After 13 days of road-travel from Albuquerque to Orlando and back, I have so much to say. So instead of one looooonnnng tale, I'll try to get a few shorter posts out of this journey of ours.
First of all, we got back Monday night. We dropped S off at church camp for the week, which was a harrowing trip up the mountain on a bumpy dirt road. It was seven miles each direction and the whole trip up and back to the main highway was 2-1/2 hours, if that gives you any indication of the treachery. It would have been better in my Suburban or something that has 4WD, but on this trip, we were in Vannie White -- our 14-passenger van -- with no 4WD and front-end shocks that probably need an upgrade or repair after our Florida drive.
So our first night left us all a little jarred. J climbed into our bed and talked about how she felt like we should have seat belts -- three: one for Daddy, one for me and one for her -- because she'd done some sleeping on the long drive days and had gotten used to the feeling of sleeping while being securely fastened.
I dreamed of passing fields of grain -- ENDLESS, fields -- separated only by wide rivers. I told my mom about this and she said, "That sounds peaceful." I guess if I hadn't spent the prior two weeks doing that for hours each day, it might have seemed peaceful; but it was a little bit nightmarish in that "will this ever end?!" kind of way.
The next morning, Z told me he had a hard time sleeping because he felt pinned down to his bed after dreaming that he was still seat belted in.
Even C told me that when he had to drive in to work the next morning -- a 45-minute commute -- he was immediately tired and dreading 10 hours of driving even though logically he knew it wouldn't be that long at all, he psyched himself out about how excruciating it was going to be.
Road trips for a family of seven can be drudgery. However, in spite of the many hours on the road, I was quite impressed with our ability to endure each other's most bothersome habits while packed together in a close space through hot, humid and unfamiliar territory. And on the other side of that endurance, I believe that we learned good stuff about each other and about our limits and the lengths we'll go to in order to preserve our family as a whole.
This was not our first road trip by far and it won't be the last, I'm certain of it. It was our longest. And we survived! Not only that, but we are stronger for having made this journey.
To recap for those who haven't read earlier posts, we traveled from New Mexico to Orlando for C's work conference there. We spent five days on the road and stuck as close to the Gulf coast as possible along the way. After four nights in Orlando, we hopped back on the road for our journey home, circling back up and around through South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
There are places I already know I want to return to: Florida, Georgia and surprisingly (for me), Oklahoma, for sure. There were other states that I didn't enjoy quite as much and if I never get back to them ... I think I'll live. But the point is, I have been there so I could form some kind of opinion. Now, I have just six states to go till I'll have seen and visited them all. Here's a map that shows everywhere in U.S. I've been (granted, some -- especially in the North -- were when I was just a girl, so I wouldn't mind going back for another look).
I've been out of the country a few times, but always to different locations in Mexico (or Baja California, which I still consider Mexico). Someday, maybe I'll see more of the world.