The drive was rough. To make it in five days, we would be doing ten to twelve hour days. Our journey would have been a little bit shorter if we hadn’t gone down through Texas, but the girls wanted to see their cousins, and we had a few things stored up in my dad’s attic that I wanted to get. Our first day was spent crossing California, with stops in Redding and Sacramento for food or just a stretch of the legs. We made it through LA traffic without hitting any traffic at all really, which was a first for me. We timed it so that it was ten o’clock at night, which helped, but even in the nighttime I’ve been slowed up by LA’s notorious gridlock.
The next morning, I had a crazy streak of bad luck. The goal was to get to Las Cruces New Mexico that evening, where our friends David and Heather live. They have small kids though, and they go to bed early, so that meant we had to wake up super early to make it there by early evening. Our bad luck began when my alarm failed to go off (somehow it had been flipped to PM, though I remember setting it to AM) and I woke up almost an hour after I had wanted to leave. In a hurry to get us out of the room, I accidentally left my computer charger, which I didn’t realize until we were at the truck. I had also left the room keys in the room, but I figured the front desk would issue me another one.
Bad stroke of luck number three: nobody was at the front desk. They actually closed the front desk until nine AM! Unheard of. I called the number listed for if there was a problem, and I got no answer. Our room was on the second floor, but it had a balcony, and I wasn’t sure I had locked it. Desperate to get my charger and get on the road, I scrambled up there and tried the door, but it was locked. Eventually, after Gaia knocked at the employee’s only door for a long time, a lady came out and issued me another key. We were finally getting on the road, only I couldn’t find the highway. I was using the phone to navigate, but bad luck number four, I kept getting turned around. I’m not quite sure how it was happening, but I would be following a street to a cross street which I knew would take me to the highway, and when I made the turn, the whole screen would flip around and suddenly I’d be going away from the highway. This happened twice. I was getting really mad, feeling like my chance to spend time with David and Heather was slipping away.
Eventually we got on the highway, and it was still light when we pulled into Las Cruces. David and Heather have a really nice place, with nothing but wilderness behind their backyard. They also have a massive, observatory scale telescope in their front yard. David told me that the previous owner had been into astronomy, and that and one other nice telescope came with the house.
The kids played in the backyard for a while, and we ordered pizza and made a salad. It was great catching up with David and Heather, and David and I stayed up pretty late talking. He had to work the next day, and we had another long day of driving to make it to New Braunfels, but it was worth it for a longer visit. I scheduled two nights in New Braunfels so we could take a day off from driving, giving the girls a full day to spend time with Callie and Scarlet.
On our way through West Texas we stopped in Fort Stockton and Kerrville, and we got to my dad’s house at about ten o’clock that night. It was good to see him, as we had missed him the last time we were in Texas, even though we stayed for almost a month. My dad works in the travel business, and he travels far more than I do. Might give you some idea as to where I get it.
Laurie brought Callie and Scarlet over the next morning, and the kids had a blast playing around the house and yard. The girls all missed Lila though, saying it just didn’t feel complete without her little voice following everyone around.
Later that day we went to Laurie and Phillip’s house, where we met my mom and Dave, who took us all out to dinner and then came with us to a gig Phillip and Laurie were doing out at Son’s Island in Seguin. Son’s Island is in fact an island, on Lake Placid. It's a great spot, decked out with cabinas, camping spots, volleyball, kayaks, and a water slide. My friend Byron, for whom I used to work, built the place. He took me out there right after he bought it, before he had developed it, and while I certainly saw great potential, I never would have imagined how awesome of a place it would become.
We took the girls there for a gig earlier in the summer and they had a great time, so they were excited to go back. It was a much smaller crowd than our first visit in June, which made it much more chill. Laurie and Phillip have a great selection of songs that they can do, spanning several genres and decades.
It was far too short a time to spend with my family, but we had to be getting on the road. Aside from missing Laura and Lila, we had to get back in time for the solar eclipse, which was on August 21st, only three days after we’d be leaving Texas.
The last two days of driving were a little bit easier, with something other than desert going by out the windows. We stopped in Rockville, just east of Dallas, where my good friend Dana lives. I had not seen her in many years, and her kids had gotten so much older! We had lunch at their house and then took a short walk down to a park nearby. Dana lives in a very nice neighborhood, and the park was also nice. It was also completely empty, so the kids had the whole place to themselves. We didn't stay really long, and by the time we walked back, everybody was really hot. Dana served us some ice cream, and I managed to wrangle all six kids together and get them to hold still long enough for a group photo. It was great seeing Dana again.
We stayed the night in Little Rock and made the final push home on the 20th, getting in at almost ten o’clock at night. Fortunately, we still had the truck for several more days, so I wasn’t in too huge of a rush to unload it. We wouldn’t start right away, with the eclipse occupying the next day. We could be inside of the totality by driving about thirty miles, so that was our plan. It was great to see Laura and Lila again, and the girls were very excited to be getting all their toys back, after almost nine months living out of a suitcase.
“This is it,” I told Laura. “We’re committed to being here now. I’m not moving all this stuff across the country again.” (Although I’ve probably said that before.)
“I know,” she said. “We’re home!”