Today’s post is something that some of you have read before, but it bears repeating. It’s an excerpt from our Christmas letter from 2004, the year we moved to Charlotte. It starts slowly, but hang on, it gets exciting real quick.
11/25/04: Kellers depart Camarillo at 9:45 A.M. Fifty miles into the trip, Cameron asks, “Are we almost to North Carolina?”. Thirty-eight miles later: “Are we almost there?”. Ben nods off around lunchtime. Cameron tries to pry open his eyelids. Sign spotted by the roadside: “State Prison Next Exit. Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers.” Upon arrival at the hotel in Tucson, AZ, David realizes that he has misplaced his briefcase and probably left it back in Blythe, California, where the Kellers ate their Thanksgiving lunch at a local Denny’s. This would not be a problem except for the fact that the certified check for the closing of the house is inside the briefcase, which David now remembers leaving in the parking lot amidst the hustle and bustle of loading the kids into the van after lunch. Kelly makes a frantic phone call to the restaurant and eventually learns that the briefcase has been found and is in the safe, where it will remain until the manager comes in the next morning.
11/26/04: After approximately two and a half hours’ sleep, David departs Tucson at 4 A.M. to drive the three and a half hours back to Blythe to meet the manager. Kelly and the three boys spend a leisurely morning at the hotel in Tucson, enjoying the continental breakfast and the Post-Thanksgiving Tom and Jerry marathon on TV. David meets the manager of Denny’s, who naturally asks for proper identification and hands over the briefcase. The check is still inside. David eats breakfast at Denny’s and learns that the manager’s wife, who also works at the restaurant, discovered the briefcase in the parking lot. She informs David “this is not a real good part of town to leave things.” David also learns that “the safe” was actually the trunk of the manager’s car. After profusely thanking the kind couple, David drives back to Tucson, arriving around noon, picks up the family, and continues driving five more hours to El Paso, where the weary family spends the night. Ben falls out of bed in the middle of the night.
11/27/04: Kellers depart El Paso at 10 A.M. and enjoy a short five-hour day of driving to Odessa, TX. On the way they see…west Texas. If you’ve been there, you know.
11/28/04: Kellers depart Odessa at 7:30 A.M. Stopping for a break outside of Abilene, the boys see a gutted deer in the back of a pickup truck. Ben is instantly impressed. The manager of a convenience store tells Kelly that he can see she has her hands full. She considers retorting, “You don’t know the half of it” but keeps silent. Arrival in Shreveport, LA is a welcoming one, with a Cracker Barrel right next to the hotel. Andrew spits up in the middle of dinner, making a bit of a scene for Dad while Mom wanders around the Cracker Barrel store, blissfully ignorant.
11/29/04: What we like to call “The Longest Day.” Kellers depart Shreveport at 7:30 A.M and cross Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and a good part of Georgia. After a few hours of driving, they almost run out of gas in a rather scary backwoods locale in Northern Louisiana. Relieved to finally be on the eastern side of the Mississippi river, they arrive in Atlanta and prepare for a “quick” three and a half hours the next day. David rejoices to think that he can finally empty the expertly packed minivan the next night.
11/30/04: Just a jaunt through South Carolina and the Kellers arrive in Charlotte around lunchtime. A quick walk-through of the house, an afternoon closing (thank goodness that check is out of their hands!), and they are officially North Carolinians.
November 25th will forever be in our minds as the day that tens of thousands of dollars were saved for us by a humble manager’s wife in Blythe, California. The ending details of the story are that we sent a giftcard to the woman in thanks; it had to be a Kmart one, because there are no other stores nearby. And tonight we will head to Denny’s for dinner in remembrance 🙂