Here we are in front of the moving truck. A friend is driving it to Virginia for us, and we are traveling by car.
Pulling out of town for the last time was difficult, but not as hellacious as I thought it would be. I think that was in part due to the fact I decided to drive and let my husband take the passenger seat. I had this strong sense that if I was driving it would be more like leaving vs. being taken away. It’s the same reason I walked myself down the aisle (which was actually a dock) when I married my husband. It was my second marriage and I had a child. By that point, I was my own person. Nobody was giving me away. I was entering my new life on my own.
It’s sort of the same with this move. I am leaving the only home I have ever known for my husband’s home town. In some way I need to carry my own identity with me, and for whatever reason I thought being behind the wheel would help.
My heart hurt and heaved a little as I drove down the ramp to 94 East for the last time. And then it cleaved a bit when we crossed into Wisconsin about 20 minutes later. There were tears. But I was not a sobbing mess, which I think was due to the fact I had to concentrate on the road. That was another reason I wanted to drive.
So that’s the leaving. Now on to the eating. Not easy on a road trip when you have my diet restrictions. I am on the Paleo diet, as it is anti-inflammatory, which helps fight lyme induced inflammation. I am restricted by the diet, but I also have intolerances. As a result, my food life looks like this: no gluten, dairy, added sugar sugar, grains, garlic or onions.
Interestingly, my daughter has GI issues that are completely different from mine, however, she shares my main food intolerances: gluten, dairy, garlic, onions. And she mostly avoids sugar. (FYI, the garlic and onion and the hardest to deal with — everything else is pretty easy to work around).
Food intolerances aside, neither my daughter or I are willing to eat fast food, which isn’t really food as far as I am concerned. Our sensitive GI tracts are used to high quality, “clean” food, and we’d probably require medical assistance if we ate at Taco Bell. BTW, my husband can eat anything and feel fine, so he balances us out.
Since I’m on a liquid diet for every meal except dinner, I only need to figure out one meal per day. But my daughter eats real food all day long, so we had to figure out a plan for her. We brought instant oatmeal cups for her breakfast.
My plan for lunch and dinner was to stop at Whole Foods. My thought was that even if we passed a Whole Foods at a non-meal time, we would just pick up stuff for lunch and dinner that day and keep it in the cooler until it was time to eat.
Well, that plan fell apart, as we never passed a Whole Foods that was even remotely close to our path, and we did not want to waste time veering off course.
Enter plan B.
The first night, we managed to track down a grocery co-op in a little town called Stoughton, Wisconsin. Honestly, it was pretty slim pickings, but we made it work. My husband found prepared food (remember he can eat anything), but none of the prepared options would work for my daughter or I. So, I went into assembly mode. I picked up some lettuce, tomatoes, an organic avocado, raw, organic goat cheese (we can do goat dairy), and Applegate all natural deli turkey (technically not on my diet, as it’s processed, but desperate times…..).
Here I am cutting the avocado with a plastic knife while I assemble my salad. You can see my daughter’s meal in the bottom right. We had gluten free bread in the car, so she grabbed that, and I made her a sandwich version of my salad. You can see the fixings gathered around my salad container — the meat, cheese and lettuce. Doesn’t everyone buy a head of lettuce on a road trip?
(FYI, never mind the plywood. Apparently a truck drove through the window of the co-op).
Here is my salad. Not the most beautiful thing I ever made, but it was good in a pinch.
We finished our meal with organic raspberries and a spot of dark chocolate. I can usually tolerate a square, and it’s a nice treat.
So day one went pretty well on the food front.
Day two was more of a challenge. Once again, no Whole Foods within reasonable proximity.
At lunch time fast food was literally the only option, so we went to Taco Bell… for my husband. I had my protein shake, and I assembled lunch for my daughter from food we were carrying with us. I had packed a loaf of gluten free bread and a jar of organic SunButter in the event this very situation arose. She rounded out her meal with grapes and baby carrots I had packed in the cooler.
So picture this scene at a Taco Bell somewhere along the side of a highway. There is a man eating a burrito. There is a woman sipping from a thermal cup. Spread on the table are the following: a loaf of bread, a jar of SunButter, a bag of grapes, a bag of carrots. The woman makes a sandwich for the teenager sitting across from her. The man eats the burrito. The woman continues to sip, and the teenager eats the sandwich, fruit and carrots.
Just another day in our life. I don’t even get self-conscious about that stuff anymore. It’s just how we roll.
Which brings us to dinner. A complete disaster. Again, no Whole Foods. Nothing viable. We were in Charleston, West Virginia around dinner time, and I had located a farmer’s market that also had prepared food. It seemed like it would be a home run, but everything was closing up about the time we arrived.
Then I Googled “organic restaurant near me” and something came up that looked promising. We pulled up, and it was in a mostly boarded up neighborhood and did not seem to be open. Strike two. Third option — a grocery store. I thought we could get salad fixings and a cooked deli chicken we could pull apart with our hands. Kroger is the local brand, so I entered the nearest Kroger into the GPS, and we were brought to……the side of a river. No Kroger. No nothing. Crap.
By this point, we had wasted about an hour and we still had three hours to drive and just wanted to get on with it. So, we pulled out of Charleston and hoped for something better down the road. There was not much, so we decided my daughter and I would cobble something together from the food we had on hand, and my husband would eat whatever fast food he wanted.
Then I saw a sign for Wendy’s, and a memory from way back came to the surface. Wendy’s has baked potatoes. Technically, white potatoes are not Paleo, but we had to get real here. So, we stopped at Wendy’s. I gathered random things from the cooler — the rest of the avocado from the night before, the goat cheese, the carrots, the lettuce. My daughter and I ordered the plain baked potatoes, and I made myself a side salad with the lettuce, avocado and cheese. My daughter added the cheese to her potato and supplemented with baby carrots.
Before we ate, I said “let’s say a quick prayer over this lovely meal”. Without missing a beat my daughter added “and let’s hope it doesn’t kill us”. I laughed right out loud. It was the first time I’d been in a Wendy’s since I don’t know when, but it was fun and funny. Geezzz..
This morning, we are just three hours from our new home and food will not be an issue. I know for a fact there is a Whole Foods on the way, and we will definitely be loading up.
This might seem like a lot of work, and maybe even a little crazy. And if you think that, consider yourself lucky, because it means you’ve never had serious GI issues. Look, I can barely eat. Just one meal per day. And I if I don’t take care with that meal, I will feel very crappy. Not just for a few hours. But for a few days.
I didn’t enjoy the stress and hassle of the food gymnastics. But my daughter and I feel as well as we possibly can given the circumstances, and that is no small feat. We spent a lot of time talking about how “normal” people would take a road trip vs. how we take one. It wasn’t a sad or remorseful conversation. More wistful. We are both pretty accepting of our digestive situations.
And truly, there are so many people out there with much bigger problems. Everyone has their cross to bear, and this is mine. All things considered, it’s pretty manageable, and I can’t complain. I really can’t. It could be so much worse.