The Mad Dash…

… “Mom, I’ve been thinking”…

Now you have to understand, that whenever I heard those words, during the eight months, Charles and I, were together, this last go around, I had learned that I’d better listen very closely, or run very fast! Of course, anytime I said those words “Charlie? …I’ve been thinking?” Charles had the same inclinations!

Charles came to me with the idea of the Mad Dash while we were at the Rhea Campgrounds. He said, “I’ve been thinking, Mom,” (those dreaded words!) “What we really need to do, is get across the country in one Fell Swoop. Just put all of our energy into just getting across the country in one Mad Dash”.

At first, I was absolutely against the idea, because we just didn’t have the funds, much less the energy, to make that kind of run. But Charles kept going, but Mom, if we did this, and if we did that, and if we were to squeeze a little here. So I prayed about it, and I thought about it long and hard. I realized that it would actually be better, all-around, for both of us, if we could get back to Arizona as quickly as possible. Now I won’t go into all of the details of which, Peter, I robbed, so that I could pay, Paul, but trust me we had our belt notches, squeezed up, at least two or three notches each!

The original concept for getting back to Arizona, was to take two or three months, so that we would not tap out all of our funds. But there were so many reasons to get back to Arizona quickly, and there were even more reasons to get off the east coast as fast as possible. We actually wound up getting caught in the tail end of hurricane Harvey as we were coming through Tennessee. We had to pull off the road because the freeway, I-40, was flooded so deeply. We then spent the first few hours sitting in the drivers seats of our vehicles, in a truck stop parking lot with the wind and rain literally lashing out at our vehicles.  Trust me. There was no way either one of us were getting out until there was a lull in the storm. That was a pretty wild ride and hurricane Harvey had already been reduced to a subtropical storm at that point. We needed to get away from the constant source of mold. Even driving through the forest was problematic for both, Charles and I. So the more we talked about it, and the more we look at the figures, and the mileage, and what bills we could put off, the more it seemed possible. When you considered the sudden hike in gas prices, because of the tornado, we thought we better run, before it got any worse. So the Mad Dash was on!

For most of you, crossing the country, may not be that big of a deal. For us? Not only we both still ill from our bout with mold, but we have to have the gas for two aging gas hogs, and one of those Vehicles was also ailing. Ailing badly. Sassy, could no longer run during the daytime at all. Unless the temperatures were below 70 degrees, then she could only go 55 mph, or she would start overheating. At the tail end of August, beginning of September, in the south, temperatures under 70° were not something you saw very often. So we would have to wait, usually until very late at night, technically, the wee hours of the morning, and then try to run as far as we could before the sun would come up.  I don’t even know how many times we wound up parked, on the side of the road, waiting for my van to cool off. Charles can tell you, there was one night, when we only did about 200 miles, but it took us a little over eight hours to accomplish that mileage!  

As you can see from these dates, I am way behind in my posting. But this, too, was an event I wanted to have a record of!  Especially, coming out of Little Rock, and even that last stop in Holbrook!

This was the night hurricane Harvey had us stopped! But still, not too shabby for our first day, excuse me, night. Oh my!

This was a wild night, but I believe, we were blessed by an angel this night. Trying to drive at 50 or 55 miles an hour on the freeway, has a tendency to get people a little irritated with you. There are times when it can even be a little dangerous. Another good reason to drive at night. But this night, it was not going to be cool enough. Not even at 55 mph. I told Charles, we will just go really slow and pray a lot. Charles said, “Yes, we will pray a whole lot!” We got on the freeway doing 45, the minimum you could go without flashers. Since my blinkers didn’t work at all, it set the bar. Just after we got on the freeway, a car pulled out in front of us that was only doing about 45 miles an hour!  I was so grateful, because it was really a little bit too warm to be driving the van yet. We were so desperate to keep going, because it was going to hot that next day. This night was our best shot at getting through that area for the next several days. But driving that slow on the freeway can be nerve wracking in its own way. We followed that little car for what seemed like hours and hours. Then. Just after, he or she, exited the freeway, I felt that cooler air coming in the window.  That little car was there for us, until we got out of that hot spot, and we were actually in cooler territory. We could speed up to the 55 and be okay.  Thank you Lord, for that slow driving angel! 

Charles kept on saying, on the way to Arlington, and all the way back to Tennessee from Arlington, that we would eventually get our stride back, and be able to drive for a longer time. I think we hit it here!

The number of cellular, radio, and television, towers, that we wound up stuck next too on this trip? Arrrgh!

So what happened in Holbrook? I’m glad you asked!

I had one of the loveliest compliments I have had in a very long time.  

It was somewhere around 4 in the morning and we were exhausted. We stopped to get gas at the little Maverick station there in Holbrook, Arizona. I looked like something that the cat had dragged in, and then mauled for hours, but the Mad Dash was almost done. A trip that pushed both, Charles and I, far beyond our limits.  I must have just been glowing with gratitude. I was smiling, while I was pumping gas. I was so grateful to be close to the end of The Mad Dash, even though I didn’t know where I was going to stay, even knowing that most of the places that I used to stay at, were no longer an option for me.  Somehow, I knew it was going to be okay. So I was just beaming with goodwill! I got my gas, and I missed the receipt, so I went inside, and asked the gentleman for the receipt to pump number 8, and he said “Certainly, I can get that for you.” I told him thank you so much and I hoped he would have a wonderful rest of the day. He then said “I hope you have a wonderful day too.” He paused for a moment, then said something, that was such a surprise.  “As a matter of fact, I hope the rest of your day, is as beautiful as you are.” I had started to turn away, but when he said that, I turned back, and looked at him, and realized, that he was being quite sincere. He wasn’t being salacious, or funny.  Extraordinary!  I told him, he just made my day, and he said that he meant every word.  What an incredible thing! But perhaps the most astonishing part, is that, I actually believed him.  It’s been a long time since anyone has told me that I was beautiful. I had not ever believed it before, and perhaps that’s why. But that’s a story for another day.  I can tell you, gentle reader, the memory of that night, will be something I will treasure, almost as much as our slow driving angel, for the rest of my life! 

This entire trip, for me, has been an incredible time of growing, learning, and even a time of accepting. But that night felt like? Somehow, it felt like it was a turning point for me. One of those Forks in the road, where you can choose to go right, or choose to go left.  I could have been sad, depressed, and upset, because we were coming back to a place where I had nowhere to stay, but instead I was grateful. I chose to be grateful for that day. Just that day. That’s something I have been trying to do for a long time. Choosing to be grateful.  That night, I was truly there. Knowing that the next day, if the good Lord let me have one, would be safe in His hands.

Charles and I, have both agree that despite the beauty that came out of this trip, it’s not something we would, willingly, do again! But like so many of the events in my life, that have been so hard, and so difficult, and often even, life threatening, I am now, very grateful that it did happen! 


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