My car's odometer just turned over the 140,000 miles. It did so as I was returning from Rapid City, South Dakota. I presented a paper on laundresses at the West River History Conference. Three weeks ago, I was just west of there, at Sturgis. I was a guest speaker at Fort Meade. The week before that, I was at the Wyoming State Historical Society meeting in Cody, Wyoming, accepting an award.
Sometimes my husband accompanies me on these trips, but it depends on him being able to take time off from work. Fortunately, I have enough leave days banked that it is not a problem for me to make these journeys. However, I do have some constant traveling companions.
A number of years and three cars ago, I bought a blue, Buick Century. That is when I learned about "New Car Syndrome." This is when an individual doesn't notice any other cars, until he or she buys a car of that type. After I bought the blue car, I noticed there were at least fifty other blue cars in the grocery parking lot, and they all looked either identical or very similar.
It dawned on me why one friend had a hat on the back window ledge of her car, and other had University of Wyoming Cowboy brown and gold pom-pom shakers on her dash board. This was so they could readily identify their own car in the parking lot.
I wanted to put something unique in the back window of my car. I found Cow at a local store. She was just the right size, and was a reflection of my interests. She traveled many miles with me, and when the blue Century finally became a little questionable on road worthiness, I traded it in for a newer, Green Buick Century. (Can you tell I liked those cars?) Cow assumed her duties on the back window ledge of that car. Eventually, it became necessary to trade the green Century. Along came my GMC Envoy, and as you read earlier, I have put well over 100,000 miles on that car.
To give you an idea of how easy it is to rack up miles here in Wyoming and beyond, the two trips to South Dakota were over 600 miles each round trip, while the one to Cody was over 700 miles round trip. Many of those miles are on two-lane highways, too. That gives a person a lot of time for contemplation, especially when the vehicle ahead has a driver that a) is afraid of the mountain road, or b) is jamming on the brakes every few moments to stop and gawk at something.
There isn't a back window ledge for Cow to sit on, but I didn't feel right not having her in the car anymore. She sits in the middle of the back seat now.
Cow acquired some friends along the way. Frog was literally sitting up, in the middle of the street when I was driving to work one morning. He looked quite forlorn. I felt sorry for him as cars whizzed by, causing him to rock back and forth. I rescued him, and tucked him in beside cow. I don't recall Monkey's story now, but it was much the same.
Cow, Monkey, and Frog always wear their seat belt. Cow has traveled the longest with me, and has logged close to 300,000 miles. She has been all over the mid-western and western United States, from Texas to Montana, and from Kansas to California. Some of those trips were research for "Laundress," along with book signings and marketing gigs, others were for family weddings and funerals, while others were just for fun.
I expect my little trio will be traveling with me for some time to come. There are lots or roads ahead, and places and people to see.
#BuickCentury #GMCEnvoy #Cow #Driving #Laundress #SoapSudsRow #Sturgis #Fort Meade #CodyWyoming
Jennie Lawrence is the author of Soap Suds Row - The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses 1802 -1876. She also writes a regular column for African Violet Magazine, and has done freelance work. She has started to dabble in children's literature as well.