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A Summer Road Trip
My mother and I took a road trip to Kansas City, Missouri and to Dallas, Texas for a few days in August. The first part of a road trip always goes by the slowest. My mother was driving her army green jeep on this road. There was plenty of traffic because it was a Sunday afternoon in the summer. Many others were likely headed home from their road trips. It was summer but we kept the rooftop secured. It was a long drive we had ahead of us and we did not want our hair to get knotted. We get the auxiliary cord hooked up to my cell phone and I play the music of Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra, whose concert is the reason we embarked on this trip in the first place.
Soon enough, we had blown through the top hits of ELO and have resorted to listening to each song on the most recent album. It’s less exciting because the trip is not as new and we don’t know all of the words to the songs. We have plenty of time to prepare and memorize them, but why should we? Won’t the band play the hits and only the hits?
The interstate paved a rural route through Missouri. The next major city is Columbia, which is about 60 minutes from the entrance ramp of our road and Interstate-70. It’s the only place we seriously consider stopping for a snack or restroom break. This highway is two lanes wide, plenty of loud, and dozens of diesel trucks passing at ten miles over the speed limit.
Eventually, we need a break from driving. Normally we try to power through minor discomfort and leg cramps for the sake of faster travel. This trip is just much longer and we realize that inevitably we will have to stop. So we might as well satisfy our urge to snack and use the restroom sooner than later. We buy 32-ounce fountain sodas, which are a bad idea if you are trying to avoid bathroom breaks on a road trip, we enter Interstate-70 once again.
My mother planned this surprise stop for me to see my home team, the Saint Louis Cardinals, play a rival, the Kansas City Royals, in a new stadium. By this time I am psyching myself up for this event instead of the concert we chose to attend months in advance. I get my white jersey from the backseat of the car and drape it over the red tank top I had already been wearing. We arrive in Kansas City.
As we neared Kauffman Stadium, paid the fee to park, and were directed to a section of the lot that was still almost empty with the exception of some very dedicated tailgaters. We’ve always been the type of people to arrive at events early but are also the type to overestimate how long of a drive some things are. We parked near another Jeep Wrangler, which my mother always notes by cheerfully saying “Jeep parking!” It never fails to make us giggle. We were plenty early for the game and the sun was scorching hot.
Being the as pale and responsible adult that I am, I brought a hat, a short-sleeved jersey to wear over top of my sleeveless shirt, and SPF 110+ sunscreen. My mother has never burnt like I do but I still encourage her to wear a little sunscreen. Sometimes this means “accidentally” hitting her with the overspray from my own. The game lasted for hours, and by the end of it, we were exhausted. I was ready to sleep off the headache that had come from dehydration, heat, or possibly the weird smell coming from right field. It was all worth it in the end because we got to see the Cardinals win.
Back on the Road
Then we embarked on the next long stretch of our road trip. We talked about where we might stop and get some rest before finishing out the rest of the drive the next morning. After all, the concert wasn’t until Monday night at 7 p.m. and it was only mid-afternoon on Sunday. We talked about the Royals game and our favorite moments. We agreed that our favorite moment was when the rookie first-baseman making his MLB debut got his first hit, RBI, and scored his first run. She and I have always loved rooting for the underdog, and what better person to fill that role than someone who had never played at the major league level before?
We chose to stay on interstate highways for the duration of our trip. Sometimes this meant adding an extra half an hour to our drive time but it didn’t matter. We enjoyed spending time together as well as the smoother drives that the well-maintained highways offered. The landscape here was pretty boring, flat, and there were not many attractions to stop or look at. This tired us fairly quickly. Then we made a decision to stay at a Best Western in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I changed the GPS instructions on my cell phone to reflect that and we drove there.
I set the GPS to take us to Dallas once again. Because it was a new day, it meant that we could start our playlist back over. We played the hits from ELO again, then the lesser known songs, having learned some of the words a little better by now. I thanked my mother for taking me to the baseball game yesterday and for driving us to each of these events.
I couldn’t believe it, we were on the last highway before we would be in Dallas! This meant we wouldn’t hear from the GPS for a while and I could charge my phone for once. Navigation used a lot of my battery power on this trip but it was worth it. We soon learned that although we could do without annoying directions, we would now have to deal with annoying and costly, tolls. I offered my small bills and change I made from waitressing to my mother to pay the tolls. She only took it when she ran out of quarters in her own cup holder.
All that was left was to find parking and enter the American Airlines Center. I could see it from the road. We heard the city soundscapes once again. This time they included street vendors selling their cheap, unlicensed t-shirts to concertgoers. Even though we had checked what seemed like a thousand times already, it was a habit to ask each other, “You got the tickets?” We did. At the venue, they scanned our barcodes and we carefully tucked our tickets away in our wallets. We would save them for when we arrived back home to add them to our boxes of ticket stubs. This was yet another habit my mother introduced me to, ticket stubs.
We found our seats and waited for the show to start. When I saw my mother’s face light up when after hearing first notes of one of her favorite artist’s live songs made the trip worth every bit of effort. She never thought she would be able to have that experience. I am so thankful that ticket buying and road tripping were among the things my mother taught me to do.