Mar 16, 2012

Wrong turn at Albuquerque

Finally hitting the road, we decided to make a drastic detour.  Due to the unexpected arrival of Brenton's sister back to the US and the fact that his best friend, Jordan, was getting married in one week, we decided to drive 2,000 miles north to the beautiful state of Washington.  

We were a little worried about Shady would she handle life on the road?  This would be our test run before the big trip, with a deadline to make the wedding on time.  Only Brenton's brother and Jordan's soon-to-be wife knew about our plans...  
The next four days were an insane marathon race with very long days of driving, sometimes twelve to fourteen hours until we'd pull over exhausted.  We hardly even took any photos because our view was 90% looking out over the dashboard.  

Valentine's day was spent mostly behind the wheel.  Shannon remembered and had a card ready for Brenton.  Meanwhile, Brenton had no idea it was Valentine's Day and made it a point to buy her an Adele CD during a pit stop.  Crisis Averted?  Probably not, since that night was spent sleeping in a New Mexico truck stop.  We were surprised the next morning to hear a blizzard had rolled through and we were lucky we got off the highway when we did.  We had no idea since we were toasty in our 4Runner. 

We had made this drive from Texas to Washington before, almost the exact same route, but this was our first time driving it during the winter and it was spectacular scenery.  With snow on the ground, even the plains of Northwest Texas were attractive.  It was painful to pass through some of our favorite parts of this country, such as the Four Corners area and not be able to sightsee or play in nature's splendor.  

Moab and surrounding scenery

We were so excited to finally hit the road that we decided that it would be fun to share the moment with others.  For the entire drive North, we had decorated our windows with celebratory messages.  This was the beginning of our grand experiment: What does the typical American citizen feel about the path that we've chosen?  WIll they share our excitement and wonder about the destinations ahead?  Or will they ask, "Where the hell is Argentina?".  The following two thousand miles were filled with many confused looks, which we dubbed: "the confused gringo look".  Then we were greeted by friendly honks, double thumbs-up, and bewildered waves...which confirmed everything.  It was just as we had suspected...

A nation's people divided.  Some folks think we're crazy, some want to follow us in tow, and others need to study some geography.  

The long days of driving were really wearing us down, but even more so for Shady.  Her mucous membranes went into overdrive and eyes began to secrete eye boogers in copious amounts.  She hardly ate two meals over the course of four days and she was beginning to act strange.  When we stayed with Shannon's sister in Houston, she began to dig her way home out of anxiety.  She hardly drank her water and we could tell she was not enjoying herself.  The only time that she seemed normal was when the tennis ball and "chuck-it" came out at rest stops.  This was when we really started to second guess her seat on the Pan-American Express.  

We finally arrived at Brenton's brother's house in Eastern Washington and walked into his sister's bedroom to surprise her.  She must have figured something was up because there would be no other reason an eight month pregnant woman would be so dressed up and with makeup on.  Well, at least she acted surprised.  It was great to see her at this term in her pregnancy, you could hardly tell she was expecting until you'd look at the massive bump in her belly.  Brenton was constantly reminding her of her new waist size and how much food she was consuming…it was all in good fun.  Our arrival was also a big surprise for Brenton's mom and dad. 

Just when we were really starting to worry about Shady, she had completely relaxed.  She went back to a normal eating routine.  She was very playful with our niece, Peyton and you could tell that she was happier in this stable environment.  I guess it was time to make a decision…should we cut to the chase and make Shady tacos?  Should we bring a bigger shovel to clean Shady's eye boogers?  Or should we just string a ball behind the 4Runner and go?  Obviously we had some soul-searching to do.  

Shady in hog-heaven

The next day we drove westward to the Cascade Mountains, just in time for Jordan's wedding.  We snuck into the pre-ceremony cocktail party and surprised our friend's Kyle and Ashlee first.  Their backs were to us as they were holding our seating namecards, debating whether we were supposed to show or not.  Our friends Matt and Julie saw us, then the six of us laughed and celebrated the surprise reunion (we had already said at least three goodbye to Matt and Julie back in Texas). 

Eventually we made our way across the room and Brenton finally greeted the groom, who was honestly a little upset to see him.  I guess not everyone takes surprises the same way.  Eventually Jordan got over the fact that Brenton said we would not be there and gave him a big hug.  It was an amazing evening and it was great to see ALMOST all of our friend's together at this beautiful occasion, especially before heading south.  

A friend who had a little too much wine at the reception ;)