Today marks one month since my spouse and I finished moving all our personal possessions out of the home we have been renting for more than a year. It took 12 hours to tackle all the last minute details, cleaning, sorting and loading. The larger pieces of furniture are staying in the house, which we have sublet while the smaller personal items were either stowed in the garage or the small storage unit we rented or hurriedly packed into our suitcases. This is phase one of a multi stage transition we have been planning for months.

With the house packing behind us, we embarked on an epic three-week road trip through California to visit friends, family and to touch base with the tenant who rents the home we still own in central California. One of my favorite things about road trips is the experiences and stories cultivated during any journey. For example, we get an opportunity to get intimate and close with small town America. Our first night on the road is spent in a small town in Northern California with the usual local pizza parlor, burger joint and Thai restaurant. So here’s the small town experience.

Saturday night in a small town pizza joint is a buzz with activity, in particular this specific pizza joint was next door to a bar and not only did the pizza joint provide pizza for many families and groups of friends, it also delivered pizza to the bar next door. The waitresses were running back and forth delivering pizzas to the tables while also furnishing pizzas to the bar patrons. Anyway, while finishing up our pizza dinner my spouse had about a half of bottle of Henry Weinhard root beer remaining and I said to him “you know you don’t have to finish that”? So Henry Weinhard root beer comes in a bottle that looks exactly like a beer bottle. Earlier in the evening when we had first sat down and were waiting for our pizza to finish baking, I read the ingredients for the root beer. Mostly I read labels and ingredients looking for all the devious methods that food and beverage processors employ to sneak corn syrup into food items. Anyway, my spouse recently made a vow to eliminate corn syrup from his diet so I was doing my part to be supportive through conducting a preliminary screening and shared with him that even Henry Weinhard root beer has the addition of corn syrup in its beverages.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. Before hitting the road, my spouse drives over to the local Dutch Brothers coffee drive through kiosk and parks the car so that he can use the walk up window. We are transporting our bicycles on the roof of the car so using the drive through lane at the Dutch Brothers kiosk is out of the question. It is our hope to get through this road trip without driving into a low hanging roof while the bicycles are still loaded on top of the car. So my spouse is chatting it up with the morning barista who says to him . . . “hey were you at the pizza place last night having dinner and your wife who said to you “you know you don’t have to finish that beer”, oh my gosh!! Of all the conversations I am sure that waitress overheard Saturday evening, the conversation where I suggest to my spouse that he doesn’t have to “finish that” is the one that sticks out in her memory AND she works as the morning barista at Dutch Brothers! We laughed our butts off at the retelling of this story. Firstly, what are the chances of running into the same waitress from the pizza joint? Apparently, in small town American, it is quite high. Secondly, I can only imagine what this waitress “thought” she heard the preceding evening when I suggested that my spouse didn’t need to “finish that”. How many of those conversations has she overheard as a waitress and I wonder how the storytelling shifted after the coffee order interaction?