Solo Road Trip: Part One

Of course, I wasn’t technically alone; Lily and Emmy were in the back seat. But I was driving 300 miles without my road trip partner-in-crime. Ed had to teach his class that weekend, so I was “on my own.” The girls and I left after school to go to a family reunion in Midland, Michigan. It was Friday, and also unfortunately was rush hour. It took us a while to get out of the Chicago area. Then it was smooth sailing through Indiana, where we found a Culver’s to eat dinner. Usually we get our food delivered to our table right away, but this time, it took 20 minutes for our food to come.

That was okay, I thought, because then we had time to call Ed and say good night. It was only around 7:00, but he was going to bed early because his class started early the next day.

Road Trip with Kids

After dinner, we had a nice drive through Michigan. It was getting late, and Emmy and Lily fell asleep. Everything was going well until we got to Grand Rapids. All of a sudden traffic ground to a halt. It took me half an hour to get through Grand Rapids because of a car that had obviously been on fire, and then a bunch of fender benders from the people who had been gawking at the accident. The lights from all the traffic and the city woke up Lily. It is also potentially my swearing that woke her as well.

Finally Grand Rapids was fading in the distance, and we were on our way again. The country roads were dark, and as it became later, there was less traffic. I’m usually not a GPS girl and rely on maps, but this time, the GPS on my phone was very useful. Suddenly, however, we lost an hour. I had been predicting that we would arrive in Midland at around 11:30 p.m., and then the GPS spoke up and said we would be at our destination at 12:39 p.m. Lily was very unhappy with this announcement; she wanted a warm bed to lie down in! After I explained that there was a time change, she felt a little better. She was still tired!

I began to worry a little bit. I’d never been to this hotel before; what if I was supposed to call for a late arrival? What if there was a mix-up with our room? Surely I didn’t need to worry about these things, so I pushed those thoughts out of my head.

As I drove into town, I had a new worry. Where the heck was I going to park? The hotel was right on the street in the downtown area, and I didn’t see a parking lot!

I passed the hotel and turned right. Ta-Da! There was a parking garage clearly marked for the hotel. I got my tired girls out of the car and headed for the door, wondering if I would find the lobby. Ta-Da! I saw three people as soon as I walked into the hotel. “You must be Mrs. Grabske!” a woman said. I was a little surprised, but not really. She explained that my dad had been telling her about me and that I would be coming soon with my two little girls. Before I knew it, we were checked in and I was tucking my two tuckered girls into bed.

My aunt said the next day that I had a God moment, finding the parking garage and checking in so easily. I thought it was just good luck, but as I thought about it, yes, I believe God really was taking care of me. Once again, I could see God’s fingerprints in my life. I don’t always notice them, or take them for granted, but He is always with me, protecting me. God moments, indeed.

Read on!  Part Two and Part Three





Yosemite, Day Three and Four

Every day before we set out, I would look at our Visitor Guide. By looking at the map and hiking information, I could plan our day to get the most out of our time spent in the park. On our last full day in Yosemite, we drove to Glacier Point. All the glaciers are long gone, but Yosemite Valley was carved out by slow moving glaciers. Glacier Point is up high, and gave us a gorgeous view of the Valley.

Half Dome

Despite the altitude, it was very warm. We wandered around and ate our picnic on a big slab of black-and-white speckled granite. We were in one of those places where there isn’t much to do except gaze around in wonder. Oh, yes, and there was much climbing and walking on rocks, which is always fun. It was hard to pull ourselves away from Glacier Point.

walking on rocks

Our second stop was Mariposa Grove, which is known for its giant Sequoia trees. Since it was later in the day, parking was a problem. We parked in a far away lot, and then took the shuttle bus up to the grove, which worked well.

Roots from the Fallen Monarch Sequoia, which has been preserved for centuries by the natural tannic acid Sequoias have in their wood.
Roots from the Fallen Monarch Sequoia, which has been preserved for centuries by the natural tannic acid Sequoias have in their wood.
Mariposa Grove, Yosemite
California Tunnel Tree
Mariposa Grove, Yosemite
The Grizzly Giant

While we were busy looking up at these magnificent trees, it’s hard to remember to look down. When I did, I saw this cute squirrel grabbing a pine cone lunch. That little pine cone is a Sequoia pine cone, which is about the size of a chicken egg. Isn’t it amazing to think that such huge trees come from such little seeds?

squirrel among horsetail plants
squirrel among horsetail plants

On our fourth day in Yosemite, we were only passing through. We drove over the Sierra Nevada mountains on one of the only passes, Tioga Road. Of course, we couldn’t just drive through, although we didn’t have time to explore as much as we wanted to. Tioga Road’s elevation goes up to 10,000 feet.

Tioga Road

Yosemite view from Tioga Road

We stopped for lunch at Tuolumne Meadows, where we saw some backpackers who were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It goes right through Yosemite, and is the same trail Cheryl Strayed hiked and then wrote about in her book Wild. I loved that book, and so I wanted to put my feet on the PCT just to say that I did. But the trail I actually followed for a few minutes with Lily and Emmy was just a trail from the restaurant/post office to the campground. As we were pulling out to continue our drive across the mountains, I saw the sign for the PCT, but we needed to get on our way. Next stop: a ghost town at Bodie State Historical Park!

Are you tagging along on our California trip? Here’s more posts:

Meeting Gretchen from Second Blooming in Los Angeles
Hiking the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in San Luis Obispo
Yosemite, Day One
Yosemite, Day Two
Suddenly in Death Valley