The Little Kia that Could – Part 3

After Sunday in the mountains, Mom and I were more than ready to be back at a low elevation. As beautiful as the mountains were, I think we were both tired of curving upwards. Despite being a scuba diver, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with my ears and elevation changes. My commentary on our car trip had been reduced to, “Oh look… we’re driving up hill. Again. Surprise!” Mom would laugh at my dry tone, knowing that I was thrilled with the whole trip, even though I really wanted the elevation changes to stop. Ironically, as I write the last installment of our road trip, I’m once again at an elevation well above sea level, sitting on a plane to Hawaii.

My annoyance with our continued path up mountains not withstanding, Monday and Tuesday were an entirely different type of hectic from the several days of travel. We left Nevada early in the morning on Monday with about 5 hours left to reach San Diego. After the past 4 days of constant travel, 5 hours seemed like nothing.

Up to this point Mom had done most of the morning driving and I had done a lot of the afternoon driving. This didn’t seem to matter much, but since we were driving basically due West, it put Mom directly in the sun’s path for 4 days. She had the rising sun on her all morning in the driver’s seat, and then the setting sun on her for a good portion of the afternoon. To put a little context behind this, Mom is Irish. Incredibly Irish. Of the pale skinned and easily burned variety. My sister is the same. Somehow I escaped the Irish skin (thank you Dad!), but even I was a little burned by the time our mostly sunny 4-day drive was done. (Maybe the snow and relief from the sun on Sunday was more of a blessing than either of us realized.)

By Monday mid-morning Mom was looking lobsterish and starting to feel sun sick. She alternated chugging water and napping while I took over the rest of the drive. We had smooth sailing into San Diego, right up until I missed the turn off into the city, and ended up getting trapped on a dead end street into the naval base. By the time I realized what I had pulled off into, there was nothing to do but make an awkward U-turn and hope no cops were paying attention. We had an iPad with us, but Mom still had a headache and reading the small print on the iPod while I jolted up and down the hills of San Diego in my little standard wasn’t helping anything. (For reference, the jolting was due to stop lights on steep hills, and not an indication of my ability to drive a standard!) Eventually we pulled over and switched places.

Thus began a good hour and a half to two hours of trying to find a hotel. You may have already noticed from the tone of my narrative, but we only had loose plans for our trip. Mom and I traveling together tends to be a by the seat of the pants, do what looks fun sort of affair. We arrived in San Diego on Monday. Sunday, as luck would have it, a convention had pulled into town. We were laughed out of two hotels before someone finally took pity on us and directed us to hotel circle.

Hotel circle was outside of the main city, but close to the airport and close to where I was going to be dropping off the car. Luck was with us this entire trip, and Monday was no exception. Mom pulled into the first Residence Inn she found, right after someone had called in a cancellation. An hour earlier the Inn would have been booked, but an hour earlier we were lost in downtown still. I have this inclination that if you keep a positive attitude, most things work out for the best. My week in a car traveling cross country with Mom has done nothing to shake this belief!

We did a little exploring around Old Town San Diego, which is a cute little tourist trap, grabbed some food (our first since breakfast) and retired to the hotel pretty early. From the Residence Inn I finally managed to post the first part of the trip (already written the night previously), and write/post the second part. Mom tolerated my need to write with her usual good-naturedness and we sat watching Inception as I tinkered with phrases, photos and caught up on emails.

Tuesday was the type of crazy that you would expect from any big move. We needed a rental car since we were dropping mine off at the port. After Mom picked up a convertible rental (furthering her sun burn), we headed off into the city to find a oil change for me and got ourselves fantastically lost. Since we were no longer in the same car, navigating was a bit of an issue. As it turns out, it’s a lot easier to get around a strange city when one person drives and the other reads the map! (Amazing revelation, I know.) Eventually we found our way back to a thruway and the hotel, but not before exploring a large part of San Diego’s suburbs!

Next we headed to drop my car off. I cleaned it out one last time, gave it a wash and with little fanfare said goodbye to my little Kia for the next month. It was around 3 pm when we were all finished with our errands, and suddenly our stomaches reminded us both that we had skipped breakfast and gotten too busy for lunch.

We ended up at Donovan’s Steakhouse. I spent most of our trip gnawing on soft bread and nursing my wisdom teeth. Mom had been repressing an urge to mom all week over watching me attempt to eat. She actually did a really fantastic job of not fussing, and I know it must have been hard. Not only was she moving her youngest daughter cross country and over an ocean, but I was eating like a bird and I’m slightly anemic to boot. Every time I passed up real dinner to nibble slowly on bread, every mom instinct must have been screaming to feed me more and feed me protein. My tribute to Mom’s restraint aside, I just want to say if you’re ever in San Diego, stop at a Donovan’s! The steak was amazing and tender enough for me to eat even though everything still hurt a bit.

At the end of the day we never got the chance to really explore San Diego, and I took almost no pictures the last two days. What I do have are some memories to last a lifetime. Across the country, at every restaurant, people reacted with surprise and amazement that we were driving cross county. “Wait… you’re driving cross country with your mom?” Followed by “How’s that going?”

Well, it went great actually! It’s not the first week we’ve spent with no one’s company but our own and I hope it won’t be the last. We talked, explored, took pictures, teased one another and as I said, made some memories to last a lifetime. As excited as I am for the next part of this adventure in Hawaii, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a little hard to leave her in the airport. I’d make the trip cross country with Mom again in a heartbeat. I’d even take the Kia, though maybe next time I’ll pick another route-one with less mountains, no snow and some new terrain to take pictures of.

Although the adventure of the Little Kia that Could is over, stay tuned for more! By the time I post this I’ll be in Hawaii working on a whole new chapter of life and Branded.



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