On The Road Again

by Kee Kee on July 25, 2015

in Oklahoma,Texas,Yoda

Yoda & Kee in CarWorking as a filmmaker and writer, and having insatiable wanderlust, I’m pretty blessed that I am able to work from anywhere. There is no better way to escape the Texas August triple digits than to work from my parents’ rural Wisconsin lake house. This will be the fifth consecutive summer that I’ve managed to pull this off.

At first light this morning, Yoda and I piled into Princess Leia the Prius to start our cross country road trip. We both love the open road, and for the first hour Yoda sat on his bed in the back and stared out the windows. Unfortunately, the first hour was about all either of us enjoyed today. I had a wonderful lazy scenic road trip planned through Louisiana and Arkansas. Yet with weather warnings of heat index values reaching 110 in the south this weekend, I decided yesterday afternoon to abort that itinerary and instead just head straight north. When it gets this hot, it’s next to impossible to keep the back of the car cool, even with window shades and a battery operated fan that I’ve rigged up for Yoda. So my plan is to leave every morning by 7am and drive on the Interstate until no later than 2pm. This isn’t how I like to road trip. I prefer to take my time driving on country roads and state highways. Those are the places where you are more apt to experience the heartbeat of the towns you pass through.

Instead, we found ourselves in bottleneck traffic for hours today due to construction on I-35 from Austin to Fort Worth. Given the scorching temperatures, my bathroom breaks involved me sprinting from and back to the car because it heats up so quickly, leaving Yoda panting miserably as he waits for me to get back. The temperature also is preventing anything resembling a dog walk. Yoda gets it. He does his business immediately and then bolts right back to the car.

So now I sit in our Oklahoma hotel room trying to entertain Yoda with his rope toy and contemplating what I should do for dinner. Instead of finding a cute restaurant with a dog-friendly outdoor patio, I’ll likely just grab an avocado salad from Subway to eat in my air-conditioned room. I try to avoid fast food at all costs, and Subway is sadly the only somewhat-healthy option nearby.

All this said, I’ve spent enough time on the road over the past five years to know that some days are better than others. Just like with life, tomorrow is another day. I can’t wait to see what adventures the road brings tomorrow, Interstate and all…

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Happiness Graffit

One thing I’ve learned over the past five years with my Seeking Shama journey is that the absolute best way to kick start the flow of my life and keep things fresh is to step outside of the box. When I start to feel blue, it’s usually because I’m stuck in a rut and have let life become stagnant and stale with routine. That’s when I know I need to shake things up. My favorite way of doing that is road tripping with Yoda. Without fail, we meet people and have unexpected adventures that breath new life into my veins. Yet it’s not always convenient to pack up the car and hit the road. So what to do when daily obligations have me tethered to home? A 9-year-old boy gave me the solution yesterday with Jack Day.

chosen ideasMy friend Karen’s husband and youngest son are out of town this weekend. So she and her oldest son Jack invited me to have a Jack Day with them yesterday, a day that was to be all about having fun with Jack. We met for breakfast and each wrote three ideas for an activity on Post-it Notes. Then we drew one of each of our ideas out of a hat and proceeded to spend the next eight hours doing them.

laser tag

First up, laser tag at Blazer Tag, the largest laser tag arena in Texas (guess whose idea this one was?). Trust me, this is something Karen and I would never have chosen to do on our own. We were the oldest people in the arena, and not surprisingly, we came in last place. In fact, at one point we were both doing so poorly that we stood next to each other and took turns shooting the other so we could wrack up some points.

Cave

 

Next up was Karen’s idea of visiting Inner Space Cavern. This extraordinary cave system is estimated to be 90-100 million years old, and skeletons of prehistoric Ice-Age animals have even been found there. After an hour tour, we bought Jack a cherry ICEE and piled back into the car to head to our final activity for the day.

First up, we stopped at Lowes and bought three cans of spray paint: orange, purple and green. Then we drove to Austin’s Baylor Street Art Wall, a graffiti park at an abandoned construction site that is open to the public. With all the rain we’ve had recently in Central Texas, the place was a bit of a mud pit. But that didn’t stop the throngs of spirited people armed with cans of paint.

art wall

Jack and I painted matching peace signs, and then the three of us took off in opposite directions to hike and climb around the mammoth park to experience on our own all the different layers of graffiti. This outdoor art park is the kind of place that captures the unique, creative, free-spirited part of Austin that I fell in love with when I first moved here four years ago. Eventually, the rain got the best of us and we decided to call it a day.

peace signs

By that point, I felt every bit my age. I was so exhausted from our eight hours together that I was actually sound asleep by 9pm last night. But when I woke up this morning, I must say, I feel lighter, happier, and less stuck in my rut. The flow in my life has started again, all thanks to a 9-year-old. One of the bits of graffiti from yesterday that spoke to me the most about keeping life fresh was where someone painted “HAPINESS [sic] IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT…” How true that is.

Quite possibly the secret to ongoing happiness is to shake up my normal routine and have a Jack Day more often.

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