Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New to Me: Rod's Routes

Yesterday I was blessed with the unexpected announcement that  we were getting out of nursing school early for the day and that the instructor was cancelling our session for the next day.  I was suddenly presented with 1 1/2 days with NOTHING to do.  Sure there is always housework, laundry, homework, blah blah blah, but no school or work for 2 days?  Whatever would I do?  

I went home and immediately got on the computer and started to check the scheduling program to see if there was a shift I could work.  It was almost like I was on auto-pilot.   At the same time, I was talking to my friend Chris and telling her I was looking for an open shift and she said "You know, you could just take a day off."  A day off?  What would I do with a whole day off?

About that same time my computer sent me a calendar alert that just said "May 1.  Dad"  I was immediately deflated.  It's always in the back of my mind that my father, Rod,  died six years ago on May 1st but this year it struck me differently for some reason.  

My Dad and I

I have never focused on the anniversary of my father's passing because, to sound totally cliche, he really is in a better place.  He had a long struggle with diabetes and renal dialysis and we were lucky that his passing was quick and painless.  I miss him dearly but I don't miss what the future was to hold for him.  

Maybe I was subconsciously trying to work so I would be too busy to think about May 1st but once I realized that his passing coincided with my day off I decided there would be no work for me.  

But what to do, what to do?  I called my friend Margarito and arranged to meet him at my favorite lunch spot.  After some Zentangle, a little paper crafting and a bit of guilty pleasure television I jumped in the shower to get ready for my lunch date.  I do some of my best thinking in the shower and I decided I really should do something that my dad would find amusing.  My father always played games with us.  To everyone else I'm sure they seemed strange but he would come up with weird challenges.  One of my brothers still remembers a "secret number" that my father challenged him to remember more than 25 years ago.  My other brother can name every off ramp on a stretch of highway over 15 miles long because my father challenged him to do it.  He would make strange scavenger hunt lists for us, help us create toys out of scrap wood, screws and fishing twine and would challenge us to guess that mileage between two points.  If we were correct he would buy us a treat (usually a Slurpee) but if we were close to winning sometimes he would drive around the block so we would lose, but all in good fun (and we still got a Slurpee!)

My father had a habit of driving around for no apparent reason.  He liked to find things that other people wouldn't readily know about.  A tiny strange house at the end of a dead end street.  A giant mansion at the end of a road that hardly anyone travels.  Or something as simple as strange graffiti that would otherwise go unnoticed.  He liked to drive.....a lot. So while I'm standing in the shower I was thinking how nice it would be to just take a car ride.  The weather was beautiful, I had plenty of time, but that's not what Rod would do because there is no adventure in it. And then it hit me.

I went to meet Margarito at my favorite spot.  I brought a little blank, pink card with me.  

My favorite restaurant!

I drew some lines on the card and handed it to my favorite barista Kelly and instructed her to either write Left or Right on 10 of the lines.

Kelly makes a mean mocha.

Then I gave the card to my favorite server, Dan, and had him fill in 10 of the lines with numbers ranging from 1-9.  

Dan, he's an awesome musician too.

Then I had Margarito pick two numbers between 1 and 9.  He picked 3 and 7.

Margarito.  Deep in thought about his lunch options.

The specials were pretty awesome today!

I had a delicious open faced, smoked salmon sandwich.

We finished up lunch and went out to the car to prepare for our little adventure.  He's what the little pink card looked like (minus the black writing in the margins)

Until this moment Margarito had no idea what we were doing.  I wanted to take a ride but didn't want any control in the destination.  The card represents our driving directions.  We pulled away from the restaurant and took our second right.  We then took our 6th right, our 8th right, followed by the 1st left until we got to the bottom of the list.  Then we drove 3.7 miles.  The black writing in the margins are the streets we turned on.

My imperfect plan did have a few hiccups.  I decided ahead of time that we would only include true roads with street signs, no marked driveways (and there are a lot of those in Sonoma county).  What I didn't consider were streets that came to an end into another street.  In that case we just counted it as a right or left, and continued driving and counting.  We also made a rule not to continue down any street that was marked NO OUTLET as that would have ended the ride quickly.  

Margarito and I had a really great time on this little journey, as silly as it seems.  It took about 45 minutes and we ended up 8.06 miles away.  I felt like my dad was there with me, silently making up new rules that would make the game more exciting but I got a little chill when we hit our final destination.

Pack Jack BBQ

This hole in the wall barbecue restaurant would have been right up my dad's alley.  If we hadn't just finished lunch I would have eaten there in his honor.  

I have decided to call this little game Rod's Routes.  My dad would have loved it and I'm going to continue to do one every year on or around May 1st.  Depending what your card says and where you start, the possibilities are endless.  Try it out for yourself, kids would love it and you might just find a tiny strange house or a giant mansion that you didn't know about.  


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your dad! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'll bet your dad was in the back seat with a big grin on his face! Great way to remember him.

  3. Your dad sounded a wonderful person. What a lovely way to remember him.

  4. Erin, this is wonderful, you are using your great memories of times with your dad and creating new memories! I think it's awesome that you want to continue next year - this really is a fine tribute to your dad and the love you have for him. He would be proud of you, you are a blessed woman!

  5. Your dad sounds like such fun! What a wonderful gift he gave you--adventure, fun, joy, and just to pay attention to small things. Wow! What a great post. I think this was a wonderful idea and I hope you do it every year in his honor. :)

  6. Now thisis a great idea for a roadtrip adventure! My daughter always like to just start driving and see where we end up...I'm sooo sharing this! What a great way to celebrate your Dad's love for fun!!!

  7. After reading your blog, you get the feeling of 'knowing' your dad a bit. That's really great Erin, a beautiful tribute to him.

    You found a factastic ritual for a fantastic dad.

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    1. What a lovely share Erin, this brought a tear to my eye and filled my heart. Your so lucky to have had such a wonderful dad. What a perfect way to remember him and do something that brings his spirit closer to you.
      - Danni O'Brien

  9. I've got to try this! I just read this post to my daughter, who is almost 11, and she agreed with me that it sounds like a lot of fun. And your dad sounds like he was really cool -- I'm glad you found such a good way to honor him. Lori Kingston (CraftingMama)



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