I do not do car trips. Period. I grew up flying everywhere and it’s always been my preference. Once I moved to the Midwest I did take a few long car tips to go skiing but that’s about it.
And then my son decided to go to college 700 miles away. We had to drive him there. Ten hours. That trip was bittersweet. I knew that once we got there I’d be leaving my boy behind but until then I had a captive audience for ten hours of conversation and I have to admit that I loved that time with him.
Recently I made that dreaded trip again. I missed my son, hadn’t hugged him in 52 days (but who’s counting, right?). He had a few days off from school and Hubs could easily be convinced to take a few days off from work. The problem was that we had to drive and this time we’d be driving two cars up there.
PurDude left his car at home. Initially freshmen couldn’t have parking spots and we didn’t think he’d need it. Turns out he felt that he did need it, entered a lottery (for what was left after all the upper classmen had been assigned spots) to be able to purchase a spot in a parking garage next door to his dorm and damn if he didn’t win it. So I agreed to drive his car up to him.
We put his Purdue license plate holders on for him!
The trip was so boring. Ten hours of cornfields to the sides of me and Hubs’ car in front. The most interesting part was crossing the Mississippi. So basically 3 interesting seconds and 9 hours 59 minutes and 57 seconds of boring (but who’s counting, right?).
crossing the Mississippi
I’m going to admit right here and now that the hugs at the end of this trip were well worth the drive. So were the two days we spent at the school meeting my son’s new friends, attending a football game, taking some of his closest friends to dinner, shipping and just enjoying seeing the atmosphere in which my son is thriving.
I offered to take PurDude home but he declined. I threatened to lock him in the trunk and kidnap him but he’s way bigger than me. I even selflessly said that I’d get an apartment in West Lafayette and stay nearby but I lost that one too. We headed home.
Hubs likes to listen to talk radio, mostly sports, and I couldn’t really change the station because where we were for most of the trip there apparently only was one. As we went from small town to small town, I was subjected to what I can only refer to as torture. I listened to the score of every single high school football game in a 700 mile radius. I know the closing price of corn, soy, cattle and wheat. By month.
My mind started to wander. I’m convinced this was a form of self protection as, by the time we got to the Mississippi on the way home I was seriously thinking of jumping from the bridge.
So I started reading signs. I have to tell you, this was way more amusing than I would have thought. I gave some thought to who might attend the “Cowboy Ho Church”. Would that be for a Ho? Or a cowboy? Or cowboys who support a Ho?
I passed a town called “What Cheer” and still can’t figure out who named that and why. Is this some kind of penal colony? A place to send cheerleaders who’ve forgotten which cheer they’re supposed to be doing?
I knew I must have been getting hungry when I passed a sign stating that “Mashmallowtown” was ahead. I have no idea how much time and effort I gave to working out a reason for naming a town after marshmallows, right up until we got to the exit and I realized I had misread “Marshalltown”.
The trip got a little interesting when we missed veering off onto the correct highway. The angry GPS (jeez, do not make a wrong turn while using this system, she all but swore at us) had us get off on the next exit and drive through a part of Chicago I’m pretty sue I didn’t want to be in. We passed a run down hair place called “Cut Your Head”. On the next street corned was what I thought was an “adults only” shop, the “Slop and Lick”. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a restaurant. Yup, get me outa here.
Back on course and driving through miles and miles of nothing when what do I see on a van that just passed us? I know you can’t read this, it’s hard to take a picture of a car that’s moving while you’re in a moving car but this bumper sticker was, without a doubt, prophetic: “YOU ARE NOWHERE!”.
I knew we were getting close to where we live when I was finally able to find something other than hog prices on the radio. I found a station with “music from the days when electric cars were called golf carts.” Perfect.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve never adjusted well to living in the Midwest. But let me tell you that I’ve never been so excited to hit the state line in my life.
Back to baking and cooking . . .
. . . and missing my boy.
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded or chopped
2 TBSP butter
½ of an onion, sliced
¼ of a red pepper, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
½ TBSP butter
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan
*Melt 2 TBSP butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and red pepper. Cook until soft. Add the spinach and cook one more minute. Remove from heat.
*In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Mix in the milk and egg, just until barely incorporated. Add the onion mixture and cheese mixing as little as possible.
*Spread into the greased pan. Bake approximately 40 minutes or until the center springs back to the touch.
*With a knife, move the remaining ½ TBSP butter over the top of the loaf, letting it melt into the loaf. Allow to sit 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan.
*Cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm.