I’m feeling like I’ve got a little transcontinental whiplash. It was only weeks ago that I moved to Norway, and now I’m back in the U.S.
I returned largely to help my husband wrap up our lives in Portland, then we decided to take a cross country roadtrip to our beloved Chicago to visit family and friends. Plus, we’re finally and sadly getting rid of our Audi TT. Some of you remember how much I love Hubby’s Other Black Beauty.
She was too expensive to ship to Norway, but she’s going to an amazing home in Chicago. As a perfect adieu, we packed up the last of our Portland things in the TT and hit the open road. (FYI, we left the kids in Norway with Farmor. Yasss!)
Hubby and I are always stoked to be able to have an uninterrupted conversation. Now with 35 hours of just us in the two-seater, we were excited for the one-on-one time and, admittedly, scared. What if we got into a fight? That could make a for a seriously long haul.
We crossed our fingers and focused on the upcoming adventure: Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore and then Chicago.
A few hours outside of Portland, we grew tired and decided to stay the night in Pendleton. According to the billboards along the interstate, the best place in town was the Wildhorse Resort & Casino.
Whoo-weee. I don’t even know where to begin. The place was nice enough and it made for excellent people watching. Hubby and I aren’t big gamblers, not because we have anything against it, I’d just rather spend $20 on a pair of Payless Shoes that fall apart after one use than plunking $20 into a machine.
Anyway, it was a bustling, buzzing and beeping Saturday night at the casino. The place was packed with chain-smoking, leathery-faced grandmas, pot-bellied balding men who wobbled on stick legs and 20-something guys with trucker hats, tired eyes and semi-clothed girls draped on their arm.
All of that was fine, I’m sure I looked a fright after being on the road. What struck us is that everyone kind of looked… sad. There weren’t many smiles or kind eyes, just them searching for the right machine, or another drink or something else.
The next morning we headed down for breakfast and got to chat it up with some of the locals. The guy who made my omelet grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and then lived for 30 years in Portland. I also met a mom of four who was scurrying to get her crew waffles. She gave me the lowdown on the best buffet items since she and her family come there often.
We talked about our road trip and the recent move to Norway. It was neat because I felt like I’d known these people for ages, there was a folksiness that reminded me of my Kansas roots.
This is one of the great things about traveling by car, you get a chance to see a slice of life in communities and cultures that are different than your own. Plus if you look closely, you see that we’re really not that different after all.