Debate Driving Distance

Q&A: Where do you find pleasure? Sitting in the sun with a book by the front door with Sparky because it’s cold in the house and windy outside.


I spent the morning debating when I should get out from under the blanket and which direction I should go on my road trip. I thought about Joshua Tree, where Sparky is not allowed on trails — so no, to a bit of Arizona before Death Valley and returning south on the 15. I could take my time stopping in every town and then deal with LA and wildfire traffic on the way home.

Or I could make a wider loop and see the Grand Canyon. Maybe I’ll just take Sparky to Cowles Mountain today. I talk to Caleb and then think about going through Tucson to Albuquerque, only 900 miles away, about a day’s drive, or a few days before going through Flagstaff and finding a way home. Then he looks into Mobile, Alabama but it’s too late for that option because of my non-refundable plane ticket.

The Mazda 3 needs an oil change and the Tribute needs a terminal on the battery replaced. I was able to cut the wires but am struggling to strip them. Maybe when Ryan gets home except that Caleb calls Josh, a coworker no longer on the travel team, that can come by this afternoon with the family when his wife gets off work.

I silently agreed though I wondered if I’d be home. I’m not likely to be packed and ready but what about my hike or going paddle boarding if I have to fix one car and then wait on the other one. This gives me time to debate the cost of my trip, where I’ll get food along the way, if I’ll sleep in the car or bring the tent, and how cold it will be so I know how many wool items to bring with my flip-flops.

Did I think about these things in my 20s or is this what my dad was warning me about; that as people age they either get smarter or just get stuck in their old way of doing things, which for me was my way or the highway, or me on the highway. I used to care so much about seeing Mom, and then took road trips to see the husband’s family, and love the roller coaster of fun that happens when I’m with Dad and Caroline, but then I started to focus more on enjoying myself and this planet and not limiting my adventure to those “good ol’ days” of Texas or family that are long gone.

Caleb and I have set about making new traditions of traveling mostly and seeing family sometimes or meeting them on the road unless I’m injured they get to see us for a whole week. I was young and invincible once and thought we’d all last forever, but family disappeared and best friends vanish with distance. I will live with myself the longest and am willing to deal with the more thoughtful side of me as long as I don’t think my way out of the adventure my mom so badly craved but always put off for tomorrow.

I’m making progress around the house and need to study for my ACE exam but I don’t want to regret years from now not returning to the Grand Canyon and enjoying the journey for some 150 question test. I should get out for a few days even though there’s plenty of museums, markets, and mountains here to entertain me if I’d make the effort to leave the house more than just to walk Sparky multiple times a day and talk with the people in my neighborhood and avoid the freezing cold grocery store.

I take the Mazda 3 to Econo Lube N’ Tune. I know I’ve brought the Tribute here at least twice and though Kevin is nice enough when checking me in, David has really made the difference today. He asked what type of oil I wanted and I replied, “that’s a good question.” He said synthetic something 20 is what the manufacturer recommends and I remember seeing that under the hood when I checked the oil – just for color as there’s not a level marker. David brought the cap over to show me 0W-20, for next time.

I’m sitting here writing this and David comes back to ask about tire rotation, which the car says is needed in 200 miles, and whether I want to replace the engine air and cabin air filter since it’s my car, but they are dirty and done on an as-needed basis. I call Caleb to confirm and to find the location of the wheel lock that’s in the trunk and under the boxes of jump ropes and keychains from American Heart Association. David was kind to help me move them.

I go back to the customer lounge to read about brands and how they drive consumers or tell Caleb about the random guy that just drove up while David comes in to show me the new bright clean filters and give me an update on the progress of the car. The random guy is at the desk telling the owner about “this other company that fudged something up in my car. Do you think you can fix it for free? No. I’ll just go…” The rest was unintelligible as the guy turned to leave.

I want to put David in my pocket and keep his knowledge and kindness close while I’m on the road alone, though I suppose my super smart husband is only a phone call away, so I should let David share his skills with all the lucky customers. With the car done and a completed Yelp review, I’m free to sit in the sun by the front door on a pillow with Sparky in his bed with his turtle while I read and wait for Josh to show up. As soon as he’s done I take an hour nap on the couch.

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