Archive for the ‘Road trip’ Category

The last couple of nights I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with nightmares. They were very different, but both had loose ties (very loose) with my old life when I lived in Blackstone and got married. I know it’s probably because I’m at that place again – major changes are happening in my life.

Today is two years from the day I had my double mastectomy. I felt like I was one person when I went under the anesthesia and another when I woke up. I mourned the old me for a long time and found that the only way I could cope with being cancer girl was to share my journey and hopefully help others who were struggling through the same shock.

Well, I can’t say I’ve come full circle as I will never be that girl again. Cancer will always be a part of me (hopefully more figuratively than literally). But I am done thinking about it every single day. I’m ready for it to be just a small part of me rather than the main focus. And that’s why I’m “ending” this blog.

I discussed this with fellow blogger Jypsy J. Book last night and she convinced me not to actually end it completely, but to evolve it once again. “Why start over with a whole new blog,” she asked. “You’ve built this one up so much and you’ve already shifted it once from your original travel blog to your cancer blog – just evolve it again.”

So this morning I texted Cory and told him that today, on the two year anniversary of my surgery, I was going to put my blog on hiatus. My phone immediately rang. “This doesn’t mean you’re going to stop writing, does it?” he asked. And that is one of the many reasons I love him.

No, I will not stop writing. I just need to figure out what I really want to write about.  I’ve felt guilty letting so much time go by between these entries – like I’ve let my readers down – but I haven’t wanted to dwell on or analyze every single cancer experience and thought that I’ve had lately. So I know it’s time to move on.

I am going to change the “About” section in the header of this blog to direct people looking for my breast cancer experience to those dates, and the travel readers to the earliest entries. And – probably in a few weeks or months – I will be back with a new focus. Of course, I completely understand if you want to unsubscribe if it’s only cancer-related stories that you’re interested in. (This is starting to sound like a break-up letter…) Otherwise, I hope you’ll stick with me for my next adventure… Thank you ALL for ALL of your love, support, positive thoughts, prayers, kind words and friendship – I never would’ve made it through the cancer journey without every one of you by my side!!!



p.s. Some have asked why I’m ending this today and not after next Thursday. To be honest, this simply felt right: the day they cut the cancer from me. Everything won’t be done next week – I still suffer from lymphedema; I am on Tamoxifen for another nine or so years. But I leave an open invitation for any breast cancer sisters who want to know about the 3-D nipple tattoos to e-mail me and I will be happy to give them a play-by-play on the entire experience! I am always here to answer ANY questions – big or small – for anyone dealing with breast cancer. The silver lining from this is that I can help others through it, and that will never change.

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So as I wrote these I thought how cliché and dippy some of them are. I erased them all and started over multiple times. But they kept reappearing on the screen. Because even if they are dippy and cliché, they are true. They are the things that I’ve finally learned and come to know as true, and they help me every day in my quest for a happy life…

21. Do what makes you happy. Not because someone told you to. Not because it will make you money. Just do something because you love it. If you’re passionate about something, everything else will follow.

22. Happiness is contagious. It’s hard not to smile back. Make someone else smile today. It’ll make you happy. It’s a fabulous circle!

23. You know what else can make you happy? Running. I never would’ve believed it, but once I tried it, I found it’s true. That whole endorphin thing, I guess. I actually always think I hate running when I start out, but once I get going my mood totally improves, and after I always feel better than when I started.

24. Music. Another thing that can totally change your mood. (And why is it that you can always remember the words to songs, even (especially) the ones you can’t stand???)

25. Travel. Explore. Discover. Whether it’s by the Mediterranean Sea, the streets of San Francisco or the mountains of New Hampshire, you’ll find new aspects of you along the way.

26. Be yourself. Don’t try to be anyone else. You’ll never succeed and it’s not worth your time or energy. Love yourself as you are. But…

27. Know that if you are not happy with yourself, you are the one person who can change things. You have control over you. Don’t waste your time being miserable.

28. And don’t waste your time with people who don’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. If they make you cry more than smile, it’s a clue that you should get out. (It took me way too long to realize that one. Please trust me on this one and if that sounds like your relationship, get out now!)

29. In fact, don’t waste any time. Your time. Other people’s time. Nothing is more precious.

30. Guilt is a wasted emotion. If you feel guilty, do something about it. Change it. Or get over it.

31. Your parents probably do know best. And they will always worry about you, know matter how old you are. And when you become a parent, the worry will never end. It just comes with the job.

32.  Every day is another chance to start something new. Or start over. It can be whatever you want it to be.

33. Don’t let anyone else put you down, discourage you or tell you that you can’t do or be something. Usually they are the ones with the issue.

34. Encourage others. Boost them up. Help them find their way and thrive. It takes nothing away from you – you both win.

35. Spend time talking with your elders. Learn their stories. They are your stories, too, and they’ll be lost if you don’t listen… and spend time with the younger people in your lives, too. They can benefit from your experiences, and you can learn a lot from them, too – like how to relax and play! (Something I’m always trying to learn – the relax part…)

36. Learn the art of compromise. I’m trying. It’s something I’m still learning, but what I do know is that you can’t have everything your way all the time. And that’s ok.

37. Everything happens for a reason. We may not always understand it, but the reason usually becomes clear later on. (I’ve often thought that maybe the reason I got cancer was to help raise awareness and save others. So do your self checks people!!!)

38. Say thank you. Be grateful. Appreciate everyone who is there for you, helps you, loves you. Thank you are two words you can never say too much.

39. Pray. No matter where you are, what time it is or what’s happening around you, you can pray. It’s one thing that always helps make me feel better. And the other…

40. Deep breaths. Breathe. Just breathe.

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With Joncille and Aunt Patsy, October 2011

With Joncille and Aunt Patsy, October 2011

I. Hate. Cancer. I want to scream and cry and hit things. But none of it will bring my cousin back.

I found out this morning that my cousin Joncille – my dad’s cousin, so my second cousin if you want to get technical – passed away. She gave in to stupid cancer. She has been suffering off and on for years, and, according to my uncle, didn’t want to fight any more. I was shocked.

I got to know Joncille when I visited her and her husband in Sugar Land, Texas, on my road trip. (You can read about it here: https://amysamerica.com/2010/11/09/finding-my-roots-on-day-61/) They welcomed me into their home with open arms and I couldn’t have felt more at home. It was like we were long lost friends. It was actually the beginning of a great friendship. Joncille was a wonderful support through my treatment. A constant cheerleader, encouraging me to remain positive, to trust in God and to know that I really would get past it all.

“I would like you to know, though, that this too will pass, and you will move  through this hardship one day at a time and in the bright future it will seem  like a bad dream,” Joncille wrote to me – and she was right. She sent me love, thoughts and prayers for strength, courage and healing. And they gave me strength and will to continue to plow through treatment.

“…grab hold of the positive things. Doing that will absolutely save your life and your sanity,” she wrote to me.

“From one who knows, bald ain’t too bad. One swish with a wet wash cloth and you have washed, dried and styled your hair and are ready for the day. And again,  from one who knows, it grows back.” Yup, right again.

And when I found out I did, in fact, need radiation, Joncille gave me a new way to look at it: “I do want to warn you that when you first see the tattoo that  marks the spot to radiate, you will feel that you have been marked as a CANCER  VICTIM, but YOU ARE NOT!!!! They are marking a survivor. I knew a radiologist many years ago that envisioned the power of the Holy Spirit entering  her patients as she applied the radiation. I held that vision in my mind  when receiving mine. I promise that there is a life after cancer.  It  just seems like a never ending saga right now. Hang in one treatment at a  time and before you know it they will all be over.” I adopted that vision from Joncille, and it was such a comfort…

I feel robbed. It’s not fair. We didn’t get enough time together. I want to hear more of her stories. I want to take her up on her offer to return to Sugar Land with my Aunt Patsy, who was one of her best friends. Joncille and Aunt Patsy remind me of Tara and me, cousins, confidantes, travel buddies and dear friends… and that just makes it all hit home even more.

No, life is not fair. I guess we all know that by now. And life is short. So don’t waste it. Spend time with the people you care about. Tell them that you love them. Be a real friend. Cherish the time you have. You don’t know when it will end.

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Today was week 10 of Taxol. And it went very smoothly. Only two infusions: pepcid and Taxol, since I did well last week without any Benedryl or steroids. It makes it a quicker visit and I’m able to stay completely alert for the infusion. The port is working out well, although I was hoping it could come out right after the last infusion but it’s recommended I keep it in until after surgery in January. At least it’s not as tender any more so I can handle it bumping up against my boobs of steel until then…

There was another recommendation today, too: talk to the radiation team. I had decided not to do radiation for a number of reasons, but I never did meet with them after surgery. They never called and I didn’t call them. I know that’s pretty weak, and now that my doctor has pushed it, I will call and listen. It doesn’t mean I will definitely do it – I really, really don’t want to – but I will consider it. So while there are only two weeks to go with the Taxol, it may not be the end of treatment.

Nashville was a fabulous distraction. Tina has made it her mission to keep me distracted throughout this entire process and she certainly pulled off the ultimate distraction by winning this fabulous trip! We had such a good time, with so much packed into just a few days. It really was a once in a lifetime experience, thanks to Tina sharing our story, Give the Gift of Music and the Country Music Association.

Music has always been healing for me. Certain songs are like therapy. And for a country music fan, being back in Music City brought a rush of emotions. In part it felt kind of like I was back on the road trip, and brought me back to where I was in my life two years ago, thinking about the road I’ve taken (literally and figuratively) and how much things have changed, for better or worse. If I’d chosen to settle in xxxx, how would this story have gone? One thing I know for sure, I am so thankful I’m in Boston, for the incredible support network of friends and family, to be working at Genzyme and because of Dana-Farber. I know that some of the other parts of the country I considered moving to do not have anything that (at least in my mind) compares to the support and the care I am so lucky to have here.

Tina was a great balance of watching over me (reminding me to wear a mask on the plane so I didn’t get sick and going with a slower pace, including daily naps) and finding us fun things to do.  I was excited to go to a few places I didn’t get to see on my road trip, like the Loveless Cafe, The Country Music Hall of Fame and the inside of The Ryman. And then there were the shows…

The CMAs were simply awesome. We had great seats and you could feel the excitement vibrating throughout the arena. From the moment the lights dimmed and the live show began, it was more like a concert with a few awards sprinkled in than a typical awards show. We couldn’t have asked for a better show to see in person!

We returned to the arena two nights later to see another show: the taping of the CMA Country Christmas show, which will air on TV in late December. Many of the same artists performed, with a few new ones sprinkled in like John Legend and Colbie Caillett. What was really interesting was because this isn’t live, there was a ton of stop and starts, and some retakes, even of songs. So what will be a one hour show took about three hours to tape. We enjoyed every second!

And while this was a great distraction, there was no completely getting away from things. Nearly every place we went, someone would ask me if I was still in treatment or what it is that I have. You guessed it – I went bald (well, I have a bit of baby hair now, but basically bald) the whole time, so was a little hard to miss. Had I worn a wig, I highly doubt I would’ve had any of those interactions. And I would have missed out on talking to so many kind, caring people who have had cancer or a close loved one with it. Honestly, making those connections are the best part of this nightmare experience.

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Where to start… (I can hear Julie Andrews singing in my head: “Let’s start at the very beginning… a very good place to start…”)

The Move

At about this time Thursday night, I was beginning to panic a bit. Mom and I were down to our last couple of boxes and we still had practically the entire kitchen (small as it was, there were plenty of things stored in those tall cabinets!) and my very crowded room. Luckily, Mike showed up with more boxes (my hero!) and we were able to continue our packing frenzy. We finally – after two late night strolls to the package store to procure even more boxes and one to CVS for more packing tape – called it a wrap around 2:30 a.m. Then it was up at 6:30 to finish and get the move done.

I’ll skip all the details and just say that while it took double the amount of time (and hence cost) than estimated for my size place, since I had so much STUFF jammed in there, the movers were great, and we had everything we owned in our new Brookline home by 2 p.m. Nick and I could never have done it without Mom! (Need moving help? We’ll rent her out! 😉 )

The list of things Nick and I want for the new apartment keeps growing – and truly morphed once we had all of our belongings here and saw there’s even more space than we thought. Bistro table and chairs for the patio, coffee table, maybe a new dining table and chairs, possibly a desk for me, a set of wine glasses since mine have almost all broken, new dishes that aren’t chipped … There’s no rush for most, but what I did feel the need to immediately purchase was a fourth bookcase to match the other three I got at Ikea in London. I didn’t want to unpack all my books until I had the shelves in order. So I texted Tina and she agreed to meet me at Ikea.

The Fall

On the way, I made a pit stop at The Christmas Tree Shop to check out their patio sets real quick. FYI, their patio furniture is all connected by little cords on the ground. While walking between, one of the cords caught on my flip flop and – in what felt like slow motion, I went flying through the air, landed on my (you guessed it) right arm, and slid across the sidewalk until coming to a stop by the curb. I just lay there in shock, trying to figure out where the pain was, if I could move and cursing myself for not landing on my left side. I was the only one out there, but a man and his wife were by the door, a few feet away, whispering to each other and watching me to see if I got up. I smiled at them, and pulled myself over to sit on the curb and collect myself.

When I realized how much I was bleeding (palm, elbow and knee), I hobbled inside to the Customer Service desk and they brought out an ancient first aid kit (luckily I had alcohol wipes in my purse since they didn’t have any) and the manager. He took an account of what happened and all my info while I bandaged myself up. And then off he went to have them fix the patio sets to try to prevent it from happening again.

I felt like a pathetic mess. This is not me! What did I do wrong that all these bad things keep happening?! I don’t want to whine, but really???? Tara came up with a theory: June 30 is the last day of it all. It’s the end of the first half of the year. The first half may have sucked, but the second half will be all about recovery. Healing and good things for a change. And while chemo is not fun, it is part of the process and will lead to health. Ok, I’ll buy it. I’m ready for July 1 and all the good stuff!

In slightly better spirits due to only one more not-so-great day if Tara is correct, I got myself over to Ikea and met Tina, who, like any good mother, offered to kiss my boo boos if it would help, then to push me in the carriage when I was having trouble walking and, finally, a piggy back ride toward the end of the long store. I appreciated all of the offers, but declined. The pain worsened as the night went on, and it hurt to straighten and bend it. So, after a brief panic over if this would be the beginning of lymphedema and better safe than sorry, Nick and Tina convinced me to go to the ER. Yet another hospital adventure!

Over the several hours, first in the waiting room and then in our own curtain room, Tina and I amused ourselves people watching and eavesdropping. It was –  to quote one of the EMS guys – a busy trauma night for Boston. We also kept each other laughing and mused over the fact that every time we’re in the hospital together we end up in fits of giggles, which you never hear coming from behind any other curtains. They probably think we’re crazy. We are, but that’s ok.

By 2:30 a.m. we had the answer: radial head fracture – crack in my elbow. I got a sling, pain instructions and orders to make a date with an orthapedic doctor. How many doctors does one girl need?!?!

A Break

While waking up this morning was not fun – neither the hour nor finding out my hair was starting to come out in chunks – it was for a good reason: Vanessa brought our visiting friend Trish over. Trish used to work with us at National Grid, and the three of us were Charlie’s Angels. It was so nice just to walk and talk and eat and laugh and catch-up. As with all good friends, it was like no time had passed at all, although the last time I saw Trish was at the end of the road trip, when our visit was cut short because I found out my grandmother had passed away and I needed to get home. There is never enough time, and the morning flew by too quickly. Hopefully Charlie’s Angels will reunite again in the not too distant future – we need Nick to win the lottery so we can start our non-profit PR business that he said he’ll finance!

The Shave

Once Trish and Vanessa left, I took a quick nap and then awoke to realize I could put it off no longer: there was practically more hair on my clothes and bed than on my head. Time for it all to go. I walked down the street to Alton Barbers, giving myself a pep talk along the way. While I felt I had to do it alone, I had all of my friends’ and family’s comments running through my head: bald is beautiful, it’s cool for summer, it will grow back, you’re still a princess, hair is just a pain in the butt, you are beautiful, you have great eyes and an infectious smile, G.I. Amy, big sombreros, be bold, you won’t have to shave my legs… see, I do listen, despite what some people think! 😉

Alton’s was empty when I walked in, except for the woman behind the counter. When she asked if she could help me, I just said, “I need to cut it all off.” She asked if I meant a crew cut or shaved and I said shaved. Her eyes widened, she asked if I was sure and I told her yes, because it would all be gone in a matter of days anyway. She half smiled, nodded in understanding and yelled “Mike!!!!”

Mike appeared from the back, showed me to a chair and the nice woman explained for me. He motioned toward a chair, and I sat while he prepped. My one request: “Can I please not face the mirror?” And he quickly swiveled me around. No one spoke the entire time. And then, after he used the blow dryer to blow away all the stray hairs, I broke the silence by smiling and saying “I didn’t think that hair cut was going to end with a blow dry!” They both laughed and then started gushing about how I have a perfect head and how women’s heads are so much smaller than men’s, how cool it will be for summer and how great I look. I turned toward the mirror and laughed at my bald reflection – so strange!!! I put on my pink Dana-Farber Red Sox hat (they gave me a new one when I was there Thursday morning since the other was stolen), and walked back to my new home.

I am ok. I am better than I thought I would be. I know I’m probably going to panic when I need to get ready to go out to a nice dinner, when I go to work Monday, possibly later tonight and probably a million other times, but for right now, I am ok. And I know I will be. After all, you all keep telling me I’m strong and beautiful, so I must be. Thank you… And Tara, I hope your Second half of the year theory proves to be true!

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Today is the first morning I’ve woken up with nothing definitive that I have to do. It’s been a whirlwind since I arrived home last week: my grandmother’s service, my nana’s 99th birthday, celebrating my cousin’s pregnancy, picking Nick up at Salem, bringing Steve to the airport, bringing my parents to the airport, bringing Nick back to Salem … People keep asking if it feels strange to be home. I don’t think I really realized I wasn’t leaving again until today, now that everything has calmed down and there isn’t anyone here who needs me. 

And it’s ok. I say I don’t have anything to do, but that’s pretty much never true. I already have plans for nearly every day this week. And I only have a month left of the leisurely life: I’ve just accepted a job, so it’s back to work on January 3. As I said before, I didn’t want to return to the corporate world unless everything fit – the job, the people, the overall package, the timing, the location – and it all seems right. I’m very excited about it; it’s a really challenging opportunity doing all facets of communications. I really can’t wait to get started!

So I need to take advantage of this next month. Ultimately, I want to move into the city, but I have to sell the house first. It’s off the market for the winter. I have a lot of decluttering to do! It’s also Christmas time, of course, so plenty to do there. And I have to pay a visit to Volvo – it wasn’t poor Aidan that broke, but the power outlet in my car. My, this month is going to fly by!

But before I delve into all my new to-do lists (Nick just showed me an article where Heidi Klum talks about all her lists – he pointed out I’m in good company), I have another list I want to share: my lessons learned. I’ve spent much time reflecting since I realized the road trip was ending. What was the point of this? Am I changed at all? Did I learn anything? Well, there were many reasons to go on the road trip – first and foremost to see the country. I think I did a pretty good job of that. I caught up with friends and family around the country. I tried to quell the ’empty-nest’ syndrome. I also was exploring my ‘what if’ – and got my answer. 

My lessons learned:

  • Never say never. I am pretty stubborn, so when I say never, I mean it. I now know I can’t say never any more (even ‘I’ll never get married again.’) Life changes too much for anything to be that definitive. You need to be flexible and go with the flow. You need to adapt to what life throws at you, and not stick with something just because you’re too stubborn to admit it might not be the best thing for you (or others) any more.
  • If you want to do something, just do it. You can do anything you set your mind to. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your situation is. Yes, there will always be obstacles, but think it through and you can get around them. And there will always be reasons not to do something, but if the good outweighs the bad, go with it. There were so many reasons NOT to go on this road trip. I’m so glad I made it happen anyway.
  • You can never have too many friends. If it weren’t for all my friends and family spread throughout the country, I couldn’t possibly have taken this trip. Thank you all – it was so good spending some time with you, although most visits were too short. Please know there’s always a bed for you in Massachusetts!
  • Your kids may leave home, but they always need you. I should’ve known that one – I always need my parents. Good thing I have four of them!
  • Life isn’t a fairy tale or a romantic comedy. Sure, if we’d yelled ‘cut’ on October 4 or 5, it would’ve had the perfect happy ending. They’re only classified romantic comedies because of when the movies end. If the cameras keep rolling after the dream kiss, reality sets in. Then they become dramas. Or tragedies.
  • Distraction can help you get over hurt, but it won’t cure it. Only time can do that. And with time comes clarity. The person you thought was Rhett may just be your Ashley.
  • Everyone has a story. And they are all fascinating. Ask questions. Get to really know someone. Even someone close to you, who you thought you knew. You may be surprised. It was wonderful exploring different places and taking pictures of everything from Mount Rushmore to the Pacific coast, but it was the conversations I had along the way that really made the trip.
  • Boston is where I want to be. At least for right now. I’ve spent too much time away from all my loved ones here. I need at least a few more years with them before I try living elsewhere again. And I love this city, from its sports teams to its history to its location on the coast.  
  • Everywhere is worth visiting. Depending on your time limitations and your interests, not everywhere is worth driving out of your way for (like the Mall of America for me), but every state has something special to see – even if it’s as simple as an old farmhouse or a Superman statue.
  • It’s nice to do some things alone, but sometimes it’s just more fun to have a partner in crime. I am very glad I took this trip by myself, but am also thankful for the times friends played tourist (or tour guide) with me.  
  • Route 66 is definitely worth its own, separate trip – just map it out first, because it’s not easy to follow. And it is easy to lose!
  • You can drive any distance if you have the right soundtrack! Good music – with a few good audio books thrown in – make time fly. And there is a song for everything. Especially country songs.
  • Think before you shut your car door. Especially if the only things around are cows. I’m just saying…
  • Plans were made to be broken. You can do your best to plan out a trip like this, but you have to be ready to take a detour every now and then, even if it puts you on a new route and disrupts your timetable. Otherwise you could miss out on some of the best parts. Remember the road less traveled…
  • 83 days is not long enough to see the entire country. I don’t know if you could ever see everything! There are so many places I missed or want to go back to because I simply didn’t have enough time. I don’t know how people make cross-country trips in a few weeks – how do you see anything??? I’m going to start making the list of places still to see on this site soon – Amy’s America will continue, just in small spurts from now on. I also plan to see more local sites. All suggestions welcome, as always. And I’ll be sure to write about it all here.

Thank you again, not only to everyone who hosted me or joined me for parts of the trip, but to everyone who joined my journey through this blog. Thank you for your travel tips, site suggestions, caring words and for taking time to read this. At many people’s suggestion, I’ve started writing the movie. Hopefully I can do this trip justice! Wish me luck…

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It is sooooooooo strange to be home. Well, not so much to be home, since I have been here every now and then during the last 83 days, but to drive home and know that I’m not leaving in the next day or two. Or 10 or 20. Weird. This is going to take some getting used to. But before I jump to the end of the trip, a bit about the last day…

My last night on the road was spent sleeping at my Aunt Robin’s in West Virginia, trying to cram into a few hours as much catching up with her, Isa and Tom, as possible. Going to bed I actually felt like the princess and the pea – the bed was so high, piled up and comfy. Robin’s done a nice job of cleaning up and decorating the house in her own way (which reminds me so much of my mother and my style). In the morning I had breakfast with Grandmama (my mom’s mom) and Ed – and then picked up the cat that I was driving north for my Aunt Kris. As I’ve mentioned, I wasn’t thrilled, but felt it was the right thing to do.

The cat wasn’t bad. It did cry the entire 10 hours (lots of traffic in Connecticut), but I just turned the music up and drowned it out. For those who don’t like country, you may accuse me of cat torture, but I can’t say I cared much. (Sorry.)

It was only a few minutes into the drive that I passed over the state line and into… Maryland. I’d actually forgotten about that state, even though there are several things I like there including the waterfront, antique shops and the Orioles’ stadium. I wasn’t there long, either, as I was soon driving over the Mason-Dixon line and into what I used to think of as the longest state in the world: Pennsylvania. It no longer seems that long, now that I’ve driven through some of the western states!

I would’ve taken a picture of the Mason-Dixon line sign, but it was pouring out. In fact, it was raining almost the entire drive. I passed many barns, trees, fields, animals, that I would have liked to photograph but the rain kept me in my car. Hmmm… am wondering if that was God’s way of protecting me from repeating yesterday’s mistake?

There were so many places I passed that I want to go back to – like  Mystic for its seaport, aquarium and pizza. It’s funny how as a teenager Connecticut seemed so far away, and now it seems like it’s just down the street.

It felt strange to drive into Rhode Island – to be so close to home. My Aunt Kris and cousin Ben met me at the mall so I could give them the cat. Can’t say I was sorry to hand it over. Nothing personal, but I have my own at home. I then went to the airport to pick my older brother, Steve, up. He’s flying in to attend our grandmother’s service. So technically he finished the road trip with me, since he was with me as I drove up to the house. (Which was rather nice because he helped me empty 83 days worth of stuff from my car, including Black Friday purchases.) I guess he was the stand-in for Aidan, since Aidan still won’t work. He just sat next to me completely blank. When I told Tina this, she wasn’t surprised and said that’s rather typical of some men.

It feels so weird to call this trip over. So I won’t – especially since it’s not the end. This is just an intermission for a bit more real life. There are so many things I didn’t get a chance to do:

  • Sleep in a haunted house.
  • Go to a rodeo. (Riding the mechanical bull doesn’t count.)
  • Shop on Rodeo Drive.

And so many places I had to skip, and people I still need to visit – especially those on the east coast.

For those wondering about this blog, this isn’t the last entry.  As long as there’s an Amy and an America to explore, there will be www.amysamerica.com. I actually started a list in the last few days of what I’ve learned on the trip. It’s not done, so I won’t share it yet, but will post it on here  in the next few days. After that, whenever I do travel again – especially those spring/summer weekend trips to make up the end of the official road trip – I will blog about it here.Who knows, I may do some local travel posts, too. Whenever I do blog, I’ll put it on Facebook as I do now, and if you don’t have Facebook, either sign up for the email reminders (on home page see top of column to the right) or just check back here every now and then… thank you very much for reading and taking this journey with me!

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