We stopped for breakfast at an IHOP in New Jersey around 8 a.m. We've made other mistakes. We noticed a funny smell and ignored it. An hour later, miles down the road, we pulled off quickly, desperately seeking a public restroom. It was a quick but reckless choice of off-ramps, as we wound up on a four mile one way road through the woods, controlled by a light that let you know if anyone was coming the other way. (If anyone was, you waited for them to pass, then the light would change.) There was no where to turn around. The speed limit was 15. John was doing 35. You have to understand. John NEVER speeds. 35 was not safe on that road. It was a desperate situation. After four miles, we found a state campground with a nice ranger who allowed us free use of their non-flushing facilities. We made it — just barely in time, too. Next time a place smells funny, we're out of there.
Fortunately, we felt better afterwards, and a few hours later enjoyed a truly wonderful lunch. Ruth had packed us chicken salad sandwiches. I tried to convince her to come up with a better name for them, but she said it wasn't her recipe, so she couldn't. Well, I can (and will) when I start making them at home. Maybe Heavenly Chicken Salad? She puts in grapes, apples, almonds and celery. Try it; you'll love it!
It was a great day to be heading West. We made great time, with minimal traffic, while passing several areas where the opposing traffic, heading East, was at a dead stop because of horrific crashes. Patrol cars, fire and ambulance vehicles crowded around, while the lines of cars often stretched for miles at a complete stop. People often laugh at John for driving the speed limit and being overly defensive. Okay, maybe he overdoes it in some ways, but his one and only accident was at the tender age of 18, and he's never had a traffic ticket. So I'm not laughing.
Nearing Akron, our ending point tonight, we passed Kent State, which brought back some pretty grim memories, and then almost immediately passed the Goodyear World Headquarters, and saw a huge blimp in the air. That really looked nice. It was a much better memory to take from Ohio. It was also in Ohio that we found the best price on gasoline so far this trip. It was at a Flying J in Hubbard, at $2.559 per gallon. (I remember gas under a quarter a gallon for premium, so I guess I should be more shocked that this seemed cheap. I'm more shocked at the price of milk.)
There is a growing joy and a lingering sadness as we finish our first day of heading West. The sadness comes, of course, from leaving Ben, Ruth, and Ashley behind, and not knowing when we'll see them next. How much will Ashley have changed and grown? Now she's crawling. In fact, in search of her Mommy, she went all the way from living room to the kitchen, quite a distance on hands and knees for a little girl, especially when crying all the way. I know. I was crawling right next to her, and felt like crying too, since she wouldn't let me console her. The next time we see her, she'll be walking and talking, and she'll have to get to know us all over again. (I'll definitely be the one crying over that!)
The joy comes from knowing that in a couple of days we'll be seeing Aunt Cookie and the thundering herd of cousins in Wisconsin; then going to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) to see more cousins and Aunts Louise and Dorothy and Uncle Peter; then back for another visit with Cookie. After that, we'll be on the road home, to our own slice of heaven on earth. We do love to travel, but now, finally, we also live somewhere that we love to go home to...