Casseroles for Cancer Part II: To Travel Well, You Need Sparkle

Car, Dispatches from the Road, Group Travel, Spiritual Travel, United States, Volunteering & Giving Back — By on November 24, 2009 at 7:01 am

Last summer, Blair Hickman retraced a 12,000 mile cross-country road trip in memory of her mom, who died from cancer in 2003. The girls retraced a path their mom had taken in 1977, serving dinner at 9 Ronald McDonald Houses and raising money for the charity along the way to raise awareness about the importance of non-medical support for families living with cancer. They blogged and vlogged the whole way, raised over $7,000 for the charity and in the end, found a little more than they’d bargained for.

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By Blair Hickman
Special to Lost Girls World

I like the Container Store. I like shelves and drawer dividers and label makers, and if my time abroad in Prague taught me anything, it was that I hate living out of a backpack and spending more than 6 hours in a row with any single person. So was it a little stupid throw myself into a car with 2 other people and six weeks’ worth of stuff, including office supplies? Maybe.

From Chattanooga to Austin, we stayed in hotels and showered every day. We had to film the intro to our webisodes five times because I wanted to do it my way and turned into a bitch every time Stephanie, our resident film maker, told me that I needed more “sparkle.” My lack of personal space and inability to keep Stephanie from going to a bar and singing along with the pianist until 2 am caused daily nervous breakdowns.

And then we went to Western Texas.

I spent the first six hours in Western Texas thinking “I hate Western Texas.” The roads in this part of the country stretch on to nothing but sky, and every 30 minutes or so, you pass a cow or a house and wonder where, exactly, its food comes from. It’s the type of place that prompts comments like “I think this is a two-way road now; you might want to get in the other lane” and had me hoping I didn’t have to pee for the next 100 miles. I spent the majority of my time in the back seat, practicing breathing exercises and trying to ignore the fact that Stephanie had played the Taylor Swift CD three times in a row.

Ten hours into our drive, just before we hit our scheduled stop for the night, we passed the most American of American things: a drive-in! Despite growing up in the hills of Tennessee, I’ve never been and got a little too excited when I saw their double feature was “A Night at the Museum II” and “Up.”

We screwed the hotel and parked it on the hood of Black Betty under the stars. It had finally reached a cool 77 degrees, and we even had to grab a blanket from the car. “Perhaps the netherlands aren’t so bad,” I thought.

Around 1 am, we pulled into the first hotel in the first town we passed–Hobbs, New Mexico. The man who checked us in had a rattail and wasn’t wearing any shoes, and our rooms were so gross that I slept on top of the bed, woke up at 7 am and proclaimed that we were leaving. In our groggy state, we left our donated video camera in the parking lot. An hour and a half later, Steph realized the camera was missing. We sped back to the hotel, but when we got there, at 9:30 am, it was already gone.

“Oh, yep,” the police said as we filed our report, “You guys were on the bad side of town.”

“What’s the bad side of town? It only takes 5 mintues to drive through Hobbs.”
“The side with all the hotels.”

Steph and I got into a screaming match at a gas station just outside of Hobbs, and I left her in the parking lot in the middle of the desert. Kelsea took the wheel away from both of us, and I sat in the front, watching the desert fly by, with nothing but my thoughts and a handful of Spanish radio stations.

The nearest electronics store was 5 hours up the road in Santa Fe, and though I really just wanted to get the camera, Kelsea forced us to stop in Roswell. Her holy grail. It’s a funny little town that seems to operate solely off its legends, slapping the word UFO on every storefront and sticking alien heads on all of their light poles. We took 45 minutes to stroll through the UFO Museum and then went across the street for alien paraphernalia. Sifting through a rack of t-shirts, I found a hot pink Hanes tee with a black silk screen of an alien. He looked a little confused, standing over just 4 words:

It’s not my fault.

Our motto from the beginning of the trip. We cracked up and bought four of them, and then went next door and convinced a café owner to re-open just for five minutes so we could get some lattes. We went back to the car laughing so hard we were crying. And Stephanie got behind the wheel.

When we got to the Best Buy in Santa Fe, they gave us another camera and set us up in a hotel for free. We were in town for two nights, stayed in two separate hotels, and though we heard that Santa Fe had a million billion fun things to do, we can’t tell you one thing about the city except for the things we read on the Internet. We’d started to get kind of tired. Which was actually fine, because we also found that we had the best times in hotel rooms and/or in the car. We just cracked jokes and farted and ate and laughed and then farted some more because we were laughing.

After only one week, we had digressed to childhood, and we seemed to work best that way because when we went out in public, we just lost things and bitched at each other and got lost. So instead, we stayed in the car and drove through Starbucks. Steph and I were always on a mission. Grande soy skinny vanilla latte! Double double! Iced coffee, double Splenda! And then, Kelsea….”Uuuuummm….I think I’ll tryyyy….”

And for the first time, I started to get what traveling was really all about.


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    1 Comment

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