"BEGIN EPIC ROAD TRIP"

Today marks day 3 of 130. We spent the last two nights in Lawrence, Kansas. Tonight we will be staying in Overland Park, Kansas, and exploring Kansas City on foot before we head to St. Louis.

Let me take you back to our departure.

The final days before we left were crazy as usual. Allison’s birthday was on the 16th, and final errands and packing were still getting done up until 8 o’clock on the 17th. Our friends dropped by here and there to say goodbye, which was wonderful. Most of our stress was caused by deciding what to pack and not pack. Our dilemma was 4 ½ months in a variety of cities, climates, levels of formality, occasions, and comfort. The whole time we’ve prepared for this trip, we’ve assumed we’d take Monica’s car, a compact Honda Civic Hybrid. After we had everything packed, we weren’t sure we’d fit it all. We had in the forefront of our minds that we’d need to leave enough space for an extra person to fit in the car, as we’d made plans for our mom to drive with us from Cleveland, Mississippi to Montgomery, Alabama. The morning of the 18th, we continued with all the last minute organization and check lists. We didn’t leave until 12:20pm. We fit all our stuff in the car, but there was no way we’d fit another person and their luggage. Should we take Allison’s car? It’s a compact Buick Encore (SUV). We’d have to unpack the whole car that we had just packed and even then it might not save us any space. Plus, gas would cost more, we’d have limited miles (Allison is leasing this car), and in the end we may have to switch it all back anyway. We decide to worry about fitting our mom later. Monica is anxious to get on the road, and lots of daylight has been lost.

Immediately, as we pull out of our driveway, onto a street we know as home, a street we won’t be back on until August, we both are flooded with emotions and burst into spouts of laughter and tears. The whole situation seems ridiculous and hysterical. We’ve had 3 months to plan an almost 5 month trip. We’ve raised over $6,500, gotten sponsors, partnerships, places to say, camping gear, quit our jobs, been on TV and in the newspaper, and dealt with all the other stressors and uncertainties associated with the trip. It’s truly a whirlwind.

We put music on almost immediately. The drive doesn’t seem to take that long until it starts raining and eventually storming. We stop fairly frequently because we both have back issues and have been instructed to stop at least once an hour to walk around the car if not farther. We do this happily as we are both in pain. The drive is a familiar one. We’re headed to Kansas City and Lawrence, which is where Monica’s alma mater is located. We get into Kansas City and drive straight to Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ in a gas station. We wait an hour in line. By time we step in the door we’re salivating with anticipation. We’ve made friends with the guys behind us. They give us a list of places to go while in Austin. They are all in town for a convention and had eaten at Joe’s the day before. We dine with them. Though we’ve been very chatty for the past hour, the conversation stops at the table. The five us look from person to person as we eat our respective meals. Allison and I split a pulled pork sandwich with baked beans and ribs with fries. We are in food heaven. Everyone is licking their fingers and smiling. The people in line near our table are staring and salivating the way we were. They peer over to see who got what.

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We say goodbye to our friends and head to Lawrence, fully satiated and feeling like we started our trip the best way we possibly could have. Seeing exit 204 to Lawrence drives some nostalgic excitement. Monica hasn’t been back to KU since she graduated in 2012. Everything seems just how it was before. We get to Julie’s and are greeted by a beautiful, epileptic dog named Harper and a talkative Cat named Buttons. Julie, of course, greets us as well. It’s great to be back here. It’s been a long day and we relax a little before blowing up the air mattress and crashing on it. It still hasn’t hit us that we’re actually doing this.

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