Driving to Alaska: Day 1

April 15, 2019

Seymour, Indiana – Madison, Wisconsin

Driving to Alaska feels like a big deal. While I’m not worried about anything specifically, I’m just aware that this is a unique and big thing to do on my own. I have to wonder what sort of meaning or lesson is hidden along this path I’m taking. I downloaded four live-worhship albums on my phone in preparation for this, in hopes that perhaps the songs will lead me to what I’m supposed to learn or realize.

Monday morning, I said goodbye to Martha and Randy. It’s just never going to be an easy task, I’m telling you. I knew my father-in-law would be leaving the house early for work, so I told him to wake me up before he left. He came into my bedroom and gave me a sweet hug, but I ended up chasing him downstairs and out to the driveway for another one before he actually went to work. It hurts, every time. I did the same thing with Martha, after I’d had coffee and packed everything back into my truck. I think I ran back inside twice for another squeeze from her.

After I got on the road, I had to make the conscious choice to be ok. I couldn’t let myself feel emotions. I had too many miles ahead of me. I put my big girl panties on and drove.

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My first planned pitstop was in Greenwood, Indiana to have a cup of coffee with Liv. Since she was along my route of travel, it only seemed right to see her once again before I left the state for who knows how long.

We met at Brickhouse coffee and found something scrumptious and mocha to sip while we just sat in each other’s presence for one last hour. I think Ralphie was even feeling the pain of goodbyes by the end of it all.

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I’d spent a couple of weekends in Chicago while I was in high school. Two of my brothers-in-law went to college up there, and I’d accompanied the family when visiting them to watch their soccer games. During one of those visits, our car got broken into. On another visit, we were on the interstate when we witnessed a four car pile-up, merely yards away from us. I guess I should’ve learned my lesson with this city by now. But, I’m an adventurist…

I drove into Chicago from the south, along the scenic route, with the road running next to Lake Michigan. The water on my right, I could see some of the parks, sculptures, and buildings I wanted to get pictures of on my left. I started looking for any safe seeming place to park. I pulled into an underground parking lot before reading that it was $34 to park for any amount of time. I briefly considered street parking next to a meter, but those were all filled, not to mention the fact that I’m in a massive truck with an extended bed and a bike rack attached, currently.

It was odd to be in such an enormous city alone. I was apprehensive, but I also always want to be perceived as friendly. I would’ve welcomed any stranger that started a conversation. I was nervous and fired up by excitement at the same time; I’m sure it was obvious on my face. I was in Chicago. I was away. I was out. I was on an adventure. People were thinking about my trip and praying over me and awaiting any updates I would later have. A story was about to be told and I was eager to watch it play out before my eyes.

Ralphie and I walked a mile and a half down the lakefront, towards the city. I stopped several times to take pictures. I let Ralphie run into the water a few times. I noticed people watching me, surely noting that I was an outsider. I know I wasn’t giving off the aura of a local. I looked like I didn’t live near Chicago. I was way too hyper about it all.

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Slowly, we made our way back to the truck to keep up with the ETA I’d given Aunt Roanna and Colleen for that evening. I’d be staying at their home in Wisconsin tonight. I checked on everything in the back of the truck and resituated the bikes on our bike rack. I loaded Ralphie into his puppy hammock and threw away any trash I’d accrued thus far. I drove towards the payment center of the parking lot and attempted to pay for my time spent there via debit card. An error messaged occurred. I thought nothing of it and reinserted the card. Error. I figured it just had to be the machine, so I backed up and pulled into the other payment center in an attempt to leave the parking lot. Twice I inserted my card, twice an error message appeared. Unwise as it may be, I don’t carry cash. I never have cash. I don’t have a credit card, either. My only method of payment was literally this 3.5 inch card in my hand that was procuring a red error screen.

The two payment centers were the only way out of the parking lot. They were secured by those metal arms stretching over the lane, I couldn’t simply drive away. I googled “ATMs near me” on my phone to find it was 3 miles to the nearest one. I didn’t feel like I had the time to walk there and back. Plus, two hours of walking would add another two hours of parking onto my tab. That’d be a minimum of $36 just for this little walk I only really wanted to take to give my dog exercise.

I got out of the car and looked around for a business or personal name of whomever owned this parking lot. Eventually, near a security camera, I found a help number, which I called. The person who answered was beyond agitated that I assumed she’d be able to help me in any way. I described my situation and she responded, “Well, what do you want me to do?” I replied, “Um, I’m literally stuck here in this parking lot. I’m not sure what to do myself.” She added, “Huh. You need to figure something out because I can do nothing for you.” I said, “I’m trapped. I’m not sure what I should do, something as dramatic as calling the police for help?” “Sure. Go ahead and do that-*click*” she hung up. I might have shed a few tears out of stress in this moment, but I wasn’t about to call the Chicago PD. What the hell were they going to do? I’m not one who finds peace or comfort in policemen. They’re just people. Were they going to pay my parking tab? Yeah, right. It was then that I noticed the only thing keeping me from driving on the walking path near the lake was a few shrubs and small trees. From the walking path, I could connect to the real road after about a quarter of a mile. So, I took a video of myself trying to pay for parking and took pictures of the error messages that flashed, and drove my full ton truck over the trees and walking path to get back to the road.

And that is how became a minor criminal in Chicago.

I felt like a woman on the run for a solid hour after that incident. I was sure that at any moment, I’d hear sirens and see headlights heading towards me. Over $12, hahahaha.

This should come as no surprise: no one ever came for me. I made it to my aunt’s house, safe and sound. At the end of day one, it felt overwhelmingly freeing to let Ralphie out of the truck to run around on a familiar property. Roanna and Colleen both had work events going on the evening of my arrival, so I had their house to myself for a few hours. I totally decompressed and gorged myself on an excess of their food. Don’t ever tell me to make myself at home in your house, because I absolutely will.

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Ralphie loved spending time with his puppy cousins!

Day 1 Milage Total: 387

Liv – Authentically

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