husband who passed away just three years after we were married. We had a son together and for all kinds of logical and normal reasons, our communication and relationships with Rocky’s family were sparse for many years as we all got to the business of raising our children and developing careers. It wasn’t anyone’s lack of interest or fault… it just was. Today – it’s different. Now that life has offered us some perspective and with the invent (and use) of Social Media – we’ve connected in a way that brings value and meaning – yes, even through FB. We are connected in ways that simply weren’t possible years ago since we lived in such opposite parts of the country. We feel more included, more up to date, more invested in the lives of one another and of our – now grown – children because we have access… at least electronically. And, each time I am with them there is a vibration in my soul… it sings to my heart and lets me know that my life with him wasn’t a dream.
Today, his sister reminds me quickly of his mother… and my daughter she said, reminds her of me. It was just another example of how life flows on the river of time so that everything winds around and presents itself again in another form. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time with her extended family and allow them an opportunity to know a piece of mine. Such treasured moments those are.
Leaving Abilene the next day we made the impromptu decision to advance north – to take make our way back up to the I-40 corridor, which we knew to be a much more scenic drive and afford us an opportunity to see the Grand Canyon – another box on Erin’s bucket list. We headed northwest on a smaller but still fast (75mph speed limit) highway and almost immediately I realized – with relief – that there were almost no trucks on the road. For those few hours, I noticed relief settling into my muscles as we drove through flat lands – acres and acres – thousands of acres of cotton fields.
Who knew they grew so much cotton in Texas?? We saw some harvested cotton fields in Tennessee and of course, everyone knows they grow cotton in the south but in Texas? Somehow I never made the connection that Texas was the included in the ‘cotton belt’. And… some things amaze me. Perhaps it was the boredom of driving in such flat country or perhaps there was some unconscious desire in my spirit to irritate the crap out of Erin but I couldn’t get over the shipping container size of the cotton bales that sat out in the middle of the fields – thousands of them! Not only were there miles and miles of cotton plants but as far as the eye could see, there were windmills intermittingly placed to catch the breeze that barreled across the flatlands. I love the idea of alternative energy but it really played with my brain as I noticed the juxtaposition of oil wells, windmills, and cotton fields. I couldn’t help but think of life as it might have been 150 years ago with hundreds of slaves moving across the landscape picking those plants in the driving heat of a Texan summer. Imagining that while simultaneously noticing a twenty-first-century model of energy creation was hard on my relaxed brain cells and so I might have said a few times (or maybe much more) “Geez Erin, look at all that cotton.” And “holy cow, look at all those cotton bales” and something similar to “Have you ever seen so many windmills?”
Eventually… she asked me to say something else. It was pretty interesting though and if I hadn’t been driving – I would have been Googling cotton production in Texas to learn more!
We pulled into a McDonalds to use the bathroom in a tiny little town mid afternoon. It was Saturday. Erin was driving by then and as soon as she shifted the car in Park there was a terrible, loud rattling noise coming from the engine area. Shit! Crap! What is that? We looked at each other with wide eyes wondering what in the heck could have just happened. “Shut it off,” I said quickly. She did. After using the facilities, she came out and started the car again – same noise. “Shut it off,” I said again. She did. Then – she got out of the car, opened the hood and looked. I’m not exactly sure what she was looking at or for. She knows less about cars than I do and I almost put oil in the hole where windshield washer fluid goes, but she looked. And then – she got in the car and let me know she didn’t see anything so she started the car again. Same noise – loud. Shit.
I noticed that there was an auto parts store across the street where I assumed there would be men who might know what the sound represented… and so I suggested she cross the street although truth be told – I was a bit nervous that driving even ten feet with that sound so intense – could mean trouble. But, she backed up and headed across the street. By the time we got there – seriously not more than 500 feet – the sound had stopped. We turned off the car and then turned it back on again – no sound. Wait, What? We looked at each other – she to me I assume because I have more experience and me to her because it was her car and she had the ultimate say so – especially if it meant that something was wrong and needed to be fixed. We silently and synchronously decided that we could just keep going without having to go in and ask a man about a noise that was no longer present.
To be continued…
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