Saturday, June 28, 2014

Home Sweet Home!

My daughter and I returned from a two week road trip last night around 7 pm.
Eleven hours of driving from Princeton, New Jersey yesterday.
Great conversation with my dear Kristiana. She asks great questions.
Music. NPR. Books on CD.
Fruit and water and crackers and corn chips.
Confederate flags on motorcycle helmets. Other motorcyclists pulling mini trailers.
Car accident ahead of us. Near standstill traffic for about 15 minutes.
Trucks wandering onto and off the shoulder of the highway.
Traveling mercies up and back and everywhere in between.

The first stop on our journey was after 12 hours of driving from Charlotte towards Massachusetts.
We stopped at one hotel and were told that they had several smoking rooms 
and one non-smoking room, but it had no air-conditioning. No thanks!
We got back into the car and Kristiana called two hotels to see if there was availability.
First one - nope. Second one - incompetent woman on the phone. No luck there.
Next stop - the Hyatt House in Whippany, NJ.
The man at the front desk said they had two room suites available for $199 a night.
Gulp! But I was tired of driving, so we reluctantly said, "Okay."
After a few seconds of staring at his computer monitor, he said they had no more two bedroom suites, but they had one bedroom suites available for $139. Not ideal, but definitely better.
After a few more seconds, he said they had no one bedroom suites, but they did have a two bedroom available after all - and he would only charge us $139. Awesome!

Separate bedrooms and bathrooms - felt like a gracious and spacious apartment.
I love a good deal and a well appointed hotel suite kitchen.

The next day we stopped in Norwalk, CT on our way north.
This is the house we lived in from 1997 until 2002. It's for sale again... 
So many good memories flooded back for me and Kristiana as we walked around and took photos.

One good Norwalk memory was of the year that Steve planted the three trees behind me. 
He strung Christmas lights on them that Christmas and every year thereafter.
When he planted them, they were shorter than us. 
I love seeing these signs and symbols of the passage of time and growth.
Apparently time flies whether or not you're having fun.

In Northampton, Massachusetts, we ate at Hinge, a lovely little restaurant, 
and were taken care of by a delightful waiter named Cobbie.
He was so polite and funny and informative that Kristiana said, "I bet he's from the South."
She was right - he was from Texas and has lived in Georgia and North Carolina for a while.
Hinge makes a fantastic black bean burger.

Kristiana and I travel well together. She's a great conversationalist but doesn't mind silence.
I wonder where she got that from.

Then we went to Amherst, where we met and had a lovely visit with Jena and Mani. 
Here we are sitting at their kitchen table enjoying breakfast and conversation.
I wish we'd had more time with them... someday I think we will.

There will be more stories and photos from this trip to come.
In the meantime, gratitude flows through my heart and mind today.

I drove more than 2,000 miles on this journey - no flat tires, no accidents, no tickets, no dings, no scratches, and no break-ins. 

We took the train from Connecticut into NYC this past Tuesday and had an absolute blast walking and shopping and eating and people watching and eating and walking some more. No losses, no pickpockets, no mishaps at all. 

We spent time in the homes of seven dear friends and family members - all of whom took impeccable care of us, walking with us, talking with us, telling stories and listening to ours. They fed us and ate food we brought. They gave up their bedrooms and couches and towels and sheets and so much food and drink for us and to us. They let us do laundry and raid their refrigerators. They drove us places and allowed us to drive them crazy.

The inspiration for the trip was Raquel and Jay's wedding. She is my niece and the youngest child of my oldest brother. We had a fantastic time celebrating their love and their union last Friday evening. We got to ride in a limo from my brother's house to the venue, thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony (even though the minister forgot to tell the congregation to sit down, so we stood up for the entire thing), ate and drank and danced and then were driven back to my brother's house sometime after midnight. The following morning, my sister-in-law, Joy, made us a fantastic breakfast and sent us merrily and contentedly on to the next stop on our adventure. 

The weather was fantastic the entire fortnight of our journey. We drove through a few light sprinkles on the trip home yesterday and hit torrential downpours when we were a mere ten minutes from home, already on the streets of our beloved home city. 

Thanks, many thanks to all the family and friends who hosted us and fed us and laughed with us, who told us your stories and listened to our stories, who showed us their love and generosity and hospitality. You made it an awesome trip. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Thanks, Jena and Mani
Dinah and Seth,
Kathy and Katie,
Christy and Emma,
Kevin, Karen, Alexa, Brandon, Danielle, and Zoe,
Otis and Joy,
All the family and friends we saw at Raquel and Jay's wedding,
Damele and Carlton,
Bill, Jill, Gemma, and Simon, Gideon, & Lucy (the last three are their THREE great danes!)
Will and Judy,
Susie and Pamela,
Cliffe, Sharon and Stuart,
Val and Sheldon,
and Cathy. 

Thanks be to our trusty Hyundai Sonata - that made the trip flawlessly.
Thanks, Steve, for taking care of the house and the boy and the beast while we were away.

It was great to hit the road and great to get back home.
Home sweet home!

Thanks be to God!

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