Four years ago, my husband and I were living with his parents in a Kansas City suburb. It was the middle of the recession. I was finishing my thesis; he was looking for his first ‘real’ job, which eventually he found in Charleston, South Carolina.
That February, we packed ourselves, our dog, a giant pot of lemon grass and a makrut lime tree into our thoroughly abused Toyota Corolla and headed to the east coast FOREVER.
On the way, we picked up a tiny puppy on the side of the road from a sketchy-yet-endearing couple somewhere near Greenville, South Carolina. Cash and dog crates were exchanged (but not addresses) in the parking lot of an abandoned, old restaurant in the pine barrens.
We had no place to live and our puppy was a crazed jumping bean bearing more resemblance to a Tasmanian devil than a dog, but it didn’t matter much. Afterall, we were a family!
We set up camp in a Red Roof Inn in Charleston and put our lemon grass and makrut lime tree on the sidewalk in front of our hotel room. I’m sure we looked insane. Luckily, our neighbors, a bunch of loud, sixty-something Parrotheads in town for a Jimmy Buffet event, had little room to talk. They stayed up all night laughing and drinking beer, blasting Margaritaville. We embraced the madness. I always do, because all good stories are a little mad.
That is the tale of how we became a family of four (two humans, two fur babies), trekking across the country by car. We’ve been making this crosscountry road trip once a winter, every winter since, usually at Christmas. Caravaning is in my blood. Every year, my husband swears this is the last year he lets me talk him into driving. (Civilized people hire dog sitters and fly home for the holidays.) And, every year, we all pile into the car.