California to North Carolina-2800 miles (cont)
Barstow, CA to Williams, AZ
I wake in Barstow, California. Most of our family has spent the night in a pet friendly motel room. The boys who are 14 and 15 years of age are sleeping on the fold out sofa, one eleven year old daughter is sleeping alone in the queen size bed, her eight year old sister is sound asleep, curled up on the floor. I make myself a cup of coffee, climb back into bed and reflect on our transition which is that we are between homes. The house we left 24 hrs ago is no longer our home and we have never been to the house we are going to because I purchased our new home online. The destination today is Williams, Arizona and it is only three hundred eighteen milesof driving. I am not driving too much each day because I am the only driver, and the only parent. I don't want to push myself too hard. I want this adventure to be one of our best memories.
Today, we will drive through more desert to Williams, Arizona; the gateway to the Grand Canyon. The van is tidied up and being prepared for the road again, thanks to my "nester", the eleven year old girl. We eat our morning meal out of our "breakfast box", a box of cereal, fruit, disposable spoons, and bowls. My older daughter is with her friends in another room. I let them know that the van is leaving soon with the breakfast box. Within thirty minutes, we are on interstate 40 going east. The drive begins quietly, partly due to sleepiness, and partly due to the continuing exposure to new views. Soon, we approach the California-Arizona border. It is a profound moment for all of us; we are not on an excursion, we are going to our new home. Every landmark and town will be unfamiliar from now until we make our new town into our new home and it becomes familiar. A semi-truck whistles by us at over eighty miles per hour. We are shocked, it takes us another half an hour or so before we realize there is no speed limit in this part of Arizona. The desert is beautiful, there is no traffic, and the rest of the drive to Williams, Arizona is uneventful.
As we approach Williams, Arizona, the landscape changes, the cacti and orange and rust colored surroundings become mountains and evergreen trees. I want to find our motel and locate a restaurant that serves meals with all food groups. We find a small Italian restaurant and we sit at two boothes opposite one another; our group totals nine people. Dinner out in a sit-down restaurant is a rare and special event for my family. We keep our server very busy. Each person has a menu to read so there is much discussion, reading and decision making. Two of my children read that chocolate milk is on the menu and order chocolate milk. White milk is brought to the table to shocked and disappointed diners. The server returns with a large squirt bottle of chocolate syrup and quickly solves the problem. We had a very good time. We finish our dinner, leave the restaurant, walk around town and return to our motel.
I want to change the sleeping arrangements so my youngest daughter does not get pushed out of bed. I will sleep in the queen size bed with my eleven year old and my eight year old will sleep in the rollaway. I retreat to a bath and a glass of red wine; all others enjoy their game boys or Television. The extraordinary pleasure of the motel room contributes to everyone's happiness and good humor. I remember I need to check on my "Shadow" the cat and I leave our room to go to her. The script is the same as the last night, in Barstow; I call to her, she mews and I see her ears pop up from behind a seat. I hold her tight to my chest, put my lips to her head and she comforts me. I leave food, water, and litter box and return to our room.