One of my kids is riding his bicycle around the country to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking. He left 3 month ago and he has at least another month to go. Most days he has been alone on his bicycle. Many of those days he has ridden as much as 150 miles in the middle of nowhere with a loaded down bike, a cell phone and a GPS. He has depended on the hospitality of people he has never met before, mostly church folk, who have put him up in their homes or in a nearby motel and fed him a couple of meals. There is so much to this story… but this is about me.
At one point in his trip my husband and I met him. We all attended our denomination’s national convention. I normally go to this without my family. I see my friends. People know me for what I do. This time was different. I was my kid’s mom. “That kid (ok, he’s 26) who is hanging out in the exhibit hall, talking with people about his mission, yeah, I’m his mom.” That was a first, but not the only "first" on that trip.
After the convention my husband decided to ride for a week with our son. We brought a tandem which they took and it was my job to drive home from Kansas City, KS, to our home with the bike that my son had been using and would continue to use after the stint with his dad was done. The "first:" I had never traveled that distance alone by car before. My kid is riding his bike all over the country all by himself and I, in my mid-50s, had never driven 530 miles/9 hours alone in a car before.
I decided to split the trip up and maybe even do some sight-seeing along the way. When I woke up the morning that I was to leave, I looked at the weather map and realized that my original route was going to lead me through thunder and lightning storms. I don’t like lightning. And the idea of driving in the flat prairie lands with a lightning rod on the top of my car (ok it was a bike, but same difference when it comes to lightning) multiplied the stress that I was already experiencing with the milestone of my lonely road trip. I took a different route which brought me to St. Charles, the first capitol of Missouri, where I decided to stop for the night.
Being the end of June, there was still about 3 hours of light left in the day when I arrived at the motel-with-the-roof-of-a-certain-color. I checked in and went into my room to get settled and figure out what I wanted to do that night. It was too late to go shopping in the cute historic downtown by the river, but I thought I could go exploring and find some unique place to eat dinner before settling down for the night in my room. After looking at maps and brochures I figured out where to go and opened my motel room door to find three police cars with the corresponding number of police officers in the parking lot right outside of my door. Ok, I didn’t think to worry about something like this! I went back in my room and shut my door and took to spying out of my window. Eventually, having heard no screams or anything worse, and noting that the police officers nearest my room were not pulling out their guns, I decided to bravely work my way to my car. I got in and started my exploration. I drove around and found all the places that I wanted to check out the next day. Chickening out in regard to the unique place to eat dinner, I decided to go back to the room and eat the half sandwich left over from lunch, but first drove through Steak-n-Shake for a chocolate shake.
When I got to back to the motel I wondered about the bicycle securely attached to the top of my car. Would it be safe? After all, we had already had "police action" in broad daylight. Who knows what could happen in the middle of the night! Now, I was sure that I could not get that bike down by myself. I could go into the office and see if they would help me. But then I would need to find someone to help me put it back up on the car the next morning. I couldn’t find a place to park by my room. I finally decided to park in the spot right outside the office where the person working the desk could watch it out of their window. I went to my room, occasionally looking out my door, down the exterior hallway to my car. Yes, the bike was still there. Periodically during the night I prayed that the bike would be there the next morning. It was.
After a nice walk around the still closed historic downtown, I found some coffee and began the rest of my trip home. I learned all about President James Garfield thanks to be book on CD, and I made it home, all by myself, without incident. My daughter got the bike off the roof of the car without my help and I could chalk up another first in my life.