June 24, 2011

I've been on the road for the past two weeks, and I don't mind telling you I'm exhausted. It's been physically and emotionally draining, but it's also been physically and emotionally stimulating.

My daughter made this cross-country trip so she could attend the wedding of a brother she's never met and, at the same time, reunite with her biological father whom she hasn't seen since she was 2 years old. Since her husband is deployed and she didn't want to make the trip alone, I agreed to come along as moral support.

Our original plans were to take the train -- a plan that would have allowed me time to work while my grandkids slept. We agreed that, when possible, I'd move into the quiet car and write, and when that wasn't possible, I'd re-read the manuscript I just turned in to see if I could find any plot holes I'd previously missed. It was a perfect plan.

Two days before we were supposed to drive to New Orleans to board the train, we got a phone call -- at 10:30 at night, no less -- telling us the trip was off because the tracks were flooded. We scrambled, searching for flights (WAY too expensive), other routes on the train (no such thing. You can't get from east to west without going through Chicago and that, apparently, is where the trouble was). About one in the morning, we finally decided to throw everything into suitcases and take a road trip -- but to get here on time we had to leave two days ahead of schedule.

It's been a great journey so far. We got to spend the night with my daughter's in-laws on the way, took the grandkids swimming in the hotels where we stayed, hung out at Graceland for a few hours, and watched the country change with every passing mile.

We've reconnected with friends and family that we left in Utah when we moved. We've eaten in most of our favorite restaurants -- places that don't exist in Florida. And we've connected with family I knew in the past, but my daughter has only heard about until now.

Our time here is winding down. We have a few more dinners with friends, a few more family get-togethers to attend, and then it will be time to hit the road again.

It's been a rare experience for both of us. My daughter has been introduced to a whole new family and I've shared meals and laughter with people I never thought I'd see again. It's been kind of experience books are made of.

Maybe. Some day. When the dust has had time to settle.