As with any move, there are always hiccups. Coordinating the departure from one residence with moving into the next one doesn’t always turn out as planned. Thankfully we had great friends to take us in.
Though the car was loaded with the two weeks’ necessities and the furniture had already gone, the final morning felt like a hurried escape before the occupying army closed the borders. We hadn’t exactly buried our valuables or sewn jewels into the lining of our coats, but the new occupant was taking possession in a few hours. We didn’t want to leave anything, as we’d likely never see it again.
Many hours later we made it to our first “safe house” and I was overjoyed to see a comfortable bed in a beautiful bedroom after nights on an air mattress. Our next two houses and hosts were just as lovely, and I’ll never forget the hospitality and the great visits before the new house was ready and we were finally on our way.
Floating from house to house requires loading and unloading every few days; the experience was exactly like a very long road trip. There was a period of time (read: decades) when I hated road trips. I wanted to reach the destination in a hurry and cared nothing for the journey. If it took forever to get somewhere and you were coming back, I dreaded the thought of having to get back into the car and do it all in reverse.
It wasn’t until my first cross-country move—a one-way trip—when I came to appreciate rising early to make the most of daylight. Get on the road before the sun comes up, and stop along the way for the kind of substantial breakfast to sustain a person for a few more hours of marathon driving. I’m reminded of those trips with my grandparents when they took us to Texas or Mexico back in the 1970s. While I don’t remember stopping for breakfast an hour or so after leaving their house, I clearly recall the breakfasts we ate on the way home.
We’d leave San Antonio and head out of town on highway 281 because the back road was considered safer. Besides, traffic jams on interstates would slow us down more than a two-lane highway shared by an occasional farmer moving a wide piece of equipment down the road at a snail’s pace. Even from an early age, I wasn’t buying that excuse. I could tolerate some occasional road congestion on a four-lane interstate if it meant getting home as little as 15 minutes earlier, but it was their car and their rules so I dozed while we spent the next eight hours creeping down the road.
My grandparents’ apprehension of traffic allowed for more scenic drives, and the best part was stopping for breakfast in Johnson City or Marble Falls, depending on our schedule and how hungry the adults were. Since you’d stop again for lunch at 11:30, a breakfast at 5:30 didn’t seem so extraordinary. It was in a roadside diner in one of those towns where I discovered hash browns.
People in my life were always cranking out breakfasts as if the diners were plowing the back forty, and I suppose at times someone was. There was always a lot of bacon and eggs, pancakes and sausage, but I’d never seen hash browns. These perfectly seasoned, crispy potato shreds cooked by some guy who, by the looks of his faded tattoo, had learned to make them in the military became my instant favorite.
Eating breakfast out remains one of my preferred weekend or road trip activities. Good nutrition is always on my mind, but discovering that a particular menu item comes with a choice of hash browns, cottage cheese or fruit means I’ll be forgetting everything I know so I can make the worst dietary choice. Pondering silently, I tell myself that I’ll be back to the gym and eating better once we unpack and settle into familiar routines. Therefore, these few remaining days on the road mean a few more fluffy biscuits, excessive fat and grated potatoes browned to perfection. There’s no way I can leave a single bite.
© 2015 by Patrick Brown
Visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Brown/e/B005F0CYH2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1419885131&sr=8-1 to learn about my books “Moral Ambiguity” and “Tossed Off the Edge.”