NC to NC Phase 5 – CO to VA

This was, no offense to anyone from these places and/or my mother who joined me, the least interesting stretch of my journey east. But I knew that going in, so I tried to make the best of it by convincing (it didn’t take much) Mom to join me. I warned her that this would not be a leisurely drive like our California coast trip earlier this month. The goal was the get from Brother’s house in Colorado to her house in Virginia ASAP. With quick overnight stops in Columbia, MO and Charleston, WV. Before I go too much further, let me give you the links for the last four phases of this trip:

1. California Packing

2. California to Utah

3. Utah to Colorado

4. Colorado Thanksgiving

Okay, now that we’re all back on the same page… Mom and I left my Brother’s family first thing Sunday morning. With a slight hiccup to go back and get a phone, we were still out of town by 8am. We had ten driving hours plus whatever stops we needed along the way. Our directions were to take 20 minutes to get to I-70 East and then drive for 787 miles. Our hotel for the night was less than a mile off the interstate. Here we go! Our first stop was just shy of the Kansas border and as we were pulling in, we noticed the dusting of snow on the ground and the chill in the air. Upon doing a quick search in the car, we realized that we’d left our heavy coats in Colorado. Oops! At least we would be in the car most of the time for the next three days.039

Kansas was next and it was a long, flat, brown state. Nothing wrong with that and we enjoyed the hay bales and oil rigs along the way. We also enjoyed the “Jesus, I trust in You” and the anti-abortion billboards that dotted the roadside landscape. It stayed grey and drizzled rain throughout most of the day but wasn’t too bad. Mom and I stayed busy by making lists of things we needed to do once we got home. That night in the hotel room we knocked out her Christmas card and got them ordered, which we were both quite pleased about!

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Monday morning we got up and hit the road by 7am, but unfortunately got stuck in traffic leading into St. Louis. It was the first freeze of the year and there was ice everywhere. Schools were delayed, the interstate was shut down for a short stretch. It was bananas! A guy merged onto the highway next to us, only to swerve and head straight up the roadside hill two seconds later. Scary! After about an hour delay there, we crossed the bridge into… Illinois? It was freezing rain at that point so I was focused on the road, except for the quick shot of the arch below.

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I have to admit that I don’t remember much about Illinois. We drove like… 50 miles through it? Maybe? Then we crossed into Indiana. And drove it in for… more than that? 100 miles? I really have no idea because we had similar scenery and didn’t really stop. We were pushing to get to West Virginia in time for dinner with my uncle Jim, aunt Beth, and cousin Matt. We’d originally said 5:30 or 6:00 but called to push back to 7:00pm after the St. Louis fiasco. Kentucky was surprisingly pleasant, maybe because we switched from freezing rain to “just” rain and the trees got a little bigger as the elevation got a little higher. I know we must’ve stopped at some point for gas or lunch, but again it was just a blur.

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We got to Charleston right at 7pm and were treated to a delicious chicken dinner with family! After a tour of the house and a few hours catching up, everyone turned in for the night fairly early. Tuesday morning we were up and out by 7am again, this time because I wanted to get home fairly early in the afternoon. It was my 30th birthday and I wanted to see friends that night in DC. But we did manage to fit in a quick stop by VMI to check on another uncle, Bill, who is the associate registrar there. It was nice to stand and stretch for a few minutes while we chatted and then we were back in the car and turning north for a change! Oh, at some point past St. Louis we had gotten off I-70 and had been on I-64 until Lexington. Now it was time for I-81 North and the 18-wheelers that come with it!

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We stopped for a quick Chick-fil-a dinner in Harrisonburg before pushing up into northern Virginia and home to Ashburn where my mother now lives. I have rarely felt more grateful to get out of a vehicle in my entire life. I immediately unpacked my car into my mom’s guest room and laid down to figure out plans for the night. It was still raining and was quite cold and my friends are all responsible people with jobs and such. So we canceled the DC plans and switched to our back-up, which was to meet my oldest friend, John, his mother and his sister for dinner. We were born eight days apart and have been friends ever since, so it was wonderful to catch up with their family!

Since Tuesday I have spent a lot of time helping Mom unpack, sorting through my own possessions, and getting my affairs in order for my trip to Argentina this month. I leave tomorrow and cannot wait to update everyone on how it is going! Be sure to keep an eye out for my updates over the next two weeks and happy December 🙂

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