Due to popular demand, I am telling you all about my solo road trip halfway across the country and back. This is the third part, starting at mile 1,681.5 because yes, I kept track of all my major stops. If you want to catch up on the miles before now, here’s your chance: Miles 1 through 465.9 and Miles 466 through 1,440.4. Otherwise, let’s get back on the road!
1,681.5 miles Des Moines, IA: I arrived to the place I called home for several years and the clock started ticking. We’ve taken a few trips back in the past, and it always feels like a race to see all the people we love in the amount of time we have (oh yeah, and I kept working during the day on this trip). So, I saw a LOT of people and was so glad to do so.
Mason City, IA: I arrived in the area and then promptly headed a few hours north. I don’t have the miles because this time I got to ride instead of drive to my next stop. A few friends were headed to Minneapolis, MN and I caught a ride to Mason City, IA, which was on the way there. This is where the real surprise was planned.
There’s a reason I didn’t post much about this trip until after it happened. My mom has NO idea I was coming. I thought maybe this trip would line up with Mother’s Day, but when it didn’t I decided not to tell her anyway. There was a part of me that wanted to record the moment, but then I decided to experience it instead. Her jaw dropped as soon as she saw me and this is her trying
and failing to reenact the expression. Just know that it was worth it. After the surprise had subsided, she showed me all around her new town as I had never been there before.
Ames, IA: On the way back to Des Moines, my mom and I swung through Ames to visit my alma mater. It’s funny, when I was in high school, I refused to even visit a college in Iowa because I was so bent on moving, which is why my first year was spent at Missouri State before I transferred to Iowa State. Now I am so grateful for my experiences at Iowa State and proud to be a Cylcone, even from afar.
Des Moines, IA: Are you ready for a whole bunch of pictures of people I love and far less description of how my week went? Good, because that’s about to happen. In summary, I spent the week working during the day like a normal person and then using the rest of the time to catch up with great friends over lunch, coffee, dinner and dessert. I stayed with friends who are new homeowners, held tiny babies, checked out the new building of my old workplace and celebrated the next season in life my friends are entering in to. Des Moines was beautiful all week and I kept feeling like a tourist who wanted to capture all that is great about that place. Somehow, there are several more people I got to see and spend time with but didn’t get a photo with this time.
1,817.1 – 2,467.4 miles Clarksville, TN: In one day, I traveled 650 miles by car as I went from Des Moines to Tennessee. While originally planned as a two-day trek, this is another one of those plans that just changed and probably for the best. Luckily for me, it went incredibly quick as I had a co-pilot to keep me company all day. When Nancy and I realized we were thinking of going back to Iowa around the same time, we coordinated our trips so that we could do part of the journey together. She is another friend about to enter into a new stage of life as she was 30 weeks pregnant at the time, and I am so excited for her and her husband to be parents.
2,516.3 miles Nashville, TN: I got on the road thinking I might simply wave hello to Nashville and be on my merry way. Originally, this was to be a stop-and-stay-with-a-friend location, but when you’re on a road trip you’ve got to be flexible and ready to shift plans around. Once I arrived, I realized how much I still wanted a chance to stay for awhile. So, I did. One might think it was for reflection on this trip before returning home and in a way it was, but the reality was that I finally finished journaling about our trip to Argentina earlier this year. It gave me the chance though to let some of my thoughts flow from pen to paper and was just the rest I needed before driving the remaining 450 miles back home. I’d just spent time with a lot of people, heard a lot of truths and challenges and traveled almost nonstop for a few weeks and had a lot to process, so I was grateful for those last few hours driving through the mountains alone on my final stretch of the journey.
3,066.3 miles Raleigh, NC: Home at last.