It's incredibly strange to get on a flight in Denver and not feel like I need to say goodbye to the mountains and to say that I'm leaving home instead of going home. And yet, that's what this past Friday consisted of: a strange sense of nostalgia and déjà vu mixed with excitement and anticipation.
For the past 3 weeks, I have been walking to work because I didn't have a car with me in Colorado. Logan would drop me off at Starbucks around 7:15 on his way to work and then I would get a caramel macchiato (extra caramel) and hang out until 8:00/8:25 depending on when I was scheduled to start. My walk was almost always gorgeous - rainbows and morning sunshine with a view of the mountains in the distance. It was difficult to not have a car, though, and I had to take ubers and lyfts (Lyft gives you 10 free rides when you sign up!) a lot, which was always a stressful experience. Our apartment complex thankfully lets us have 2 cars for no extra charge, so mom and I immediately started planning a roadtrip.
Friday, Logan drove me to the airport where I got stuck in the security line because the power went off (for just the scanners? it didn't make sense). I made friends with the girl in front of me about the absurdity of the situation and then the power came back on and I was on my way. I flew with Frontier and it was the best boarding experience I have ever had - it took me 0.6 seconds to get on the plane, the stewards were incredibly nice, and the chair was decently comfortable. I read for most of the flight, slept for part of it, and stared lustfully out the window for the rest. I landed at 3:15 and was surprised by mom being in the baggage claim area! I hadn't seen her since July 14, so it was very good to see her again. We started driving around Greensboro, NC looking for lunch and finally came across a Chick-Fil-A. We got on the road at 4 EST and headed towards Kentucky! It was super strange to be on the East Coast again: driving through the mountains instead of just looking at them from a distance, listening to radio stations like 94.9, and being on Interstate 81. I drove for the first 6 hours because I missed my car so much, but eventually I pulled into a McDonald's and we got out for a bathroom break and mom took over the driving. It took us a few tries to get out of the McDonald's, but if you've ever roadtripped with myself or my mother, you know we don't mind circles. We started getting a little loopy and goofy at that point, and laughed a lot (especially about sweet tea, horse country, and distilleries). We finally pulled into our hotel in Louisville at around 12:30 am. By that point I had been in 5 states and 2 time zones that day and I was exhausted, so we promptly went to bed and slept to morning.
Saturday we woke up at 7:00 (well, I did, mom woke up at some ungodly hour as usual) and had breakfast in the hotel. The breakfast was mediocre and the service was slow, but that allowed mom to think about things that exist in Louisville, which is how we ended up walking along museum row and exploring the Muhammad Ali Center and the Louisville Slugger Museum. We had a great time walking around Kentucky and I can guarantee you that if you ask mom what her favorite part was, she would say it was the giant golden butt. We got on the road towards Kansas City at around 9:00 am. At a gas station in Indiana, mom got her first "roll tide" of the day. She got another one in Illinois at a Five Guys. We were walking in and I noticed a truck with an Alabama plate cover at the same time as the occupants noticed mom's shirt. They said to her, "just you wait, he'll be right out" as we headed inside. Sure enough, right before we ordered, he walked through the restaurant and, from the other side, pointed at mom and said "roll tide." It was wonderful and hilarious at at once. After eating our burgers, we drove through a mall parking lot and gained like 10 numbers each for our license plate game. A few minutes after leaving that area, we headed into St. Louis to try and find how to get up to the arch...turns out they're doing a ridiculous amount of construction underneath of the arch and it is impossible now. We got caught in game-day traffic for the Cardinals, but finally made it to 70 and headed West! Mom drove through St. Louis and into Kansas City and we arrived between 5 and 6. We freshened up in the hotel, and drove into the Plaza Shopping District for dinner at Jack Stacks bbq. There was an hour wait, so mom decided we should go shop some before and I got 3 shirts at Gap (for 40% off!) and then we had dinner sitting outside on the patio. Mom was getting the gluten free menu to her, and the manager was explaining that she could get a sandwich with a gluten free bun and mom responded "I just want a plate of meat." I had burnt ends and baby back ribs, mom had burnt ends and short ribs. It was absolutely delicious and neither one of us could finish. We went back to the hotel, I couldn't figure out how to work the shower and had the most miserable experience in a hotel shower ever, but mom was able to fix it and I ended up getting almost 9 hours of sleep.
Sunday morning we woke up and had a delicious buffet breakfast and headed west! Mom drove the first 3.5 hours and then I took over the rest of the way into Denver. We stopped at some weird rest stops where we saw the workers in their little vests and played in sprinklers, we identified sorghum plants without knowing anything about them, and we stopped at possibly my favorite rest stop in all of the U.S. - oasis in Colby, KS. Once we left Colby, the ride seemed to take forever, but we finally made it to my apartment. I also had my first real driving experience on Denver interstates and I only freaked out a little bit. It was great to be back at the apartment (Logan cleaned and hung curtains and went grocery shopping) and just not be in a car. All in all, mom and I had a fantastic time. She's easily my favorite roadtrip partner!