Week 12: Road Trip! Part 1 [Score +3]
Have you ever traveled with a friend? It can be a little daunting as you get to know the other person at a new level: what quirky habits do they have? What idiosyncrasies do I not know about? How do they handle new and unusual—perhaps stressful—situations? Will they still like me after spending 24 hours together for days in a row?
And most of all: will we still be friends when the trip is over?
I’ve traveled with friends a number of times over the years with mixed outcomes. The worst was a friendship-ending spring break in college: I stayed with a friend and her parents at their condo in Florida for the week. The setting was beautiful, the beach inviting, the weather lovely. But from the moment her parents picked us up at the airport on our arrival to the moment they dropped us off to depart, my friend did not cease to talk in one way: baby talk.
That’s right. A week of baby talk. I’m not exaggerating.
Years have passed since that fateful spring break, and I’ve thankfully not let it hold me back from exploring the world with other friends. I’m happy to say that my road trip with a girlfriend/colleague this past weekend ended with our friendship still intact and closer than it was before. Celebrate!
Our destination: Mammoth Cave National Park.
I’ve lived in central Indiana my whole life but had never before made the four-hour drive to this park in southwestern Kentucky. I’ve tried to get family members to go with me a few times over the years, but whether for lack of interest or lack of desire to test one’s level of claustrophobia, none took me up on the idea.
Until I became coworkers, then friends, with Gina. This adventurous woman has a straightforward but challenging bucket list: visit all 59 National Parks in the U.S. It’s a big goal that could take a lifetime for some people to complete. But our visit to Mammoth Cave counts as her fifth visit to a park in 2017 alone. It’s only May!
Gina flew in from her hometown of Denver on Friday night, then we packed up my car on Saturday morning to make our leisurely way down to Bowling Green, Kentucky with an afternoon in Louisville on the way.
But our best-laid plans screeched to a halt when, as I was merging from one interstate to another on the south side of Indianapolis, my car wouldn’t accelerate. Then it would surge forward. Then stop accelerating again.
Blinkers on, I quickly got us off onto the shoulder of the highway, then turned the car off for a few minutes so I could sit in shock and consider what had just happened. Car trouble is not something I routinely deal with.
I restarted the car, rejoined the interstate traffic, and the same thing happened again and led us back to the side of the road.
This time, after sitting for ten minutes without running, my car started back up and drove normally enough for me to turn around and get us back to my service center, where they (of course) found nothing wrong, then to my dad’s house, where he let me trade him vehicles for the weekend.
A few hours after our initial departure, we finally got back on the road. From the moment the car first acted up, my stomach was tied in knots of anxiety, but Gina stayed cool and flexible as could be as I figured out what to do. I was grateful for her patience when the future of our first trip together was uncertain.
We did manage to make a stop in Louisville, albeit a short one, and we made that stop at the Lousiville Slugger Museum and Factory downtown. This is a must-see for any baseball fan, and you don’t need to carve out a whole day to visit it. The museum itself held little interest for me (I’m not a baseball fan), but I love a good factory tour.
This tour is a speedy one—about 30 minutes—but in that time, we got to see the original method for bat-making as well as the methods and equipment they use today. The smell of sawdust always inspires nostalgia in me, reminding me of my grandfather’s and uncle’s woodworking shops, so this noisy, efficient factory felt homey at the same time. The factory is the working factory that today produces 1.8 million bats every year—that’s 3,000-5,000 per day—for major- and minor-league players as well as anyone else who wants to buy a bat.
While I was bummed that we didn’t get to spend more time exploring Louisville, even a brief one-hour stop was a great way to break up the drive. After a delicious dinner at the White Squirrel Brewery in Bowling Green, we found our peaceful, out-of-the-way, Airbnb rental apartment and crossed our fingers that the next day’s weather would allow us to do some above-ground exploring of the Park.
To be continued in my next post!
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Left the house: +1
- Did something entirely new: +1