Road Trip Day 1: Vermont to Nebraska [Death, New Beginnings, and Old Friends]

There are a few moments in the life of a family that are foundational, concrete changes.  These include deaths, births, new jobs, new homes, and moving out.  This past week, our clan experienced two of these.

My grandmother, Hilma May Clark, passed away after a long and healthy life of being a beautiful grandmother.  I remember picking fresh blueberries in the rainforests of Alaska, and bringing them to her to bake us some Swedish Blueberry Bread.  She was the absolute matriarch of our family, and she leaves not a vacancy of loss but a vacancy of just being there.  She was a constant person in my life since I was born, even sneaking me behind the bar at the restaurant she worked at to steal me some maraschino cherries when I was a toddler.

As I made travel plans to fly home and support the family with her passing, I also found out my little sister (who was planning on moving to Portland anyway) needed a co-pilot to drive her 1999 Jeep Wrangler from Vermont to Oregon.  Everything lined up perfectly, and we left Saturday morning at 9:30.

The Jeep, ready to roll.

Saying goodbye to my parents was especially harder this time, as I left with my sister.  With my grandmother gone and now Jess, they would truly experience an empty nest for the first time.  Maybe it was just a release of the compounded emotions of the week.  Either way, tears were flying as we all said our final goodbyes before the trip.

Google Maps was our guiding star, leading us into New York and through the Adirondacks.  The snow was beautiful and I was surprised to find us passing through Speculator – the same town I went to summer camp in as a little boy.  The town has hardly changed.

A quick stop for coffee in Rochester, NY was not nearly enough to catch up with an old friend.  Ryder and I were buddies when growing up and the last time we saw each other we were blowing dust out of Nintendo cartridges.  It was great seeing him again, and we look forward to seeing him on the left coast soon.

Time for old friends.

We then made our way through Pennsylvania and Ohio. The initial plan was to stop off in Cleveland for the night but the area was under a winter storm warning. We could stop and spend the next day in a blizzard, or keep trucking and skip it all.  We opted to skip it.

The snowy roads of Ohio.

The Jeep continued through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

We did pull of somewhere in Ohio for a couple of hours of “sleep” (the seats can’t recline and the 8 degree temps were far from sleepable).

Wathcing the sunrise from the driver’s seat: Morning in Illinois.

I did however manage to break my personal best record for longest driving without a break (the 2 hours of sleep is being reviewed by the judges) but I am happy with a 26 hour stretch.

No sleep til this point: Brooklyn, Iowa.

Pulling into Lincoln, Nebraska we decided to take it easy and get out of the Jeep.  With a quick visit with family and some delicious local beers, we headed back to the hotel and got a great night’s sleep.

Getting gas somewhere in Iowa.

 VEGAN SITUATION:

I have been living off a giant bag of pretzels and Clif Bars with the occasional stop at Subway.  We did find a Chipotle in Ohio (but with no Sofritas!) Less than optimal, but we hope to make Salt Lake tonight (the US’ #1 vegan city as names by VegNews!) and as we move West the options will open up.

I have noticed the larger truck stops (Loves, Flying J, TA) have a large selection of seeds, nuts, and vegan snacks.  They will work in a pinch!

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