Over the weekend, we traveled through six states. We followed what had been a rare southern winter storm, seeing as much as 10 inches of snow outside of Padukah, Kentucky and finding that Florida really can be cold, too. What a treat it can be to step away from a daily routine, but coming back home is also a treat.
The hours and hours in the car can be exhausting, but also productive. Getting home, the routine quickly kicks in and yet there is new energy to do those daily chores that seem so tedious.
The traffic can be overwhelming and leaves one a sense of claustrophobia, yet the traffic teaches us the power of patience and forgiveness, too. And then, coming home the traffic seems to be no problem at all.
The speed of the trip did not allow for sightseeing, but seeing the many miles of road shows many interesting things. For instance, we were very impressed by the fences that line the highways of Florida. Very little roadkill was visible and the idea seems so logical, especially when crossing back into Missouri we can hardly travel a mile without roadkill.
The miles that we traveled were also tree-lined. So much of the highway system along these states were literally lined with trees, especially pine trees. I also was surprised how many miles of the interstate also had a barrier of trees between the two separate lanes–whether east and west or north and south. The tree-lined highway makes the insanity of traffic less stressful–at least for me as a passenger this time. Back home, the interstate system really is not tree-lined. Of course that is environmentally natural, but I certainly appreciate the miles that are cedar-lined or Ozark oak-lined.
The hospitality of the South is also evident. The clerks and the servers that greeted us as we made refueling and food stops is refreshing. Only once did we run into a questionable situation and that was in our home state as we departed. The host seated us, but we never were served. We literally had to get up and leave. Fortunately, we did not ever have to do that again. In fact, the service we had at the stops after that were delightful.
The food. Maybe there really is nothing more to say, other than one goal we make on our trips is to avoid the typical chain restaurants that exist around our home, and to really get a taste of the region. We had two meal stops, on the way home, that were outstanding. One in Tallahassee at Wahoo Seafood and a second in Marion, Illinois at 17th Street Barbecue. There is no way to explain the exceptional taste of those stops except I would plan a trip back just to enjoy those flavors again. Back home, for instance, I tied to make homemade mac and cheese to match the one in Tallahassee. Close, but not quite.
The point of the trip was a graduation ceremony. In today’s world of on-line education, all too often the students do not opt to join in a graduation ceremony. But we made the decision to invest in the ceremony and I am glad we did–despite the long hours in the car.
Celebrating life events has a value that cannot be explained logically, but psychologically it is wise. I was so impressed by the Walden University’s skill at putting on a ceremony that pulled together hundreds (I have no idea of the final count) of graduates–bachelors, masters, specialists and doctorates–to celebrate with family and friends.
The graduation speaker was Soledad O’Brien. What a treat for me. Soledad has been a journalist I enjoyed and had lost track of her. Seeing her name as the speaker, I looked forward to listening to her. She was real, honest, personable, and professional. No boredom at all and great words to mull over in the days, weeks, months ahead.
Thank you, Walden. You made the experience personal and impressive from the check-in to the following reception. You have let us return home with memories.
But today, I am back home and have finished catching up the laundry. Today the goal is to return to the ‘work’ routine that I need to re-establish. The trip provided new experiences and a winter-time break, but now back to daily life–mac & cheese, puppy love, laundry and all. What a treat the weekend road trip was, but back home looks pretty good, too.