It’s been a few days now since you’ve arrived in Colorado. You’ve partied it up, bonded with your relatives’ dogs, and basically been having a grand old time on vacation. But now, as with all things, it must come to an end. And so begins the final part of your road trip: the journey home.
Once again, you’ll need to get up pretty dang early to beat traffic. So throw yourself out of bed, have some breakfast, freshen up a bit and finish packing. Just like that first day, which will feel like ages ago, at this point. Help pack up the car once again, this time with some extra boxes that your grandmother handed to you guys. Try to remember how the hell you packed your car the first time, and see where you can shove this new cargo in. You might have to get creative at this point.
Once that’s all settled, it’s time for hit the road. Give some final goodbye hugs to your aunt and uncle – and the dogs, don’t forget the dogs – and thank them for letting you stay at their house*. Then park yourself in the backseat wherever there’s room, snuggle under your Ouija Board blanket, and head out towards home.
For the most part, this journey is very similar to going to your destination. Stopping at rest stops, trying to find food, keeping yourself busy in the back seat, so do refer those posts in case you need a quick refresher – only now, the situation is reversed. And destination is now home sweet home.
You’ll be super excited to go home, that’s for sure. You’re fairly certain that you’re allergic to something out in the Midwest at this point, and that wasp sting behind your ear is giving you some trouble. But patience is key here. You’ll have to get through a few more states before you’re back home. Besides, the thought that you have to go back to regular life – work, laundry, trying not to worry about the future – will be rearing its ugly head, and you’d rather not think about it, to be perfectly honest. So just sit back, relax, and and try to finish up that last book as you roll into Kansas.
Surprisingly, Kansas will be a bit more hilly that you’d might expect. Still be prepared for lots of corn and cows, though. This is the Midwest, after all. You will have some weird moments of deja vu driving through – it’s been a long time since you’ve been here, and yet there’ll be that little tickle at the back of your mind, reminding you of how weirdly familiar it all is.
You’ll stop a couple of times – first at Eisenhower’s birth place, then to meet some friends for dinner – before you come to your final stop for the day: Ft. Leavenworth, where you spent 3 years and have most of your earliest memories. This is where the deja vu will really start kicking in hardcore. And you will NOT be ready for it. There’ll be the library where your mother used to work at and you spent a great deal of time yourself. Over there will be where that Chinese restaurant you went to all the time used to be. It’ll be crazy – and will only get crazier as you go on post.
You’ll spend the night at the hotel/lodge dealie on post (please refer to the post on Hotels for further information on how to stay at a hotel properly), ready to take a walk down memory lane tomorrow. You’ll be surprised what you can remember. For example, you’ll remember that Burger King, for some reason – it’s the first place you stopped at when your family first got there way back in the day. You’ll know that where you stayed the night before was where you saw the fireworks just before you left for Germany. Those old red houses are still there, as is your old elementary school and the gazebo where you got your picture taken for the newspaper during Christmas, which was on the front page. Gone, though, are your old quarters, replaced with new, sleek quarters for its residents. This’ll damper your spirits a bit, even as you walk through the old park with the Buffalo Soldier monument, which you can remember clear as day. Plus, that stupid sting will be aching even more. It’s time to head out again.
You’ll go through Missouri, stopping off at the Grant House outside of St. Louis, even catching a glimpse of the Arch. But don’t stay too long. You need to motor to your next stop in Indiana, where there’s a house opened up for you by those very gracious friends mentioned in the Visiting Friends post to stay for the next couple of days. A perfect place to get some more relaxation in, as well as to see your aunt and her family who are in the area**. Again, this trip is all about taking opportunities when they are handed to you, such as being able to visit family because you’ll be there. Don’t miss it. You’ll enjoy walking through IU, where your Aunt and two of your cousins work, as well as attend or had previously attended. Make sure to stop off and see the Art gallery that they have on campus, while trying to shake off that feeling of “Oh God, I’m on a college campus WHY IS THIS WEIRD.” Relax. It’s just a school. Enjoy yourself.
You’ll have a lovely dinner that night, chatting and reminiscing. It’ll be a great time. But alas, as before, it’ll have to come to a end, as you find yourself in that same pattern of having to wake up early to pack the car once more. You won’t miss this. Trust me. You’ll be stoked when you’ll be able to unpack the car and leave it unpacked. Anyways, say some more goodbyes and go forth into the Indiana wilderness.
As the day goes on, things will start become familiar. You’ve driven here before, haven’t you? Why, yes you have. West Virginia. Pennsylvania. Maryland. All of this means that you are on your way home. Try to contain your excitement. You’re almost there.
Cross over the Potomac and – ta-dah! – you’re in Virginia. Make sure you don’t push the driver to go too fast, but, I mean, home is around the corner. Just keep going, keep going, a little further now…
Boom. You’re back in the neighborhood. You’re turning down your street. And there it is. Still standing***.
Your road trip is over.
Time to unpack the car, turn on the air conditioning because the house feels like a bazillion degrees, and be thrilled that you had such a wonderful vacation.
*Seriously, thank you guys so much. I know I’ve already said that, but it needs to be said again. It was lovely.
**Great seeing you guys!
***Come on, you know you’ll have thoughts that something terrible happened to the house while you’re gone. A tree branch falling or a burglary occuring. But it’ll be fine.