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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Day 1 - Annapolis to Anchorage in an Accord (AAA)

Day 1 - Crofton, MD to Frankfort, KY

A filled-up gasoline tank with 149,300 miles on the odometer of our 2012 Honda Accord gave way to three travelers headed on Day 1 to Frankfort, Kentucky. We started the trek (left the driveway) at 8:14 am and arrived at our final destination (hotel) for the evening by 5:30 pm.

Before I tell a never expected story at our second rest stop, I have to say two things. First, no cornstalks were waving in the wind in either West Virginia or Kentucky. Yes, they are coal states, but not one row of corn was detected in all those miles. Second, we were very impressed with traveling over the many bridges in WVA that are ALL named for a fallen hero. The beautiful plaques commemorate either someone from the military or a police officer who died in the line of duty. Impressive!

As I write nowadays, I tend to look at life and adventure through a different lens. Perhaps a good story may fall out of something interesting, but I was not expecting an account on the first day out of the gate—at the first rest area in WVA.

This entire story happened in a quick potty stop, but it may seem like we were there for a half-hour, and I assure you this was not the case.

When I walked into the ladies’ room, a young girl in a pretty blue dress, about eight years old, was twirling around the entrance while, I assume, her mom was in a stall with another sibling. I heard the chatter but did not pay close attention. When I left my stall to wash my hands, another older woman in stark white slacks and a checked blue and white blouse with a sweater tied around her neck began talking with the 8-year-old girl.

The older woman asked the girl where she was from (WVA) and where they were going (Cincinnati). When the chatterbox lady saw me finish washing my hands, she asked if the young girl was my daughter, and I politely said, “no.” Off the cuff, and while I tried to leave the area quickly, I leaned over to tell the little girl that I was driving to Alaska. Her eyes got wide, and she had a huge smile. I’m not sure she knew what or where Alaska was, but she seemed excited for me. It was that kind of moment.

Chatty Kathy followed me to the rest area lobby to ask me where I lived. I answered, “Annapolis.” She said she detected an “accent” that supposedly I have and began guessing where I was born and raised; Detroit? Chicago? Buffalo? I sensed she was in the mood to talk to “strangers.” I finally blurted out, “Cleveland; I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio.”

As we continued our discussion while walking outside for me to catch up with my guys and for her to get back to her car, where she said her husband was sleeping, she mentioned that she had been in Leesburg, VA, for the past week to attend her youngest son’s wedding. They were traveling back to their home in Cincinnati, Ohio.

She then went into a detailed story about how her now-married son got denied to get into the Naval Academy and instead went to the U. of Virginia and still became a Navy pilot. She left me no room to respond as she was on to the next story about her grandfather building the Al-Can Highway after WW11. At this point, I wondered how her husband could stand to be in the car with her. He must not talk. At. All.

Before I practically ran to the car, I asked the woman her name. “Suzanne,” she replied. I told her mine and also said, “safe travels home.” When my hand was on the car door handle, she shouted out over the parking lot where would I be stopping next? I couldn’t respond, pretending I didn’t hear her and jumped into the passenger seat to get out of dodge.

I’m still shaking my head how this woman needed to be listened to with interest. She was nice and friendly, but today was not a day for me to build a new friendship. My two guys were waiting for me to get into the car so we could finish up the 250 more miles we had to go for the day.

When I looked back at her, she was sitting on a bench right outside the doors of the rest stop, enjoying the sunshine and probably waiting for her husband to finish his nap.

We never saw her at another rest stop today.




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