Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Incredible Journey (Part 4)

Leaving West Virginia was exciting because our next stop was Ohio. And we had big plans in Ohio.

However, getting there wasn't that simple. You see, West Virginia has this little thing called a panhandle. And once you think you are out of West Virginia, you are suddenly back in it. And then you start to wonder what happened. And then you start to worry. Am I going the wrong way? Am I lost?

And then you realize that West Virginia is some sort of alternate universe where you can never escape.
I kid you not, our drive that day went exactly like this: West Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio.
It is way less exciting to tell the kids we just crossed into West Virginia when you just told them we left there 20 minutes ago. Damn that panhandle!I guess we're just lucky. We had the extreme pleasure of passing through West Virginia three times in one morning. And I assure you, I was not lost.
(Got the GPS, never need a map again!)
Finally, finally, after a long day on the road, we arrived in Ohio. Finally.
We stayed at a military base that night and I felt so much safer there. In fact, we were greeted upon arrival by a sweet couple who were camping near us.
I guess that I'm a pretty pitiful sight as I set up camp with my splinted finger and six unruly children. As I hooked up the poop chute, a retired gentleman approached me and asked if I needed help. Of course I said "no" because that is my M.O. Heather always refuses help. Can you say character flaw? Anyway.
The man's wife eventually came over and he helped me unhook my camper and we chatted. They were amazed that I was traveling alone with my children and were surprised to hear that my husband was in Iraq and I was all by myself. Being retired military himself, our new friend was touched. He told me that I was an example for military wives everywhere. I shook my head and told him I'm just doing what I have to do.

The kids and I left to take care of our big plans (more on that later!) and came back late that night to crawl into bed.
When we woke up the next morning, our new friends came over and helped me break camp. They told me that they had told their friends about our family and that they were all wishing us a safe trip. The sweet couple even gave me a copy of the military campground book so that I could scout out bases to camp at along our way. The gentleman warned me that I needed new tires and told me that I wouldn't make it to Washington without getting new tires. I inflated my tires and headed on my way, planning to buy new ones in Colorado.

We left Ohio feeling blessed by friendship in unexpected places. Sometimes my courage is boosted just by a simple conversation with a stranger. Sometimes dinner with a "new" friend can feel just like dinner with a friend I've known for years.
Ohio goes down with a smiley face next to it in my book.
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