The Day Before The First Day

A bit of background: Jack and Wendy are hosting Oliver and Barbara, dear friends from Scotland. Jack and Barbara are old singing pals, and Oliver is a TV Producer. They’ve always wanted to see some of America’s West, so we are on a road trip until July 25, headed out through Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and possibly a bit of Kansas. We’ve been planning this trip for a year now, starting July 9. Read along from an armchair where the sunburn and skinned knees won’t hurt quite so much as our plucky band of woefully unfit Brits and their bemused, disorganized token American take this road trip.

Spirits are high, and so are temperatures. Our Barbara got off the plane carrying more than her enormous red suitcase; she’d picked up a fellow traveler that stole her voice and brought the hacking, coughing, ear-clogging, cotton-wool head of “that thing going around.”sick-on-vacation-1

We all still love Barbara, but she was better on Friday, and I was down with it. Whatever it is, it strikes fast. As I was stewing in my bed of misery (Okay, upstairs on the chaise lounge in the classic room, covered in foster kittens) OIiver came by and said, “Have you got anything for a sore throat?”

Third victim claimed.

Jack, of course, never gets these things, because he smokes, drinks, and doesn’t eat vegetables. He’s a genetic anomaly, and he is cheerfully watching the rest of us hack up small pieces of lung and down Sudafed, emitting sympathetic noises and downing doctored cokes. Maybe I should drink more whisky.

Still and all, we were so excited to begin this road trip that we piled one recovering, two hacking, and one pickled passenger into the little Nissan van—we gave my parents the Prius in return for the loan of this larger vehicle—and headed off to Frankfort, KY right after Barbara’s last concert Sunday. Old friends Charles and Mary had agreed to bed and breakfast us overnight, being sweet people. I was very much looking forward to catching up with them as well. As storytellers on the early road, Mary and I were used to artists asking for a crash pass.

All this I explained driving up the road. At the end, Oliver commented, “Yes, I’m sure your old friends will be delighted with our in-chorus coughing.” Well, yes. I still wasn’t ready to admit we were sick, despite the fact our voices were so low, we were covering Statler brothers tunes in the car.

C’est la vie, and we did try to avoid touching anything much at Mary’s, and put our laundry in the washer. The most magnificent breakfast was laid out on their glorious screened-in back porch, including “Eggs a la Charles,” a mixture of all that is good in the kitchen world.

Thoughtfully, Charles and Mary had arranged a racoon visitor from their nearby woodland. He’d clearly been out all night partying and was working his way home when he passed by. Jack offered him a whisky.

And so we start out on Day One with spirits high, fevers somewhat abated, and more Sudafed. Hi ho for a life on the open road.

9 thoughts on “The Day Before The First Day

  1. Thanks much for sharing your Road Trip with us! We have just gotten home from our own “road trip” via Amtrak and will take another to the NE States in the fall – that one will be by car, sadly. We LOVE Amtrak – well, we love tripping any way available and affordable, but when we took our first train trip from VA to CA, I said “I don’t ever need to fly again!” But, truthfully, if it’s a trip ANYwhere by ANY means, we’ll take it. Continue to have fun! As to the illnesses – “This, too, shall pass!”

      • It’s a long two-hour drive for us to get Amtrak in Martinsburg, WVA. We did try it from Staunton, VA one trip, but choose to continue using Martinsburg as our departure track.

  2. Oh, I can relate. Both adults in our household came down with this mess on the third day of eight days of hosting three grandchildren from ages 2-14. Ugh! Good luck. At least you’re laughing–and make me laugh, too. We traveled much of that route a couple of years ago and loved it. If you’re driving across SD on I-90, try to stop at the rest area near Chamberlain just before the Missouri River. There’s a Lewis and Clark museum there (it was one of their camping spots) and the most magnificent stainless steel Native American sculpture called Dignity. Well worth a stop.

    Also, the Oregon Trail Ruts near Douglas WY took our collective breath away. Get well wishes coming your way. Enjoy your travels and your visit. Sounds like fun.

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