Tag Archives: road trip

Road Trip Through The Night


My cousin Keith got married on October 7, in one of those small exclusive weddings that makes everyone who is invited feel like they’ll miss out if they don’t show up. The wedding was to be held at a ranch outside of Salt Lake City, which promised beautiful views and abundant wildlife, and good times were anticipated by all.

Matt decided to fly to Salt Lake City from DC. Ben had to attend a conference in Wyoming, so he drove to that, and from there spent a week hiking and camping alone before making his way to the wedding venue. The rest of us thought, “hey, Salt Lake City isn’t very far away! Let’s drive! Together! Through the night! It will be like a giant moving sleepover!

We had a plan.

We’d leave at 10 pm, Pacific Time, in our red minivan. Jenny would drive for the first three hours or so, then Dad would take a shift, and then Amy. By 11 am Mountain Time, we’d be in Salt Lake City, after 12 hours of driving.

I got in the front passenger seat to keep Jenny awake. We started the van, and began backing out of the driveway.

“Wait!” said Amy. “Is one of our tires low? This van is vibrating like one of our tires is low.”

Jenny stopped the van. Dad got out and checked. No, none of the tires were low. We got back in and backed the rest of the way out of the driveway.

Amy, Steven, Mom, and Dad relaxed in their seats and tried to go to sleep. I relaxed in my seat and tried not to go to sleep. It was hard. I was tired, it was near my bedtime, and the van, despite its tendency to vibrate more than usual, was lulling me to sleep. “Are you okay if I sleep a little?” I asked Jenny.

“Please don’t sleep,” said Jenny. “When I asked Dad where to go he said to ‘Get on the 205,’ and then he went to sleep, and I’m not exactly sure what he means.”

And so our trip began, with Jenny driving and me navigating. Just to be clear, my version of “navigating” was to say, “hmm, I think I-205 takes off of I-5 around exit 283…nope, I guess not, there’s no signs for it…oh, there’s a sign, it’s exit 288.” There’s signs for everything these days; who needs a GPS? Who even needs a map?

In Portland we got onto I-84, and began a midnight drive along the Columbia River Gorge. This was the area that got destroyed so terribly in the Eagle Creek Fire, and I strained my eyes through the faint smoky haze that still hung in the air, trying to assess the damage. Against the full moon I saw trees. Trees with leaves. So perhaps they were mostly undamaged after all? The ones along the road at least?

The exits to Multnomah Falls were blocked off. We rounded a corner, and suddenly the trees stood stark and black against the sky, just for a short stretch, and then we saw leaves again.

I was so curious to see how it looked by daylight. But like all wise men, we ended up returning by another way, so I never saw.

Jenny began to grow a little tired. “Hey look, I think that’s a dam!” she said of the white structure to our left that glowed oddly in the moonlight. I squinted at it for a second, puzzled by its oddly train-like appearance, when Jenny corrected herself. “Oh wait, that’s just a train,” she said sheepishly.

Dad woke up around 1 am. “You ready for me to take over?”

I don’t know about Jenny, but I sure was. Jenny and I moved to the middle, Mom and Dad moved up front, and I tried to sleep.

The odd vibrations of the van made sleep difficult at first, but I managed eventually. I slept for hours and hours, waking only when it was Amy’s turn to drive and Jenny and I moved to the back seat.

When I woke up it was Friday morning, and we were a good ways through Idaho. With greasy hair and un-brushed teeth, we had just a few more hours of driving until we’d reach Salt Lake City, and after that, a few more hours to kill before we could get into our rental house.

But I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.


The Great Colorado Adventure

A couple weeks ago, on a fine Saturday afternoon, me, Dan, Preston, Justin, and Stephy took a road trip to Colorado.


I sat in the back seat. This was my view.


We stopped at Multnomah Falls. Everyone pulled out their smart phones to see if Multnomah falls is anything special, like the tallest waterfall in North America or something.

I tell you, road trips with smart phones are a whole different ballpark than road trips without smart phones.

Of course the info they were googling for was right on the plaque behind them.

It is the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States.


The topography in extra-eastern Oregon always reminds me of how I imagine the wild English moors to be whenever I read “Wuthering Heights” or “Jamaica Inn.”


We stopped in The Dalles. The thrift store we visited had some bizarre mannequins on display.



Dan’s sister and her husband own this amazing old motel in eastern Oregon. That’s where we stopped for the night.

Me bar

I got some tea and sat at the bar and imagined that my friends and I were settling political disputes that would end in a bar fight and a pistol fired at the chandelier.


Sunday morning we were up bright and early for a long day of driving. The skies got sunnier and the ground got browner as we drove along.

We spent Sunday night in Montrose Colorado with another of Dan’s siblings, and then left Monday morning for Canon City.

Yes, Canon City, where I lived four years ago. Justin, Dan, Preston, and Stephy had a good friend at Bible School named Heather who is now living in Canon City also, so the main objective of the trip was to go see her.


That’s Heather on the exercise machine. They house we stayed at had exercise equipment that people would randomly use.

Dan and Preston were busy playing “four pics one word,” which is a smartphone app that we played relentlessly during this trip, everyone competing against each other by trying to see who could get furthest along in the game.

As I said, traveling with smartphones is not like traveling without smartphones.


Monday evening we just chilled. Justin took too mega-stuffed oreos and put them together into a mega-mega-stuffed oreo.

Tuesday we all headed to Colorado Springs and fulfilled a childhood dream: Visiting Whit’s end.







After that we went to the mall and tested mattresses.


Wednesday we went to this wild western restaurant way up in the hills. It was called the “General Store,” even though you couldn’t buy any general things there except things like general bacon and general eggs and general coffee, already prepared and ready to eat.

General Store


All the locals told us we had to eat there, and they also told us there were dogs in the restaurant.

Dogs in the restaurant? Hmm. I imagined that they would probably be running around under the table begging for spare scraps of bacon. Instead they were enclosed in a pen of sorts.


I kept waiting for one of the dogs to stand up and give a speech from that podium, but it never happened.


When I lived here, Skyline Drive was the thing to do on a Saturday night. After the resturant experience was over, we all headed to Skyline to see the view and take pictures.


Hey look, it’s me and Stephy and Heather and Colorado.


Justin and Stephy. How presh.

They told me that when they went to Bible School people thought they were dating.

I thought that was funny.

They’re actually brother and sister.

Just so you know.


Heather insisted that we must experience the redneck bliss that is “subbing.”

Subbing is driving along back mountain roads in a suburban with the top cut off.

Despite Heather’s enthusiasm in this picture…


…she’s not a fan.

me sub

I put a scarf over my ears to keep them warm.

“You look like a woman riding in a convertible in the 50’s,” said Stephy.

“You look like Thelma and Louise,” said Dan.

(Later I dreamed that my sister Amy and I were Thelma and Louise in a magical green car from the 50’s.)


The back country roads took us to this little Wild West town full of casinos.

As far as I could gather, it was once a mining town, which became a ghost town because it was in such a remote area. Wanting to revive the town and preserve its history, Colorado voted to let it have casinos.

We didn’t go into any casinos. We just walked around admiring the historical buildings, ate lunch, and then went subbing back home.


I took a nap, and missed the great excitement that ensued when Preston found a scorpion crawling on him.

Stephy decided to fly to Ohio and see her boyfriend instead of driving home with us. So Thursday morning everyone else took Stephy to the airport while I hung out with people I’d known when I lived in Colorado.

That evening we left to go home.

The ride back was very uneventful. We drove straight through the night, so I slept a lot of the time, and when I wasn’t sleeping we occupied ourselves by listening to Odyssey.


And then, as soon as I got home Spring term started and I didn’t find time to post a bevy of pictures until now.

But now they are posted.

And I hope you are satiated.

Moonlit Musings


The van sways, and I hear a crinkle as Dan opens another energy drink. Justin shifts in his seat. I hope he can sleep. I hope Preston can sleep, in his cramped seat, only partially reclined because Justin sits behind him.

I wish I could sleep.

I have the entire back bench to myself, and slept delightfully for the first few hours. Every time I woke up there was a soothing melody on the radio to lull me back to sleep. “Forget what we’re told, before we get too old,” and then I’d dose off again.

Then I got a backache. Maybe the seat belt buckle was digging into my back for too long. I tried to ignore the pain, but I cannot fall back to sleep.

I sit up, doing strange silent stretches to ease sore muscles. We are in the wilderness, surrounded by giant hills lit up in the moonlight.

I look carefully at the moon, trying to see a face.

On Monday, Dan insisted that there was a face on the moon, that he’d always been able to see it.

“You can see anything on the moon if you look hard enough,” said Justin, laughing.

“No, I’m serious, it’s there,” said Dan.

We shook our heads and laughed.

Later, as we were walking into Walmart, I saw Dan looking intently at his phone, then at the moon, then back at his phone. He stepped sideways suddenly, still looking at the moon, and crashed into me.

“Woah,” I said. “What are you doing?” I looked at his phone, which had a picture of a white circle with three black spots.

“I’m trying to draw the face on the moon,” said Dan.

Now, at four thirty in the morning, I try to recall Dan’s picture as I look at the moon. Ah! There they are, the three black dots that could be eyes and an open mouth. I wonder why I’ve never seen this before.

We round a corner, and suddenly, instead of moonlit hills, I see a valley filled with city lights. Just like that, wilderness to civilization. In my euphoric tired-but-awake state of mind, the scene is doubly breathtaking.

Where are we? Are we out of Colorado? Are we in Utah? I scan road signs for clues, to no avail. I bet we’re in Utah. Utah roads stretch on forever, taking you everywhere. Driving through Utah makes me think of the words of Tolkien.

The road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began

Now far ahead the road has gone

And I must follow of I can

Pursuing it with eager feet

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet

And whither then? I cannot say.

Big World, Long Drive

“In short words, the reason I went to college was because I found that the more I learned, the bigger my world got, and I wanted my world to be the biggest it could be.”

-Amos Yoder, my grandfather

Monday evening we arrived at my grandpa and grandma’s house in Minnesota.  I hadn’t seen my mother’s parents for six years. In those six years I have become quite fascinated with my Grandpa’s life.

Grandpa lying down for a nap, reading himself to sleep just as I do.

As an Amish boy, Grandpa decided to go to college, and got his master’s degree. He remained Amish, and at the time was the only person ever to get a college degree and remain Amish. Since then there have been a few others, but there are still only a handful of people who have accomplished this.

Right now Grandpa is ninety-five and as sharp as ever. He is currently working on his memoirs, writing about the days he spent in Paraguay after WW2, helping Russian Mennonite refugees who were relocating to that area.

Needless to say, I was anxious to ask him about some of these things. Unfortunately he’s kind of hard of hearing, being ninety-five and all. But when I asked him why he went to college, he said the opening quote, which also sums up why I am in college.

Grandpa, Grandma, and four of their children

The first order of business was to introduce Grandpa and Grandma to Justice, their first great-grandchild. This was such an iconic family moment that every camera on the premises was flashing in their faces. Paparazzi jokes were made.

Of course we all gathered around the living room and chatted.

Yes, I know the picture is blurry, but it was the best I could find. I am stealing pictures from everyone’s cameras to do these blog posts, and I’m not really sure who took which pictures.

I found a whole bunch of pictures of feet, which I presume Fred took, as it seems like something he would do. This picture cracks me up because between Jenny and I there are three feet, and the middle one looks like it could belong to either of us.

The top half. I have tea. Does Jenny want it? Hmm.

Early Tuesday morning Amy, Dad, and Aunt Rebecca flew to their respective homes. Jenny, Mom, and I made applesauce for Grandma.

Wednesday, aka today, was the funeral of Susannah, the grandmother of Annette and Janet on their mother’s side. Mark and Janet cut their honeymoon short in order to come to the funeral, and it appears that since their wedding, both of them got sick with terrible colds. 😦

(I just realized that the above paragraph sounds like some of the stuff I read in my grandparent’s copy of The Budget. Wow. Okay, moving on.)

Mom, Jenny and I babysat baby Justice while Annette was at the funeral. I feel like an aunt to that child, not only because I changed his diapers, but because I have a weird urge to post millions of pictures of him on my blog.

But no, I’ll resist that urge.

Okay fine. Just one more.

Goodnight for now. Tomorrow I will post the last installment of this trip, about the road home.

Never mind. I wrote this up on Wednesday, as we were driving, but I couldn’t get both an internet connection and a charged computer battery at the same time and so I never posted it.

Here is a brief summery of how the drive home went:

Driving, driving, driving, carsick, driving, sandwiches from the cooler, driving, sleeping, sleeping, mom making you sleep in the back seat with Jenny so she can sit up front and sleep without getting kicked in the face, sleeping, getting kicked in the face, sleeping, waking, meeting Aunt Geneva in Spokane for breakfast, accidentally talking about my diarrhea problems in front of the waitress, driving, driving, carsick, driving, home.

The end. See you some other day when I have things to post about besides driving.

Stylin’ Miles

This has been the summer of road trips, I tell you. If “road trip” can be defined as “5+hours in the car at one shot,” then I am currently on my fourth.

I keep running across blogs and Instagram accounts and articles about movies where girls go on road trips and dress stylishly. There is something so adventuresome and glamorous about road trip style.

Unfortunately, road trips generally find me in ugly t-shirts with messy hair and gross teeth.

Well, I decifded that this road trip was going to be different. I carefully planned nice outfits to wear while I traveled, and decided to blog about the trip as I went along. This turned out to work quite well since Jenny-the-photographer came along, as did Matt-who-has-internet-on-his-phone.

Day 1 outfit: Yellow t-shirt I got from mom for Christmas, blue skirt Amy gave me because it was too big (I sewed it smaller), and glittery flip-flops I got at goodwill for, I don’t know, three bucks maybe? I got them with thick heels so they can last me summer after summer.

Instead of wearing my hair up with a covering I wore it in two knotted braids with a beanie that my cousin-and-a-half Simone gave me. This allowed me to do things like sleep without bobby pins poking into my head and my bun falling out and turning into dreadlocks.

This is me making sandwiches. We are such a cheap family. I love it.

As you can see I am wearing gray pj pants in this pic, not a blue skirt. Sometimes comfort and modesty trump fashion, so I wear the pj’s in the car and pull on the skirt over top whenever we get out.

Jenny is so cool.

I am not quite as cool. Ha ha.

Jenny loves life.

I feel like there is much more clever stuff I should say about this road trip, but wow I am tired and carsick. Which is another thing. Do the stylish people in the blogs and movies get carsick and tired?

Do they spill tea on their skirt? Do they start to stink? Do they accidentally kick their sister in the chin while trying to stretch their legs? Do they beg the driver for a potty break?

Right now Dad doesn’t have his hearing aids in and Jenny is trying to discuss potty breaks with him. However, she can’t talk too loud, because Matt is trying to catch a few winks before driving all night. So it goes like this:

Jenny: How long until the next rest stop?

Dad: Huh?

Jenny: How long till the next rest stop?

Dad: What?

Jenny: (tries to lean in closer and crushes my legs in the process) How long till the next rest stop?

Dad: We’ll stop for gas in about two hours. Do you need a potty break?

Jenny: Well, I could use one but I can still wait a while longer.

Dad: What?

Ah, the glamorous road trip life…