This weekend I took my first vacation from the newspaper and traveled back to Tyler, Texas, with my girlfiend Pam to visit my college professors, coworkers, teammates and friends before graduation.
We left late Thursday night and made our first pit stop just south of Kansas City. I set the alarm for the early morning so we could get a jump on the eight-hour drive ahead.
In my rush to get on the road, I left Pam’s pillow behind, making it the first casualty of our weekend trip. I also spilled my coffee on the way to the gas station, but it was much easier to replace on the go.
We also forgot to charge Pam’s iPod the night before, so our tunes were limited to channel scanning the whole way south. After hearing Luke Bryan’s new single “Play it Again” about a dozen times, Pam turned off the radio in frustration.
My attempt to slowly convert her to a country music listener became the second casualty of the trip.
Tyler, Texas, is known as the rose capitol of the world and this time of year the thousands of rose bushes are exploding with color. We toured the Tyler Rose Garden and enjoyed the North Carolina Tarheel blue sky and perfect late spring temperature.
Saturday morning I forced myself out of bed to go on a long run with some of my former teammates and coaches Bob Hepler and RJ Cowan. We ran the same route I did almost every weekend of my college running career.
The only difference was my endurance level is well below par compared to a couple years ago, so the 13-mile jog made my legs the third casualty of the trip.
Luckily, my friends and I made a stop by the pool to help relieve my aching muscles.
Saturday went by in a blur. I did get to grab food at some of my favorite restaurants in town and my friends made sure I was constantly supplied with the sweetest sweet tea in town from McAlister’s.
By Sunday I was exhausted, but up again early to talk newspapers with my adviser at the Patriot Talon, Kevin Dilley. The year I went back to work for the student publication revitalized my passion for journalism.
He gave me lots of insight to these first couple years of my career and listened as I vented about life over omelets and coffee.
I had to get Pam back for school on Monday morning so she could direct her concert band, so we loaded up the car after breakfast and hit the road.
We set our course back to our first motel in hopes of getting Pam’s pillow back, but our navigation device had other plans. We took the scenic roads of Arkansas — which were very beautiful — but not ideal for trying to hurry home.
The navigation device was replaced by our iPhones and it went back into the glove box, making it the final casualty of our trip.
We finally made it home after midnight, Pam’s pillow in hand and a weekend of new memories with old friends in mind.
I hope they all know how much I appreciate them staying in touch and can’t wait to see them and the lone star state again soon, although I’ll probably fly next time.