A few days ago I returned home from my annual trip home to Willits, CA. Well, not so much annual anymore because other than last years trip, I had not been home for 5 years. Last year I renewed the tradition.
On this trip I racked up 2500ish miles, with 1800 of those miles to and from my primary destination. On the way there, I drove straight through for 16 1/2 hours, stopping only to gas up and pee. On the return trip, I did two 9 hour days of driving, with an overnight stop in Buttonwillow, CA. At 6am, Buttonwillow smells like a two taco fart. I drank over 6 liters of Diet Pepsi on the trip there and 7 liters on the way back. Prior to the trip I had not touched caffiene for many months. I also polished off a bag of chips, 2 packages of jerky and a 5 huge chicken tenders.
In the interest of safety and saving money, I utilized two very cool sites for planning my drive.
While the average price along the route was $3.75 to $4.25 a gallon, I averaged about $3.60 by using Fuel My Route and running a few different fill-up scenarios. I then programmed a route into my GPS that visited the best price stations along the way. In addition, I only filled up completely when I was at the cheapest places. When I was at the more expensive places, I only added enough to get me to the next cheap place on the route. The cheapest on the West coast is Loves, Pilot and Flying J.
I also used the Road Trip Weather Planner to get a full weather forecast for the entire route. It was nice to know in advance I would be driving in torrential rain for 5 hours so I could put Rain-X on the windshield first.
Whenever visiting mom, I always sleep in the backyard in a tent (except for the few times I just slept in a sleeping bag on the deck.) This is entirely my choice. This year, however, after 5 nights, I moved into the house because of a particularly nasty raccoon. I've never had problems with them before as they usually just ignore me. This time it didn't go so well. When I turned over in my tent, it began to growl quite viciously and it didn't stop. Since I was inside the tent and couldn't discern it's exact location, I called mom on the cell phone and asked her to come take a look. I was not about to exit the tent without knowing exactly where it was at. When she turned the light on, it fled off into the bushes but kept growling and it went on for an incredibly long time. Real raccoons are not like Disney raccoons. They will stand their ground and are known to kill other animals. Don't poke the raccoons.
I also spent 5 beautiful days at the Trinity Canyon Lodge which is located on the banks of Northern California's magnificent Trinity River. I sat on beach below my cabin and read 5 books in absolute blissful solitude. One of those books was The Libran Exchange by my favorite indie author Thomas C. Stone. Most of what I read now is from indie authors but I find his books and his personal blog to be particularly fascinating. He and Bill Whittle are currently my two favorite sources of knowledge and wisdom.
Two strange/interesting things occurred while reading his book. The exact second I read a line that I recognised from the Robin Williams movie "Good Morning, Vietnam," mom came over to tell me that Robin Williams was just found dead. At another point when the alien characters were described as smelling like hay/grass, the scent of fresh cut grass wafted over me. My brother-in-law had just started mowing the back field behind the main house. Perfect timing on both.
When we returned to Willits, mom showed me her secrets to perfect Perogies and we made a ton of them together. With a block of ice and 6 inches of Styrofoam, they made the two day trip back to Phoenix in perfect condition.
I should also mention that on the way back to Willits, I finally met my 12 year online friend Derek and his wife Vanessa. A few months ago I appointed him as my replacement as administrator for Disabilities-R-Us.
To finish this post off, I would just like to add that my mom is my hero and I love her. At 72 she is more active than I am.