Doug was at the helm on top and he had to step away for a second and I was quick to swoop into his place. I was initially joking, but he insisted I keep driving the boat. I use the term, "driving" loosely; the boat was driving itself and I was merely steering it. Though, with a boat that large, the smallest turn of the wheel will turn it quite a bit. It was going slowly enough that it wasn't like playing Corners in the car where you're swerving all over and people are flying everywhere, but when we looked behind us for the time I had been driving, our path was a continuous "S" pattern.
Everyone was a critic, saying I was a drunk driver and things of that sort, but when I passed the responsibility to Shawn and then to Mary it was clear that none of us were great at it. We had our fun, but ultimately decided that Doug should definitely continue to be the driver and captain. That was of course until we decided we all needed a group photo and demanded that he leave the wheel to pose in our photo with us. A bunch of risk takers, obvs.
Once we pulled up to the marina we had only arrived at 5 mornings previous, a somber feeling came over us all. It was like the end of summer camp where everyone is giving each other hugs and promising to stay in touch. I still get sad thinking about saying goodbye to those beautiful humans.
Once they showed up, we had to go through yet another goodbye as we got our things and walked to our car. It may have just been me, but I was so sad. I loved my new friends, and no matter how much we promised each other that we would plan activities together, there is always that whole "real life" looming in the back of our minds. And real life makes things hard.
Landon and I had been driving for about 10 minutes when I realized I had to pee (classic Whitney) and requested we stop at the next gas station. Landon agreed since we just happened to need gas. We pulled up to the pump and not 30 seconds after we got out of the car did we see Shawn and Stacy pull in the same gas station. We all had a good laugh and accused them of stalking us. We all went in to use the bathroom and get caffeinated beverages for the long drive ahead of us. After we all paid, it was yet another goodbye to two of my newest favorite people. I swear to you, my heart broke a little more each time I had to say goodbye to our couple counterpart. A few more hugs and waves through windows and we were on our way home for real this time.
Despite the cookies we were eating and my bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper, I managed to fall asleep in the car for an hour or so. When I woke up, Landon had been sifting through a playlist on my phone looking for one song that he had really liked on our way down. The playlist in question had nearly 600 songs on it and he didn't know who sang the song or what it was called. So we spent the next hour trying to find it. When we finally found it, it was the song right before the song we had started with; I found that particularly hilarious.
By this point in our journey we were about halfway home and hungry. And Landon had needed to pee for at least 4 exits. We decided to pull over at the next stop for gas and Costa Vida. Landon was putting gas in the car and I was throwing some garbage away when who should pull up behind us once again but Shawn and Stacy? At this point, I really think they were stalking us. Not really. But it was so funny that we kept showing up at the same gas stations with zero communication. We decided that it was fate that we have one more lunch together before our trip was officially over.
Landon went to the bathroom while I went to get in line with Shawn and Stacy. Stacy was trying to figure out what the special was that day and asked us, "What day is it?" And without missing a beat, Shawn started to sing a song from a Space Ghost album I had memorized word for WORD when I was in jr. high. It was an entire album of dumb music, but I found it so funny and nobody ever knew what I was talking about when I would sing songs from it. So when Shawn sang, "What day is IT?" in Brak's voice, and I looked at him and sang in the same voice, "Could you please tell ME?" And a smile spread across his face as we sang in unison, "What day is IT?! I'm confused you see!" We both started laughing and Stacy gave us the look I always got when I sang those songs and shook her head and laughed, saying, "I can't handle you two."
We had a great last lunch with them and said one more final goodbye (this time it really was for good) and promised to find time to get together again. And I really hope we do. Over the last two weeks, I've expressed to Landon how much I miss them probably ten separate times. People that you connect like that with are rare, and I hope we can continue to have a friendship with them.
We stopped one more time on our way home at the Redmond grocery store to stock up on our favorite foods from the trip including the raw milk, whole milk greek vanilla yogurt, and grain-free granola. After that, we didn't stop until we got home. I was in desperate need of sleep, but I had to get back to work on the night shift that night. Talk about sleep deprivation.
And that was it; that was our trip. I can say that it was my favorite part of 2016 and even two weeks after the entire trip, I still think about it multiple times a day. I'm so thankful Landon got this job and for how great this company treats it's employees. This trip was an experience of a lifetime and I will cherish the memories and friendships we made for the rest of my life. Seriously, it was that good.
*Cue Vitamin C Graduation Song*