Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ode to Lincoln Nebraska: A Roadtrip Story

Parts one and two of my three part quest to collect the last member of my family (that 140 pound dog that's too big for planes) from the wilds of Michigan have been completed. Part one went better than I could have hoped and part two was absolutely, fabulously epic. It deserves three adjectives, I promise. Boy, do I have some great memories now.

Part one as a reminder, was a solo trek with my two year old, Lyra, from our home in Fernley, Nevada, to Drake, Colorado where my parents live. It was rather tame, all things considered. Lyra watched the car TV for two days straight, had McDonalds for most every meal, and ate entirely too much candy. She was happy as could be and didn't give me any trouble. I'm shocked, quite frankly. The first day we stopped three times and the second day we only stopped twice. That's it! We stopped in Salt Lake the first night and had a great dinner with friends that we will have to visit with more in the future. It felt like a vacation, not a quest. We made it to Colorado with very little fuss. I had minor car troubles, my transmission is testy, but as long as we go slow up the hills, I have some faith we will make it back to Nevada. 

The road trip part two was epic. I left Lyra with my parents overnight and took my brother, Martin, and friend, Jeri, along with me for company. We departed for Lincoln, Nebraska to meet up with my in-laws who were bringing the dog from Michigan, and one of my closest childhood pals, Jake, who happens to live in Lincoln and doesn't mind a spur of the moment visit. Only a little bit of a random assortment of people to see all at once. Especially considering I was bringing my current in-laws along to meet my first husband, I mean Jake here, I'll explain. Long story short, Jake and I were two of the most easily coerced/forced victims in a church camp theater act of the Jacob/Leah/Rachel bible story orchestrated by none other than my mother. We were bribed with baby bottle pops because that was a big deal when you're ten in the 90's. We never got officially divorced, I think that's just too much paperwork to deal with. Thanks again, Mom. I think I forgot to mention the whole first husband thing to my in-laws. Oops, in my defense, I simply forgot to mention it. 

So we set off on a Saturday, bright and early. Just kidding, we were like 15 minutes late because first, I knocked over a bowl of cereal on my shorts with Lyra's life size plastic shark (thanks for the consideration you show with your gift choices, Martin) and then Lyra wanted to nurse. And then as we were finally leaving, both Jeri and Martin had to stop to pee because they somehow didn't have time for that while I was nursing Lyra for 10 minutes. They were worse than the pregnant lady.

Our first stop of the trip was my hometown, good old Greeley, Colorado, for gas and food. And also to empty, yet again, two absurdly small bladders and my own pregnant one. I felt like a fool as we pulled into Starbucks and I realized my shirt was on backwards. After laughing at me, my supposed best friend said, "I thought your shirt looked funny." Thanks for the heads up, pal. After a second wardrobe readjustment we hit the road again with a fabulous eclectic and rapidly growing playlist. Interrupted only by YouTube video breaks. My Google search history is now full of everything from "Ludacris raps Llama Llama Red Pajama" to "Actual Cannibal Shia Lebouf" and "Flight of the Concords You Don't Have to be a Prostitute." Every one of those is worth watching, give it a go. You're welcome.

It looked a little stormy for about 5 minutes on the eastern edge of Colorado so we launched in to storm stories. And Martin (our driver at the time) made sure to tell us, "If you see a tornado make sure to holla at your girl." Which became road trip quote number one. We had to stop at the Nebraska sign and take pictures. Which is where this gem of a photo occurred. I just couldn't resist the opportunity to scare the shit out of my little brother. I mean, just zoom in and it gets better and better.

There are seriously too many good photos to include here. Go follow my Instagram (@miriamghoward) or Facebook if you want the rest of them. After laughing so hard we cried, we were on our way again, Martin at the wheel, myself with shotgun privileges because no one wants the pregnant lady to get carsick. We were casually chatting about the Kool-aid museum we wanted to stop at (a let down, trust me) when I felt something tickle behind me ear. I reached up, felt a bug or something, and as I pulled my hand away to see what it was, I realized it was a tick. Naturally, I jumped and screamed and reflexively threw it away from me. Unfortunately, I threw it in my brothers direction.  He was naturally a bit concerned and confused about what was occurring. He started screaming something along the lines of, "Oh my God! What the fuck? What the hell is wrong with you? What did you throw at me??" Meanwhile, I was writhing in terror in my seat screaming, "There's a tick! There was a tick on me!" So Martin started yelling back, "Why did you throw it at me?!? I'm driving, why would you do that?" After this back and forth, some hysterical laughter and intense searching mid drive for the missing tick we had to make a stop for lunch and gas. The story doesn't end here, not even close, but we will get to that in due time.

As we pull into the complex with the Q-doba we are aiming for, we all see it at roughly the same moment. The entire car let out this collective gasp as we spotted a giant Sinclair dinosaur statue complete with saddle. Immediately I'm all, "Pull over, pull over! We have to stop here!" So that's exactly what we did.

We grabbed burritos to go and were on our way again in short order. Jeri gave Martin a scare the first 17 times she burped, she really puts some power into them, if you know her, you'll know what I mean here. We are driving down the highway and I'm still shotgun at this point but Martin is in the backseat. I turned to him and said, "Ugh, I feel like I am getting phantom itches because of that damn tick." Martin let out a huge, dramatic gasp (bigger than our combined Sinclair dinosaur reaction), his eyes bugged out and he said very intensely, "Oh my God, don't move." I sensed the seriousness of the situation, froze, and started yelling, "Where is it, where is it? Get it off me!" Luckily, the tick wasn't on me, it was on the seat back behind me doing a stealth crawl up towards me. Martin grabbed it in a napkin and tried to squash it. Turns out ticks are hard to kill. So Jeri is just laughing and driving and trying to keep us from crashing. I'm screaming, "Kill it! KILL IT!" And Martin is shrieking, "It won't die! It won't fucking die!!" in a progressively higher pitched tone of voice. I finally calm down enough to say, "Throw it out the window," and Martin looks intensely pained before rolling down the window and saying, "I just hate to litter," quite sadly and tossing the tick, napkin and all, out onto the highway. Absolute insanity.

The rest of the drive was a little tamer. There was a lot of Martin dancing to 90's songs. We arrived in Lincoln and reunited with Schrodinger (aka big Mastiff dog for whom I go to ridiculous lengths) for a few minutes before locking him in the air conditioned back of the Jeep to calm down and nap. We all headed to dinner which was a good reunion, first husband, in-laws, and all. Afterwards, the in-laws headed off to rest from their journey while the rest of us headed to the souvenir shop because we had decided we desperately needed matching corn shirts to match our matching corn beanie hats we'd acquired at a gas station. And boy, did we find them. The checkout lady gave Jeri quite the talk about how rare these corn shirts were and how lucky we were to find three of them. They were real uniCORN shirts, haha. Nebraska, man, what a glorious place.

After that Jake and Martin spent some time reconnecting and reminiscing over their bromance. In addition to being my first husband, Jake was also my little brother's childhood church camp buddy. I convinced them to share a s'more, Lady and the Tramp style. That memory will live with me forever. My favorite moment might have been when Martin said to Jake, "Bro, your beard tickles." I did not appreciate these two properly as teenagers.

I was only allowed to use this photo after promising to specify there was a s'more there. There really was. #bromaceforlife

The evening and next morning were a now typical hilarity filled event. Jeri and I shared a bed and sometime during the night she moved and I thought she was Lyra. So I grabbed her arm and began patting her to try and get her to go back to sleep. At some point I was confused enough to sit up and look around and say, "Lyra? Where's Lyra? Lyra's not here....I don't think Lyra is here...." before giggling to myself and laying back down to sleep. Somehow everyone else slept through this.

When we woke up I texted the in-laws to meet before we all left. Unfortunately, I had to text back again that we were running late. Martin used body lotion instead of regular soap in the shower. Apparently, that can be a hard situation to remedy quickly. I wouldn't know. I can differentiate the word "soap" from "lotion." I did however have my karmic retribution for that mockery when I put on Martin's glasses instead of my own. I felt some legitimate panic that I was going blind or had ruined my glasses overnight somehow. That's how I learned my brother and I have similar taste in eyeglasses but vastly different prescriptions.

The kennel strapped to the Jeep set up that destroyed our milage.

Our trip home was remarkably uneventful considering the 140 pound cargo in the trunk. We stopped and took many more ridiculous photos. At the Colorado border decked out in our corn shirts and beanies, someone yelled at us to, "Go back!" Jokes on them, we were back.

So here we sit, in Colorado, waiting until Wednesday to head out. My brother is coming with me to drive back to Fernley and stay for a few days. More road trip adventures await! My plans changed this time due to my brothers new job schedule and Travis' upcoming surprise work trip to Bolivia.   And there you have it, that's how my roadtrip to Lincoln, Nebraska was one of the most epic roadtrip adventures thus far. Who woulda known. 

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