Old age is a gift not given to everyone, and I am thankful to be experiencing it. It is a different phase of one’s life than the others, and it is interesting to me to see what those differences are. Both Andrea and I are retired and have more freedom to travel. But our increasing limitations make us wonder each time if this will be our last one. And with our advancing age comes more frequent visits to doctors and other health professionals. The visits come at irregular intervals, and sometimes it can be difficult to find a window in our schedule that is wide enough to take a road trip.
(My cardiologist’s office left a message to remind me of my annual checkup. When I called to make an appointment, she said the next available one was three months from now. To me, those appointments once made cannot be moved just because they might become inconvenient.)
But we ended up with a window of opportunity, and I began planning a trip to see Andrea’s brother in eastern Idaho. At our usual rate of travel, we could get there in three days. Three days out, one day there, three days home equals seven days. But that seems like work. We don’t like coming home the same way we go out, and it would be good to see something different than the road we’ve driven many times before. If we are going to go, perhaps we should go see a few other things to make the getting there and the getting home more interesting. And so it grew.
Then an opportunity opened for us to meet someone we really wanted to see, but she’s in Palm Springs. And if we delay meeting her now, it might complicate a future trip. Or the opportunity might be lost. So now we’re going from Portland to eastern Idaho by way of Palm Springs. It will fit nicely into this window we have between our other obligations.
Generally I avoid traveling on holiday weekends. I really dislike fighting the traffic. I remember times when I was a kid and we would be coming back from a weekend of tent camping and we’d get stuck in traffic. A two-hour return home would stretch to four hours, or longer. It was awful – and I wasn’t even the driver. But in the present time, we wouldn’t be able to fit both Palm Springs and Idaho into the available window of days if we didn’t include Memorial Day Weekend. Yikes! I did not look forward to driving the length of California on a holiday weekend.
Then, when I tried making a reservation at the only place we like to stay that is the right distance from home for us to make it to Palm Springs in the time allotted they were already sold out. My anxiety level bumped up a notch. We decided to leave half a day early – midday Friday after a Friday morning obligation – which would make the resulting days easier and put us each night at a place that still had rooms available.
Another reason to be anxious about traveling on a holiday weekend is refueling. There are more than 145,000 gas stations in the US, but there are only about 1,100 Tesla charging stations. There are, of course, far more gas-powered cars than Teslas, and there are other kinds of charging stations. But the Tesla chargers are fast, so we like to go to those. Usually it is not a problem, but during high-usage times (like a holiday weekend) and in high-usage areas (like California), the charging stations fill up and one has to wait one’s turn. I decided we’d do what I did when I rode my motorcycle up the Alaskan Highway through Canada, where the gas stations are few and far between – we’d stop at the one before the one we would need. That way we could make it to the next if this one was too crowded.
Or was I overthinking all this?
So off we went.
Traffic was no worse than on a usual Friday afternoon. Our first stop was a charging station that had been under construction but looked like it was getting close to being ready. It wasn’t on the navigation system yet, but we could stop and see what it looked like. And the next one was only 12 miles farther. As it turned out, the new one had opened that morning and for a while we were the only ones there. It was a good omen.
Saturday we set off again, earlier than we usually can manage but we were ready. Soon we hit rain on and off, but traffic was OK, even a little lighter than it often is through that section. We finished up at another new charging station. It was pretty full, but there was always at least one charger open as we watched cars come and go.
So tonight we’re hopeful. Tomorrow we head past Sacramento and Stockton, where it seems that even on good days the traffic is awful. But this seems a charmed trip so far. Keep your fingers crossed.