Tag Archives: midlife crisis

Day 22: Durham to Swansboro – Nephews

On September 14 around 12:19pm, my sister sent me a text, “It’s raining like crazy here. Are you still on the road?”

Aww…that was awful sweet of her thinking about her big sister getting wet on the road, especially when you consider she had been in labor for a little more than 4 hours now. Guess, she was bored or something.

But seems my nephew was waiting to make his grand debut until I arrived while mother nature decided to dump a rogue cell of downpour right over where I was headed. The view out the window of my lunch stop said 85F and sunny, but the radar on my phone said, “You are going to get wet, very wet.” See Jacksonville there.

This was the last leg of my ride across the continent. I was looking forward to long stay with family. So, I didn’t really care much about a little water. I added rain covers to my luggage and headed out. Fortunately, I timed my arrival in Swansboro to be between waves of down pours and as I parked in the garage, the skies opened up and dumped an amount of water that only seems logical and possible if you live in coastal North Carolina. And about an hour later, my arrival got upstaged by the appearance of Alex Koamalu (Alex “Peaceful Courage” for those mainlanders not versed in Hawaiian).

Good timing, right?

Last time I visited my sister, I offered to pick up my nephew (Alex’s big brother, Evan) from daycare and take him to the aquarium. At that time, I, the childless one, got plenty of coaching, plenty of just-in-case stuff in a backpack and plenty of text message check ins during our three hour outing. That was way back in February. This time, with much on their mind, my sister and brother-in-law sent me off with Evan for bath and bedtime then breakfast with little more than “See y’all tomorrow.” I’ve heard parents get more lax after the second child, I just didn’t know it happened within moments of that second child’s arrival.

So, after a bath time that seemed less about cleaning and more about playing with boats in water and the daily “star” board, I proceeded to get tricked by a 3-year-old into reading about 25 bedtime stories and letting him sleep on the big bed with me. The former was around 10x his normal story hour and the latter involved having a toddler kick you right between the shoulder blades a few times a night and somehow relinquishing all but a slim edge of a bed to him. Then, an early rising from which he emerged seeming to have slept soundly despite the need to rotate stomach-to-back and head-to-toe multiple times, we had morning selfie session. All just a gentle reminder why I didn’t have my own mini-me or two.

I shall remain Auntie Awesome, thank you very much.

And now, offered for the edifice of my nephews, a montage of Auntie Awesome moments or as my nephew Dylan says “Boring Aunt Kimi” moments. I don’t think his vocabulary is very strong. He clearly doesn’t know the difference between boring and awesome. When will I have a niece?

Auntie Awesome playing keep the phone away from the Tornadoes.

Fighting Pancreatic Cancer with Auntie Awesome.

More keep away from the Tornadoes.

Yep, even more keep away from Tornadoes (there is also video).

Selfies with Auntie Awesome’s phone.

Marching and protesting in style with Auntie Awesome.

Looking cool on the subway with Daddy (tired Daddy?).

After a day of Awesomeness with Auntie Awesome.

Off to fight fires with Auntie Awesome.

Breakfast with Auntie Awesome.

Auntie Awesome is the best babysitter.

Chillin’ in the park, awesome-style.

Happy cooking and being boring.

Day 2: Austin to Panaca via the Extraterrestrial Highway

No knows you’re crying when you’re in a helmet…

And alone, on a motorcycle, on a two lane blacktop, in the middle of nowhere, sliding through he landscape at 75 miles per hour.

After burning off the “getting started jitters” of yesterday, there was more space between my ears for thoughts. And thoughts there were. Lots of stuff surfaced on today’s ride. Lots of feels. Lots and lots and lots of feels.

I hit the road at 6:15am. I love that hour. There is a quality to the air that crisp, cool and quiet don’t adequately capture, but my brains too dizzy to come up with more. Leaving Austin wakes you up quickly as the Lincoln Highway climbs into the Toiyabe Forest and around Mt. Prometheus. My shuffle playlist must have recognized the need for a wake up call as it offered up Run DMC and Easy-Easy to kick things off.

On the other side of Mt. Prometheus, I descended into Big Smoky Valley and hang a right between two jagged lines of mountains. The contrast between mountain line and valley is stark and sudden. Turning into Big Smoky Valley is a newly paved two-lane blacktop running straight down the valley for as far as I can see. Finding myself here, in the middle of nowhere, on two-wheels alone felt crazy and ridiculous and audacious and awesome all at once. I giggled my way along for a bit and then reveled in the vastness of Nevada and the tininess of me zipping along this black ribbon in the valley.

At my morning coffee stop in Carvers, Nevada, a trickle of a cellular signal delivered a message from my husband. He is joining me in Monday for a few days of riding in Colorado. As some of you may have surmised from previous posts, I wasn’t in in California and on this road trip just for a vacation. I exited myself there to escape my real world problems. My mother died last year, my midlife career change was stalled and my marriage was suffering. This reality break and trip was meant to be a reset.

As I pulled out of the gas station and back on to Highway 376, the gravity of our reunion after 9 weeks was suddenly overwhelming. I gushed with excitement and nervousness and then I gushed from my eyeballs.

The 100 miles of asphalt on 376 saw my laughter, awe and tears. But now, the time of existential deep thinking was over and the time for extraterrestrial discovery was underfoot. By the way, I found myself pondering an awful lot about the highway crew that paints these far off roads. Double lines, broken lines, alternating lines all put in with a lot of thought for a roads that see only a few hundred vehicles a day.

I filled up at Tonopah, Nevada (which as I found out from a Austin local means ‘greasewood water’ in Shoshone). This is the last chance for gas along the Extraterrestrial Highway (Highway 375) for another 154 miles. As I was getting anywhere from 55 to 65 miles per gallon in my 2.96 gallon tank, I thought this might be the time I would tap into my spare tank. To be sure, I was going to keep myself to 69mph for the whole distance. Off to find little green men.

Over the entire 92 miles plus a stop at the Little Ale Inn (pronounced Little Alien), I found no aliens. Although, I did have a lovely BLT. There were cows, lots of cows. It’s open range here and there are cows. When I stopped to put on my cooling vest and a new bandana, a few started might have mistaken me for an alien and started trotting my way. There were also Joshua Trees, lots and lots of Joshua Trees. Shout out to the History Chicks for keeping me company on this stretch with their Marie Curie Part I and Part II.

Not sure why aliens would have landed here, but it was worth the side trip anyway. I kept it at 60-65 mph and as I left Rachel, Nevada, my gas meter ticked down to the last dot with 40 miles to go. Part of me wanted to use the gas in that spare tank because I brought it so I could do something reckless like take off on a long stretch with no gas stations. The other part of me didn’t want to pull over and have to unload stuff to get to the tank.

In the end, I made it and managed an amazing 65 miles per gallon. Nice. At the Ash springs stop I met some fine travelers over ice cream. To Patrick, the Apache-Chippewa from New Mexico living in Vegas, if you are reading this, thank you for the new power adaptor. Your kindness warmed my heart as I headed off to Panaca.

This was a long day – 335 miles. I created new rituals around my gas stops and decided to make them longer. Take off the gloves and helmet, take off the backpack, grab a parking spot and take 20 minutes to walk around and stretch (to touches, twists, ham stretch, wrist stretch). I also paid attention to posture and leg position. It paid off. My ass and lower back didn’t ache at the end of the day. I did leave my earplugs in a bathroom in Tonopah, so my brain is buzzy tonight. Another casualty – so far scoring one every day. Gotta stop that.

I felt good enough this evening to opt for an additional 25 miles to the dinner at the next town and a side trip to Cathedral Gorge State Park . Silver Cafe is a lovely little place, but I am ready for something other than gas station or dinner food tomorrow night.

Now, off to bed with me. I am looking forward to this comfy bed at the Pine Tree BnB tonight.

Happy cooking and UFOing!