My husband has been going stir crazy ever since the drought of TV sports began, eager to go somewhere. Anywhere! We cancelled last week's trip to Baltimore to see our daughter and family. In April we intended to return to where we used to live in Brazil for a wedding. We won’t be going. We hadn’t planned a road trip to Montana, but that’s where we went.
In February my mother-in-law flew out to see her daughter’s family an hour south of Seattle for a birthday and a couple concerts. (Hey! This is a musical family. We’re very supportive of one another’s performances.)
She got in one concert before the other was cancelled. She even attended a junior high band concert the night before they closed down the Washington schools. (My sister-in-law is a junior high teacher. I told you we are supportive of music activities!) By the time of the birthday, we were getting nervous about airports with thousands of potentially infected people passing through. Hence the spur-of-the-moment road trip. They started in Puyallup, and we started in Wisconsin, and we met halfway in Billings, Montana--to get Mom. We couldn’t even sit down for lunch together before starting back. Each car waited in line at a fast food drive-through, and we continued our separate ways.
Traffic was light across Minnesota and North Dakota, but not non-existent. I found myself wondering where the other people on the road were going and why at a time like this? It was weird to pass shopping malls and restaurants with no cars in the parking lots. Gas stations were open, but most highway rest stops were closed. When we stopped, I went ahead of Mom (at the vulnerable age of 94), wiping down surfaces with the Clorox wipes I had found under the sink at home. I discovered that although truck stops regularly clean the tops of the hand rails in the handicapped toilets, they mostly miss the bottoms. Yuck. Maybe I should carry Clorox wipes all the time.
Of course, restaurants were closed, and Medora, North Dakota, where we stopped the first night, has no fast food—something I would normally appreciate. Fortunately, I had made a quick trip to the grocery at home for a can of chili and corn chips, instant mac and cheese and a selection of Hormel Completes for the microwave. I also brought a Tupperware of raw vegies and the last of the Christmas cookies out of the freezer. One night we found KFC, which the hotel allowed us to eat in their empty dining room.
We stayed two nights in Medora. The day between my husband and I took advantage of the trip to wander Theodore Roosevelt National Park, grasslands and badlands of awesome beauty. The handful of other cars we saw had North Dakota license plates. We got closer to the bison than to other people—a wonderful place to practice social distancing.
We did a little hiking despite the lingering snow.
It was too cold to eat our picnic lunch outside, so we found a nice overlook and ate in the car.
Monday night the three of us made it safely home after four days of sitting in the car, ready to hunker down, work from home, and continue praying for a world in crisis. We intend to isolate ourselves from others, but I'm grateful for a day of distraction from the news, a day filled with being outside in the midst of God’s awesome creation. And I’m really glad to have Mom home in the Northwoods rather than in urban Washington.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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