Monday, February 9, 2015

Things I Love - Wall Drug Mug

After my parents separated and my mom moved us away from my childhood home I always felt displaced. I honestly loved the home I grew up in. I still have fond childhood memories about countless places scattered through that home. My brothers and I carved our names in places our parents would never find them. We had hiding spots for favorite toys. We had escape routes through bedroom windows and basement windows (and we practiced our escape plans). There was the awesome climbing tree in the front yard that my dad planted. There was the row of forsythia bushes all along the side of the house that my bedroom window was on that blazed with vibrant yellow in early spring. My mom always planted annuals in the backyard along with peppermint plants that I adored. My parents had made or backyard into a childhood adventure land for us kids with a raised club house that my grandpa built by hand, a huge above ground pool, and a trampoline that was the envy of all the neighborhood kids... remember my parents were good at using credit cards too. Our driveway was lined with a long row of raspberry bushes. We lived in the city but we had all the fruit in our yard a kid could dream of to eat during raspberry season. All of my good family memories, playing with neighborhood kids memories, and feeling home memories are attached to that house. My parents bought it brand new so it was truly our home.

We moved away to a neighboring city when I was about 12, out to the country onto a seven acre property. I felt more at home alone off in the back part of our lot in an odd little patch of tiny Christmas trees that had apparently been part of a Christmas tree farm at one time then I ever did in that new house. The Christmas tree lot was riddled with briers and I made it my mission to eradicate them. I was 13. I knew nothing about getting rid of wild thorns. It was a lost cause that I fought for years... my mom knew nor cared one bit about this mission of mine. This house is the same one I've mentioned a few times when talking about our "hoarder home." I hated it at the new house. It wasn't home. It was filthy, it was cold, it was moldy (all due to us, we turned it into a rotting mess), it was depressing and it was not home.

I had a strong core group of friends in the city I grew up in. I wasn't quite old enough to drive when we moved away and my dear childhood friends kind of went on without me. Life goes on. I didn't make new friends, real friends until years later at the youth group where I also met my hubby. (In full disclosure I had one pretty good friend at my new school and I became great friends with an exchange student my sophomore year; I also think I would have made more friends at school if I hadn't been so depressed) By the time I became very involved with youth group I could drive and I spent considerably more time away from my "home" then I ever spent at it. My home was gross. It was sort of falling down/ crumbling. It was really smelly. I had a firm rule that even if friends came over they were only allowed in the yard to go swimming or for us to enjoy an enormous bonfire. No one under any circumstances was allowed in that house. I actually made my friends pee in the woods. Truly. That home made me feel homeless.

I started going for road trips with my closest friends (one in particular) I think shortly after graduating from high school. I hated feeling homeless but taking to the road and adventuring seemed to remove that feeling from me, at least for little bits of time. We road tripped to Niagara falls in Canada one day. If I remember correctly we came up with the plan early morning and left mid afternoon. One time we road tripped "as far south as we could drive and still get one friend who had to work the next day home in time." We made it to Kentucky before having to turn around in the middle of the night. I drove off to Nashville all on my own once. I also kind of didn't tell anyone I was leaving or where I was going. I worried a few folks.

The best road trip I ever took was with the other half of my brain, an amazing friend from youth group. We were franky and mikey. I was the right brain and she was the left. We worked fabulously together! We were in agreement about our top destinations: Ireland, Alaska, and Seattle. Since Ireland was considerably out of the picture and driving to Alaska would have probably killed whatever car we took we chose Seattle. We took off one day with some clothes, some snacks (that I vividly remember including a canister of premixed kool-aide powder and lots of cheezits), a little bit of money, a map, and a AAA hotel guide. We drove just about 1500 miles the first day. I've never felt so free. I never felt more alive. It was by far one of the best times of my life.

There's an entirely other blog post involved if I were to detail the awesomeness of that road trip. We did end up driving through the snowy mountains of Montana with no wiperblades (they broke). That adventure involved me wrapping a sweatshirt around my arm, rolling down the window, and driving with my arm out the window. I had to hit the wiperblade back onto the windshield with each swipe as it was shooting all the way off the window and acting like it needed to hit the snow in mid-air next to our vehicle. I remember Seattle smelling marvelous, of fresh flowers and coffee. Idaho was beautiful! We drove to the Pacific ocean on our way home to see the ocean for the first time and there were jelly fish covering the shore. Oregon was the greenest place I've ever witnessed with my own eyes... a bit like a chunk of Ireland in the US. We stayed in some neat little hotels/ motels...

Both ways, there and back, we witnessed about a billion signs for a place called "Wall Drug." They were mostly all hand painted, oddly placed, pieces of board spread all along the route. I was beyond fascinated by them and once we arrived near the highly marketed destination we had no choice but to stop for a visit. Turns out it's a huge tourist destination but neither my friend nor I knew this. It didn't seem much of anything to us; just a very big drug store/ souvenir shop (drug store like a pharmacy, candy and soda shop; not a place drug dealers operate out of) but we were also both very tired from driving. We spent some time there and were thrilled that we finally found out what all those signs were about. I purchased a mug there. It was cheap, maybe like a $1 but about 15 years later it's one of my absolute very favorite things I own. Every single time I see it, every single time I drink some Irish breakfast tea or heavenly black Guatemalan coffee out of it I'm reminded first of my dear friend, the other half of my brain, who now lives nowhere near me and of one of the best weeks of my lifetime.

I LOVE my wall drug mug!


  1. There's a fabulous story about free ice water that put Wall Drug on the map. I've been there twice, road trips 15 years apart with my older kids and husband in 1997 and just three summers ago with youngest daughter who wasn't born yet. It's quite a place-love the mug and please share more road trip tails.

    1. It's funny because we did not know that it was such a big deal when we stopped. But it shows up sometimes on TV and in movies so its pretty neat being able to be like, "hey I've been there." We just felt like we'd found the treasure from the treasure map after all the seemingly hundreds of signs we'd seen and laughed so much about the entire time we were driving. It was such a great road trip.