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The Road to Arkansas and Back – Part 5

I fell asleep sometime after midnight, and the day is a chaotic blur to me. I’ll start with tweets to kind of set the tone. I don’t remember typing the second one, so I guess I have to add “sleep tweeter” to my resume.

“Soon passing Knoxville, going strong. Not sure where we’ll lay our heads but may make it into NC.”
~ Thursday, February 24, 2011 1:18:53 AM

“I’ve been napping. Naughty Bear is wide awake with coffee & corndog in hand. Still in TN. He wants me to go back to sleep. G’night.”
~ Thursday, February 24, 2011 2:47:49 AM

I took over driving around 5 am-ish, feeling very rested. What I Learned: Using the “White Noise” app on my Droid at a high volume with headphones made all the difference on the quality of sleep while passengering. While NB drove, he listened to music and held a lengthy phone conversation with his girlfriend and I didn’t hear a thing. Road noise was also completely blocked out and I was tremendously rested after only a few hours of quality sleep. When I took over, NB used my trick and also slept very deeply for several hours. I’m so glad I saw the icon as I was flipping through for “DoubleTwist” to start playing music. I’m going to use it for plane trips, train rides and any other time I need to sleep in less-than quiet locations.

I’m thrilled that I was driving at sunrise, because the mountain views were stunning. I was completely invigorated and inspired by the glory before me and even stupidly snapped some photos while I was driving. They are crappy, poorly focused and poorly aimed since I was more worried about steering than photo composition, but I just wanted to capture the beauty in any way I could.

Naughty Bear was awake for a few moments when I stopped at a scenic overlook near Staunton, Virginia that I was familiar with. I was shocked that he remembered our only other stop there together, which was about twelve years ago. I felt compelled to stop and take in the view. With the mountains in the distance and mists in the valley it was inexplicably beautiful. I took a few snapshots with my camera phone, once again forgetting to get my fancy camera out of the car. My heart was pounding and I had that connection to the bigger world that I so craved the night before. As I stood overlooking the valley, NB stayed in the car, talking to his girlfriend on the phone. I was completely alone for a few serene moments.

Then a car pulled up and three men quickly climbed out. I saw NB tense up through the windshield as his protectiveness of me kicked in. I couldn’t blame him after what he went through in Atlanta a few months ago, but smiled at him to soothe him. These men were dressed and had the swagger of typical street thugs, but I learned on a road trip years before never to judge people by appearances. I smiled at the first guy as he approached me, and he grinned hugely when I said “Good morning” to him. He said something along the lines of, “It’s a blessed morning to be able to see such a beautiful view, don’t you think?” I agreed whole-heartedly, and his friends finally caught up with him as he had literally bolted out of his car to stand at the edge of the overlook and take in the view. We greeted each other and shared our marvel at the hugeness and beauty of the valley and mountains, then stood in quiet awe of the view. Getting cold, we shared cheery farewells and blessings as I got back in the car to head the rest of the way home.

As I started the car, I felt utterly in awe and invigorated after what my mind and spirit absorbed from the ten minute stop. Beauty in nature and humanity, all at once. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

Naughty Bear and I started the trip with a general goal of making it to Knoxville, Tennessee but also agreed to stop whenever either of us felt the need to. Since I was so well rested, I drove until we were about two hours from home. We then realized that the GPS route had us passing within a half-hour of where he lives with his grandparents, so we detoured there and unloaded. Our original on-the-fly plan had been to go to my place first and grab some sleep and then he’d drive down and unload alone. This seemed smarter.

We called his grandparent’s and let them know we were an hour away, got there and the two of us unloaded the car quickly. The mild headache I’d been fighting since the night before turned into a migraine for obvious reasons, and by the time we left the house I was dizzy, trembly, nauseous and very weak. I was very thrilled, however, to see the dog that used to be a part of my old family. A basset hound/beagle mix that we got about 3 months before my first marriage ended. She’s pretty old now, and from the way she greeted me, I like to think she remembered that me since we were inseparable for those three months.

Naughty Bear drove the hour or so home, and I have to admit that we were finally feeling ragged. The unload was exhausting and we were a bit cranky with each other. Not excessively so, and we kept apologizing when one of us snapped fully well aware of why it was.

Naughty Bear immediately went up to nap for a few hours before heading out to see his girlfriend, and I hopped in my bed as well. Chooch snuggled up with me, and as usual I had trouble changing gears. I’ve never been able to just stop and go to sleep, I need transition time. So I worked on another blog post before I could forget anything. I finally slept, but I’m not sure for how long. I woke a few times from weird dreams, and tweeted this:

“Confused. Dozing off and on, not sure what’s real except that I’m starved. Granola bar at 5 am isn’t holding me. Did I get a polar bear cub?”
~Thursday, February 24, 2011, 5:54 pm

After my nap, I grabbed a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal, something I missed on the trip as it is a comforting daily ritual for this former carb-shunner. It ended up being dinner. We caught up on favorite TV shows that the DVR recorded while I was gone, snuggled up on the couch.

Two Minute Media Review: Big Bang Theory and Modern Family had me in stitches, as always. Castle was utterly compelling with the cliff-hangering storyline, but the repeated near-misses of Rick and Kate confessing their feelings for each other is getting old. It’s starting to resemble the overused “Ross and Rachel” plot device from “Friends” and I hope they address it quickly.

Snuggle time with Kaylee was supreme. She clearly smelled the three other dogs on me: Not My, the ex’s old and affectionate dog, and the dog that was formerly mine. Kaylee is such a loving and snuggly pup, between her periods of shadow staring and tail chasing. And I’m so grateful to have such an affection sponge with no kids living with us.

After climbing into our super awesomely comfortable bed, we talked for a long time. I didn’t have much time to call and chat while I was gone, so we had a lot to share. I knew how much I missed my man while I was gone, but as we lay there in the dark, sharing, snuggling and laughing in the dark, I began to reflect on just how much I need him. The simple touch of his hand around mine filled me with such peace, and my heart containers were once again filled. Miraculous.

Food and exercise for the day: I had a granola bar and a small bag of Smart Food white cheddar popcorn and a diet coke when I took over driving. I forgot about eating until after my long nap in bed, and then hadoatmeal and some tortilla chips. I was too tired for anything else, period.