We Chepitas love our cars. Hard. I’m talking daily-commute, weekend-adventures-anywhere-within-a-300-mile-radius hard. May-2-4-jaunts-all-around-New-England hard. Annual-multi-thousand-mile-vacations hard. Big summer road trip destinations of the past include Wyoming, New Orleans, Arizona, Florida, Mexico (in the good old days when you could cross the US-Mexico border without fear of never being heard from again), Oregon, Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, and Mississippi. When we get where we’re going, we drive around some more, exploring the area. So, we change cars more frequently than most people we know. We’re picking up a new one tomorrow, in fact, and trading in our current ride. There are two benefits to this: 1) we will have a perfect, never-driven vehicle to use and abuse and love into the ground and 2) we will not have to clean our car, a task that would make even Mr. Clean lose his perpetual grin (and maybe even uncross his arms).
However, so as to maintain our dignity (and to keep Mazda from refusing to deal with us ever again), we have removed all surface debris from our outgoing vehicle. There was an impressive pile of trash – used kleenexes (shudder), crumpled candy wrappers, broken crayons, bedraggled hair accessories. Under Bridget’s booster seat, there were crumbs from all four food groups, plus the ones known mainly to parents of young children, such as “chocolate”, “animal-shaped” and “neon”. A handful of gummy bears have made themselves part of the floor. It took us years of popcorn-encrusted mats to figure out that Cracker Jacks, being covered in caramel-flavoured Krazy Glue, are not a wise travel snack for toddlers. Now we know that gummy bears in a car parked in direct sunlight in the Great Basin Desert will become primary-coloured puddles – and, days later, on a near-freezing night in the mountains of Montana, acquire the sticking power of old gum. Life is a journey of learning, right?
Aside from trash, in addition to the usual boring essentials like glasses and lip balm and coupons, we’ve acquired quite a collection of travelling companions. Not really knowing why I was writing, as writers tend to do, I made a list. Because this is BethBlog, you get to read it ….
– Ryan’s ratty North America atlas, which has accompanied us everywhere (Manitoba’s page is really hurtin’)
– a faded bandana, from the bad old pre-air-conditioning days (some of which were spent in El Paso in August)
– Ryan’s Buddy Holly sunglasses, immortalized in pictures from our honeymoon – he doesn’t wear them anymore, but he can’t seem to part with them
– my four pairs of Dollarama sunglasses, because I am a Beth of extremes and cannot ever have just one of anything
– two perfectly smooth rocks from the Hamilton beach strip
– an empty bubble container from our wedding, with orange and green ribbons still wrapped around it
– a business card and (non-working) pen from Rick’s DJ Service, also from our wedding
– a Jump-All-But-One game from some Cracker Barrel, somewhere
– a (working) pen from some Days Inn, somewhere, and a (non-working) pen from a Super 8 in West Greenwich, RI
– business cards from Sandy’s Deli Diner (Renfrew, ON), Amanda’s Village Motel (Saranac Lake, NY), Budget Lodge (Warren, PA), Econolodge (Drums, PA), Open Gate Motel (Warwick, RI) and Hitch’n Post RV Park (Wray, CO), where we tented with coyotes
– a rock with “Culbertson Museum” scribbled on one side, and “Montana 2007” on the other (If you want to see mannequins in everything from Davy Crockett caps to painted- lady pasties, and stacks of old newspapers and magazines, and an entire barnful of everyone-in-Montana’s-great-grandmother’s-household-appliances, and a jaw-dropping conglomerate of rusted farm machinery, you must visit this place! We’re still glad we did.)
– a “passport” containing stamps from every little town along Nevada’s Highway 50, “the loneliest road in America” (If you want a certificate with your name on it, signed by the governer of Nevada – and, of course, we did – all you have to do is make it through what used to be the Pony Express, getting your passport stamped all the way. It is a breathtaking drive, and well worth the creeping fear that you might end up a pile of bones under a pile of sand under a pile of tumbleweeds under a blazing sun, because you havn’t seen a fellow human being in 150 miles.)
The last item I give you, beloved readers, is a list (yeah, I know, me and my lists) I made in 2011, on our way to and from New Mexico, of all the items Bridget claimed to dislike. Background note: Bridget was a notoriously disagreeable – dare I say surly – child for a long time. Here’s what really got her goat back then: apple crepes, apple fritters, some apple juices, avocado, bean dip, bloomin’ onion (an appetizer on the Outback Steakhouse menu), cantaloupe, chocolate chip pancakes, chocolate donuts, cooked oranges, cooked tomatoes, corn tortillas, graham crackers, green chile sauce, guacamole, honeydew, lemon-butter chicken, M’n’M cookies, muffins (yes, all muffins), olives, onions, orange-mango juice, pepperoni, raspberry cakes, roast beef, seasoned fries, smoked turkey. Not sure what she actually ate during those two weeks …. Maybe she was living on found-food from under her booster seat? Or ABC gummy bears? Someday, I will show her this list, and we’ll laugh and laugh …. and then I will tell her what I want for Mother’s Day.
You’re probably thinking that, with all this junk, getting a new car is a great way to purge. Nah. We’re just gonna put it all in our new car, and drive around acquiring more of the same.