Oh you. Look at you. You look different. Did you do something with your hair? Is that a new mask? I’ve missed you. I’ve spent the past few weeks gathering blog-worthy content as I trekked cross-country once again. This time, I drove from Oregon to New Jersey to try to convince my parents that homeownership is all a massive ploy to turn carefree joy into anus-puckering fear.
Driving 2,798 (x 2) miles -not counting the extra seven miles inevitably driven trying to find the DAMN entrance to the DAMN truck stop like seriously you put it THERE?- always comes with certain, ah, learning opportunities, and this particular trip was no exception.
Lesson #1 – You Can’t Build Dreams on a House of
On the return trip to Oregon, I planned to stop in Iowa to
drink beer table a vegan market with my Business Partner Extraordinaire, Robin.
“I think I’m going to buy a canopy,” Robin texted while I was still in New Jersey. “It looks like it’s going to be hot.” Babs caught wind of this text and said,
“I think we have one. We tried to gather all of the pieces after the flood and put them here.” She guided me towards a large Tupperware bin now nestled in my parents’ shed.
I spread out all of the parts on their lawn, hoping nothing was missing. If I can make this work, it’ll save us a ton of money. I was in charge of our business budget and I took my role very seriously.
I soon discovered that a critical corner piece was missing, but, no matter, that’s what duct tape was for. Babs and I spent a solid half hour wrestling the world’s cheapest canopy together, and, once it was precariously perched in all of its DIY glory, I triumphantly snapped a photo for Robin.
“The only issue,” I wrote. “Is that we’re going to be on concrete, so we can’t stake it into the ground.” No way was I buying bags of sand or kitty litter that would cost more than the tent itself. I took the canopy apart and organized all of the pieces, loading them into my trunk for the long haul from New Jersey to Iowa a few days later.
When event time rolled around, it was nearly 90 degrees and sunny. “Thank god we have this tent!” we declared. And then, as though on cue, a huge gust of wind rattled through Des Moines. We sprawled our arms out, octopus-style, grabbing hold of tent corners and merchandise.
“Well,” I said. “I guess we’ll both just have to stay here at all times to make sure it doesn’t blow away!”
Ninety minutes later, I let my guard down for seven seconds to guzzle a gallon of much-needed water. Mother Nature -that fickle mistress- seized the opportunity and let loose her most massive fart yet.
We got lucky. And by that I mean our NJ sourced flying projectile didn’t impale any passersby.
Lesson #2 – When You Assume, You Make an “Ass” out of “U” and “Me” Latte
While in Iowa, I stayed in a tiny
one zero-light town. I was surprised to find a modern coffee shop right around the corner called The Daily Grind. Better still, I could order my beloved oat milk latte online! Score!
I begrudgingly paid the extra service fee for the privilege of pulling up to the coffee shop and skipping the line. I forgot where I was, and that there wouldn’t actually be a line. In fact, there was only one other car in the lot when I arrived. I parked next to my fellow java drinker, and as I got out of my car, a woman came out of the coffee shop holding her cup, hopping into the driver’s seat of the neighboring car.
A moment later, a second woman came out of the shop. She was wearing a black hoodie and also holding a large cup. She smiled directly at me as she approached.
“Oh, wow, you bring it out, too!” I exclaimed, beaming at the woman. “That is so awesome!”
She tilted her head and pointed to the other car.
“Um. No. This is me,” she said as she opened the passenger door and climbed in to join her friend.
Lesson #3 – Never Make Eye Contact
As you’ve probably gathered from Lessons 1-2, I only enjoy spending money on things with calories, which means when it comes to booking roadside lodging, I’m often wrestling between, “Do I spend an extra $50 to reduce the likelihood of finding pubic hair on the plastic cups in the bathroom?” and “Can’t I tolerate anything for just one night?”
Unfortunately, there’s a pocket of hell just east of Chicago -at least for single female travelers with a spoiled, senior Labradoodle- which always has me choosing the same Motel 6 with a sticker price so questionable it’s a wonder I’m still alive.
On my return trip to Oregon, I pulled up to my (un)trusty Motel 6, wondering if it could possibly be any worse than the last time I’d laid my weary eyes upon it. Stepping out of my dusty Subaru, in two day old clothes, sporting unwashed hair and a formidable scowl beneath my wrinkled mask, I tried not to step too close to the patch of grass littered with cans, broken bottles, and cigarette butts. An overweight, middle-aged gentleman in a stained gray t-shirt caught my eye.
He was chain-smoking near the front door and grinned.
“Not much to do in this town is there?”
“Yeah, guess not,” I muttered, charging towards the entrance.
Later, as I filled my ice bucket -utterly shocked it wasn’t bearing a tattered “OUT OF ORDER” sign- I heard the same voice from behind. Stale cigarette stench hit my nostrils as he drawled,
“If you’re bored later, I’m down the hall.”
I darted back into my room without acknowledging him, wondering if it was smart to let him see which room I went into.
“Pretty sure I just got propositioned by a man who definitely goes by Bubba,” I texted to my girlfriends, detailing his advances. “Are these still the sweet nothings a lady of the night can expect?”
Any lessons from the road you care to share?
12 thoughts on “How to Get Propositioned & Other Lessons from the Road”
You were a genius to figure out that canopy. Reminds me of the LAST time I ever went camping and your father forgot the tent poles. We tried to McGyver the hell out of that tent with rope and tree branches. You guys slept (?) in that droopy tent while I stayed in the car and waited for daybreak. I think we both put our tents to rest permanently!
This is what I try to tell my Bend comrades whenever they say, “Wait. You don’t camp?” Clearly our family + tents = unmitigated failure.
Thanks for the giggle and the lessons. Looks like a fitting end for the canopy. A last hurrah! And sorry to hear about the flood. Ugh!! Growing up back east we never got more than maybe 6″ of water in our basement, thank goodness. Glad you made it all the way across and back without further noteworthy incident. I think you handled Bubba brilliantly – less is more in that situation. And I’m glad you had your pup with you.
A few years ago, a friend of my husband’s traveled to our area from Alaska to pick up a camper for his pickup that was being made about 4 or 5 hours south of us. After spending a few days with us, he and his family needed a place for the night near the pickup place and he always opts for the absolute least expensive option (even though he has plenty of money). The next morning, some fancy light bars he had on his truck had magically disappeared in the night. The moral of that story is, if you have money and trick out your pickup, don’t spend the night at a cheap motel with crappy lighting in the parking lot. Especially with your wife and young child.
I’m grateful for Uncle Jesse’s deep, misleading bark on a regular basis! And that is a true golden lesson, LOL I was hoping the unwashed state of my car and the fact that the trunk was filled with cheap canopy pieces would discourage any thievery.
I think years 2020 and 2021 created an new way out of unwanted propositions – a fake coughing fit can scare people off.
It also gave woman the opportunity to let their chin hairs grow free and wild with no one the wiser, and for that, I will always be grateful.
They should make a horror movie titled “Motel 6”. I have tons of road trip stories where I encountered shady characters. I look back and I am truly shocked I survived!
I’ll have to text you with my other name for Motel 6, LOL Whenever I look back at any pictures from any Motel 6’s (except the one in Kearney, Nebraska. That one is strangely wonderful), they scream: “Do NOT open that door. Do NOT pick up that phone. RUN!”
You are a brave and intrepid traveler indeed! We drove across country to Arizona in February with our dog Sally, a nine-year-old Lab who is not a fan of car rides or traveling. Staying in the kind of motels that both take dogs and allow you to park right outside the door, because my husband had trouble walking, was a real eye-opener. The maids who cleaned those places must belong to the same Union as your motel 6 cleaner-uppers. At one place the lock on the door was the same little button lock you get on a bathroom door. In a neighborhood straight out of a horror film! Lucky we had Sally with her also deceptively deep bark. I was also comforted by the fact that my husband was packing a Glock. 😁
A button lock?? Noooo, say it ain’t so! There are not enough tables (to push in front of doors) in the world! Thank goodness for the Sallys and Uncle Jesses of the world!
Haha everything about this post made me laugh out loud! From the anus-puckering fear to the penny deposit from Bubba! 🤣
That’s what great (possibly teetering on distaster) trips are good for- blog material! 😊👍🙌
I knew you’d get it! I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t take Bubba up on his offer. You know. For the story. 😉