It's a Long Way to Tipperary
February 25, 2014
Day 1 – San Leandro to San Bernardino
We got a late start that first morning leaving the Bay area and found ourselves smack dab in the middle of early morning commuter traffic - me in my Subaru Forester with Lulu riding shot gun, we were both a tad rattled by the whole thing. As I came across 580 towards I-5 my thoughts turned to all the trips made down this highway in my younger years and I kept thinking wow, I sure ain’t as young as I used to be … the 280 zx I used to make the trip in is now an SUV and the frequent java stops have turned into a quest for gluten free organic no sugar anything and a safe place for my dog to pee. Living in the small town of Auburn for the last few years had spoiled me considerably in terms of dealing with the traffic and the like and so I didn’t start out on my journey feeling like the road savvy road warrior I once was.
Our first stop was an In-N-Out Burger on I-5. I was really hungry by then and it was like a little oasis in the middle of the desert complete with palm trees and outdoor seating. I knew I could have a “protein style” burger and a patty for Lu and feel like I had met some basic dietary requirements without getting too far off track in terms of the current diet plan. We'll see how long that lasts!
The highlight of day 1 was definitely meeting Ozone and Turbo and their lovely folks while sitting in the warm Cali sun enjoying our meal. They had just made the trek from Austin on their way to SF, which was the exact opposite of our route, and I have to say I was just a bit concerned about the look on Ozone’s face and wondered if this is what my girl would look like after 4 long days on the road ... ???
Day 2 – San Bernardino to Tucson
San Bernardino County is my birthplace. It is where both of my parents grew up, where they met and were married, and it is where they started their family. As I drove in late the night before the names of my childhood called out to me – Fontana, Etiwanda, Loma Linda, Claremont, Redlands, Riverside, Ontario and my birthplace – Upland. Strip mall after mall it looked nothing like I remembered it and as the black and white photos of the family album flashed before me I was suddenly quite melancholy and struck by the realization that I would likely never visit these places again. The elders have passed, the cousins have moved on as have I, but the memories of a simple and happy childhood live on in my heart forever and are a big part of who I am.
I did not take the time to visit my childhood landmarks that evening or drive by the old ADAMS HARDWARE in Ontario one last time (I understand it has been remodeled and is now a jewelry store anyway), but early the next morning heading east on I-10 I did stop in a little town called Banning. My grandparents lived here during the depression and it is where my mother was born. I heard so many stories of this town while I was young from my Mom and found myself expecting it to still look like the dust bowl she described, or to see my grandfather standing with one foot up on the running board of his Model A beside the road. As I drove down the small roads of this town my eyes searched for anything that might have been still remaining from the time when they were there. Did my Mom walk down this road with her Mom? Was my grandfather ever in that old building? Perhaps this is the street they lived on? Back on I-10 heading towards Palm Springs I remembered stopping in Banning with my Mom in the early 70’s and how she had tried to share some of her early memories with me. I wasn’t very interested. My mind was on the bikini I planned to buy at Saks when we got to Palm Springs. And so it is with Mothers and daughters.
We arrived in Tucson later that evening just in time to enjoy a stellar sunset. We ate. We slept. We left early the next morning to a stellar sunrise … and that’s really all I remember of Tucson!
Day 3 – Tucson to Fort Stockton
When you leave Arizona and enter Texas it feels like you can drive forever and go nowhere. 8 hours go by with barely a change in the landscape and you’re saying to yourself, REALLY? Something’s different than Cali or Arizona though, not sure exactly what but you just feel it. I said to Lu more than once Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore … just something about the swager of those Sheriff Rangers.
(For a definition of the word "swager" click here Urban Dictionary)
We had a few interesting stops …
And fell off the wagon a little a Mickey D’s in Van Horn … (no burger but just some really greasy and delicious fries!)
But what was most notable to me on this portion of the trip was my time with Nelson.
Before leaving I downloaded a few books from audible.com on my cell phone and so had the pleasure of spending some time with Nelson Mandela as I drove (and drove, and drove). I had always wanted to read his book “Long Walk to Freedom” after visiting his home in Soweto South Africa as well as the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, so being able to listen as I drove was perfect. All I can say is hats off to you Nelson and thanks for getting me through!
To see photos of South Africa click here:
Day 4 – Fort Stockton to Austin
The last day of the trip was the shortest leg and in some ways the most interesting. After the monotony of so many miles on I-10, it was a welcome change to head NE on Hwy 290 towards Austin for the last few hours. The terrain reminded me a lot of Auburn and the Hwy takes you through some small towns of interest.
The first town, Harper, felt a bit like a scene from “The Last Picture Show” , one of my favorite movies from the 70’s. Just a brief stop here as I was so ready to finally be in Austin and Lulu was letting it be known by now that she had had enough.
How'dee from Harper!
Fredericksburg was adorable - a mix of old and new, trendy shops next to shit kicker bars and old time 5 and dimes. I really wanted to spend the afternoon there, just me and my camera, but was less than an hour from my destination (and Richard) so we just kept driving.
Johnsonville – we had to stop here. It’s the birthplace of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. The truth be told, we had to stop for Lulu to pee but decided to take advantage of the stop to check it out and snap a few shots of this historic site. We passed on joining the tour group that was lining up just as we got there though, tempting as I must say it was!
Last Stop – Austin!
Finally we made it to Austin and it was so great to see Richards smiling face standing on the sidewalk waiting for us when we finally arrived. It was a long month apart and a long freakin drive!
I do want to give a quick shout out to all my road Angels that held is in prayer for a safe journey. We felt you with us all the way...
The time in Austin was a crazy busy and was really just all about details. Lots and lots of details. Moving abroad takes so much more than you can ever imagine until you actually do it, particularly with a dog in tow. But the journey thus far has all been a wonderful exercise in just putting one foot in front of the other and only doing what is yours to do when it is time to do it, and only knowing what is yours to know when it is time to know it. Amen!
Next stop Dusseldorf!
XOXO, from me and lu