Texas has so far been much more interesting than any state I’ve driven through so far. But as I’m only in Fort Worth, that’s not saying much. I’ve driven in “West” Texas for about 30 minutes as of writing this!
We started off our day meeting someone doing the opposite of yesterday and today’s trip- a Miss Linda of Milton was going home from Dallas! She was quite friendly and wished me well on my travels. Catie was happy to get on the road and drive to Dallas. She did ask several times if we were in Dallas yet, but only when we were on a civilized stretch of road and, extremely coincidentally, right as we passed the “Dallas City Limits” sign. She was really excited to get into the city and get to the aquarium I told her about first thing this morning!
The Dallas World Aquarium was a big hit with Catie. It was like a really exciting maze where every turn had a new animal to see. A lot of them where pretty much out in the open, like the tortoises we saw just hanging out in a corner. There were also weaver bird nests hanging in all the trees, which I thought was super cool. Catie’s favorite part was the penguins we found that matched her early gift shop find. She carried that little plushie penguin around all afternoon and named it “Connie”.
We also visited the Perot Museum of Science and Nature, which wasn’t quite as exciting but DID have dinosaur bones! Catie loved the Tyrannosaurus Rex bones and was very curious about if the skeleton was actual size. She also liked the earthquake simulator until the “EXTREME” button was pushed. She jumped off almost immediately!
We managed to find some fun books in both the gift shops so that should make our drive through west Texas a little less boring for Catie, at least. I, on the other hand, will be relying on audio books and scenery to keep me sane.
Catie and I have arrived safely in Vicksburg, MS and checked into our hotel. Catie had never been in a hotel before so she’s really enjoying messing with all the settings on the air conditioner. I’m not sure the hotel folks will ever be able to get it back to standard settings; I certainly can’t.
We pulled out of the driveway at about 11am after a lot of tearful hugs and goodbyes. My car was packed to the brim- I hadn’t appreciated the extra space in my SUV until I was trying to squeeze just one more box into the second row of seating. Catie had to climb into her seat from the drivers seat over the center console! Luckily though, she’s surrounded by her toys and her activities so she should get too bored (*knocks on wood*). However, we hadn’t gotten out of downtown Pensacola before the first “Are we there yet?” was uttered, and pulling into the hotel elicited a “Is this Utah?”. I’m not sure I explained just how big this big trip would be… It might be hard to get her into the car again tomorrow.
Tomorrow, my daughter Catie and I will be taking the first steps on a five year journey; we’re moving 2000~ miles away from home so I can start my doctorate at Utah State University! Go Aggies!
With my detours and side-trips, it’s actually going to be about 2300 miles. We’re going to drive through Dallas to see an old friend; Cooperton, OK to see where my grandfather was born; Amarillo, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Gallup to follow Route 66; Moab to see Monument Valley and Arches National Park; and finally to our new home in Logan.
I’m pretty nervous about this trip, truth be told. I’m afraid I’m going to miss Pensacola. I lived in Orlando for a few years but that was only 600 or so miles from my hometown- close enough to drive back for Christmas. Moving across the country is a whole different ballgame. I’ve gotten pretty used to Pensacola’s quirks since moving back here in 2013. It’s strange to think about. No more Wings & Things (the family business and my employer for the last 3 years) to fall back on. No more Blue Angels buzzing my house every Sunday evening in the spring and summer. No more beaches, no more McGuires, no more family a stone’s throw away. Instead, I’m signing up for five years of small college town, snow, Mormons, and mountains. It’ll be interesting to see how well Catie and I both acclimate to the new culture. I hope Catie doesn’t miss our family and our old house too much. I’ve tried to prepare her as best as I can, talking about the dun we’re going to have on our “big trip”, trying to pick fun stops along our route for her like the Dallas Aquarium and the brontosaurus family outside Santa Fe. She’s excited, but it’s going to be a long time before she sees her favorite uncles, or her grandparents, or her mamaw (great-grandmother), or even her daddy. It’ll just be me and her and a whole pile of new people. That’s nerve-wracking for me now- it’s surely going to stressful for a sweet 3 year old who sees her grandparents and daddy almost every day.
On the other side of the nervousness coin, I’m getting restless. My hotels are all booked starting tomorrow night, but my car is as packed as its going to get NOW. As I wrote this, Catie’s toys are more or less packed up, so she’s getting into trouble trying to find things to do. My sister and her boyfriend are in my house painting and cleaning and getting ready to move in the moment I’ve moved out. I feel redundant. I want to get this new chapter of my life started but this one keeps dragging on. I’m ready to get into the mountains, to start studying my ass off and trying to learn to code in MATLAB and getting in over my head with Imposter Syndrome. I want to take this plunge. I’m ready.