If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know I write each year about something called a “SibSab,” an abbreviation for a sibling sabbatical. On these SibSabs, just the four of us (my two older sisters and my younger brother) travel somewhere where we spend some time together, reminiscing about memories we each have growing up, and enjoying some fun adventure together. Our last one in 2019 was a biggie when the four of us went to Disney World together. We had plans for another SibSab last year but as with so many things during the pandemic, it did not occur.
While we did not have our dedicated time together in SibSab 2020, an unexpected positive outcome of the pandemic was we actually stayed much more in touch with each other through Zoom calls every few weeks.
On one of these calls this year, our brother told us about a new bike he was getting. We talked about what fun it would be for all of us to get to ride bikes together sometime and my brother threw out the idea of him driving down from Philadelphia to Northwest Arkansas where our two sisters lived. Then I could drive over from Memphis with my bike, and we’d all be together.
We explored our calendars and figured out the last weekend in June would work for all of us.
Meanwhile, ever since the pandemic began, my wife (affectionally known by her grandmother’s name, Mimi) had been wanting to take our in-town 6-year-old granddaughter on an overnight trip. She occasionally spends the night with us and loves to swim in our pool.
Mimi explored several different options without success but once my siblings had our plans in place, I suggested she and our granddaughter come over as well. This would also allow our granddaughter to get to see two of her cousins for the first time in almost two years. My wife readily agreed.
Friday morning, we packed up the car and loaded my bike onto the bike rack. We purchased this bike rack when we bought the car and had used it around town but had never taken it out on the highway before. However, our main concern for the approximately 6-hour trip over was not how the bike would do but rather how long it might take to get across the Mississippi River. Back in early May, a structural crack was discovered in a steel support beam that forced the closure of the I-40 bridge. Repairs were not expected to be completed until the end of July. With the 6-lane I-40 bridge across the river now closed indefinitely, we had heard horror stories of it taking up to four hours to cross the 4-lane I-55 bridge.
As it turned out, getting across, while slower than normal, still was not unbearable. But two other unexpected events did impact our trip. When we made our first bathroom stop, I noticed the bracket holding the rear bike frame had slid forward on the carrier bar. I tried pushing it back but to no avail. Figuring it wasn’t going to move anymore, we got back on the road. But knowing it had moved, I began to watch it in the rear-view mirror and could occasionally see the wind buffeting the rear bike tire that stuck out beyond the side of the car.
After we had driven a bit further, I noticed the bike had in fact moved forward even more. Envisioning my bike coming completely off the carrier and being run over by an 18-wheeler, I pulled over. This time I was able to push the bracket back in place and then secured the bike around the up-right carrier post with a cinch bicycle lock which kept it in place for the rest of the trip.
The other incident was when we encountered construction delays towards the end of our trip. With traffic backed up for miles and facing a significant delay, I looked up to discover that we were right near the exit for the Pig Trail, a fun, curvy scenic road I had been meaning to drive on but had not so far on any of my trips to visit my sisters. Once we arrived at the beginning of the trail and I saw the sign that the next 3 miles were “Very Crooked and Steep,” I knew I was in for a treat.
Unfortunately, as often happens on these occasions, I was stuck behind two slow cars spoiling some of my pleasure in driving the road.
The detour, while fun, unfortunately added some time to our trip as the two-lane roads back to the interstate never seemed to end. But our granddaughter was very patient and when we reached our final destination, she was ready to bound out of the car and check into the hotel with her brand-new luggage.
After unloading our things, we were off to her cousin’s house where play commenced almost immediately. After being cooped up in the car all day, I am sure it felt good for our granddaughter to run around kicking and tossing balls with her cousins…
… followed by a breezy ride on a really cool tree swing.
Sadly, rain hampered the planned cousin activities over the next two days but between rainstorms, time was still found for splashing in a wading pool, running, swinging, and launching a stomp rocket, a very popular toy for all three kids (and occasionally an adult too).
The final cousin outing was on Sunday afternoon at a nearby park where after swinging and sliding, the three placed a lunch order at an imaginary restaurant.
On Monday morning, Mimi left to drive our granddaughter back home on what thankfully, turned out for her to be an uneventful trip home. I stayed on for our planned SibSab.
To be continued…