I have never been much for road tripping, but this year I have managed to do 3 road trips; one in California, to Alabama, and back home to Pendleton, Indiana. Every trip leads you to a different adventure. Each one has been quite memorable and left me with pleasant experiences. But this weekend was something special.
This year I have made a point to photograph every race I have done (except for Wildflower), no matter how big or small they were. In the past as I traveled throughout the country to race I always walked away wishing I had brought my camera; so this was the year I committed to bringing my camera everywhere. The result – many wonderful memories caught on camera.
Traveling with three bikes and three girls + luggage requires a good sized vehicle. As I scrolled through my options on Orbitz to make a reservation, I soon started to realize that a minivan was our best option. Oh god…I am 32 with no kids and will be driving a minivan on this trip. I will admit as I pulled the car out the the rental station, I was embarrassed. That feeling quickly went away once I got home and started folding the seats into the floor and rolled my bike in the back all in one piece…that’s right, ONE PIECE! It was unbelievable. I can not begin to express my excitement as I made my way house to house picking up girls, bikes and luggage while still having plenty of room for another bike and body. Now is the time to admit; I am in love with the Town and Country minivan. It is not just for mom’s anymore.
With our music and conversation list, we were onward to Pendleton, Indiana, where I had grown up. We had made arrangements to stay with my family, in the house I once lived. As soon as we got to my parents house we unloaded our bikes and set out on a fun ride throughout the Midwest countryside that I once rode my banana seat bike with streamers; where the hills were once three times bigger and the trees were half the size 20 years ago. And of course, I brought my camera. We took pictures as we rode along the country roads, laughing and giggling along the way I like I once did as a kid; carefree and and not a worry in the world. A trip down memory lane, and I got to share it with two of my dearest friends.
When we made it back to the house, my parents had made us a spaghetti dinner, just like they used to when I was a kid. Stepping back in time, it was like nothing had ever changed expect for cups of milk was substituted with glasses of vino. Laughing and chaos at all times around the table, Dad making jokes and Mom running around the kitchen, sharing the biggest news of the day. As a kid, it was an experience I didn’t share with many. But this day I could not have been more happy to have my two friends there and catch a glimpse of the world that has helped make me who I am today.
And what made the trip even better was to have not only my parents there, but my brother and his family came and my little niece was there as well. It was a normal Barnhart household, like back in the day. It was great. As we settled in for the evening, sitting in the living room playing with the kids and carrying on the laughter, I started to feel a new appreciation for my Biological Family I had never felt before and how lucky I am to get to share them with my two girls who are part of my Chosen Chicago Family.
At the race the next day, my family came to watch my girlfriend’s race and cheer them on to their victories. Deep down, I hope they enjoyed them being there as much as I did. My brother brought his RV and just had a fun time…like old times.
As the race came to an end and we hit the road in our minivan back to Chicago, I started to think about how I should do more races in Indiana so the family can get together and have more good times like this. One thought leading into another…I guess I don’t always have to travel half way around the world to find a great place to race. Some of the best times, best memories to be made, best trips are just outside of your old back door.