Yesterday I made the pilgrimage to Ashland and back to see my Dad and stepmom for the first time in five months. I’ve seen them twice in the past year, both times only through windows and after a 30 hour cross-country drive. This time I only had to drive three hours from Louisville and, thanks to mRNA technology, we got to be together. It was great.

We shared a meal at a restaurant (responsibly, we’re all fully vaxxed) and took a drive around town. We ran errands, getting stamps for Dad and a new phone charger for Phyllis (well, I ran errands – they stayed in the car). We took a drive and got to see all the beautiful early spring blooms around eastern KY – the groves of white flowering pear trees, the bright yellow forsythia, the deep purplish-red redbud blooms, the giant pink and white magnolias, and the pink weeping cherry blossoms. The dogwood will bloom next, adding more white and pink to the woodland palette. With no leaves on the trees, this early spring bloom is always spectacular, and this year takes on a special significance for me. Rebirth, restart, a second chance – after the apocalyptic shitshow of 2020, everything in 2021 seems better.

Other observations from the trip…the February winter ice storm that hit eastern KY must have been awful. Some areas look like a tornado hit them – hundreds of downed and broken trees. I kept thinking I was seeing white birds in the treetops, maybe egrets or an eagle, but it was just the white splintered ends of broken treetops. Here’s a link to a drone video that shows how bad it was. It was never covered on the national news, but should have been.

My rental car, a weird little Nissan Kicks (?!), came equipped with Sirius XM and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it again. I had it on past BMWs but not the current one. Sirius XM made my first cross country drive a lot more fun, and the same thing happened yesterday. From Classic Rewind to The Spectrum, it was like an old friend revisited. And now I know that today is Eric Clapton’s 76th birthday, and that he’s the only three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Go Eric!

And, I got to drive back and spend another evening with the grandkids. I helped Hudson get over a terrible threes anger-fit, and got to laugh at Jesse drooling as he demanded to be fed cheerios and fruit by hand. Jabba the Kid, that one is. All in all, a good day as a pilgrimage should be.