Get Your Kicks on Route 66

The stubborn blue paint lodged in my middle fingernail is a constant reminder that I am not normal. I’ve tried everything… soaking it, using a file, the head of a screw, it doesn’t matter. Someday it will be replaced by another color but today it is blue.

My oldest daughter was expecting her second baby in August. She and her husband were in a wedding in late July and she wanted me to watch my first grandchild while she and her husband were doing the obligatory but magical wedding festivities, then stay until she went into the hospital. My first grandchild was born during Covid so I couldn’t be there. That same year my step father had just passed unexpectedly and derecho ripped through our town like a train off of the tracks. It was a strange year full of pain and no control. So when I had the chance/borderline hostage experience to get a one way ticket to California I embraced it and the chance to connect with this little light turning two this year.

I was looking forward to reconnecting but I was panicked. I may have the title of grandma, thankfully, now officially Ginny… but not the grandma life. I had a 15 year old starting high school and a job that I LOVE but I give it my all. All the time.

I truly believe my daughter carved a path for herself to be the complete antithesis of the way I raised my children. She is organized, calculated and confidently successful. I had my marching orders to care for grandchild #1… dinner at 6:00pm followed by a bubble bath at 6:30pm and in bed with the sound machine softly whispering in the background by 7:00pm.

I thought of my experience, Carly Simon lyrics to Coming Around Again “then you break a window, burn a soufflé, scream your lullaby” The panic in me began to surface. What if I don’t make these time requirements? Does she have a ‘Ginny’ cam somewhere?

Everything worked out great and I got to know that little bundle of toddler energy in a special way that I couldn’t during Covid. We were all waiting for the new little baby to come into this crazy world and I had some time so I decided I would start running everyday. I had it down. I ran a mile down to the school, then ran another mile around the school track and finished with the mile home.

One beautiful day, as most are in California, I was running my route and I saw a cute little white Volkswagen Bug parked along the street. I stopped and snapped a photo. Day by day I ran by the cute little bug until one day I noticed a for sale sign on the side of the car facing the street. I had been running on the sidewalk but there were roofers at a house so I had to jog over to the street. I hadn’t seen it. I could barely make out the number on the faded sign but I called and asked about the price and year etc. After some back and forth I took my son in law with me and he scrunched into the car like he was climbing into one of those clear bubbles you roll down hills in. We test drove it around the block. It was a 1973. It drove tight like a new car. I couldn’t believe it. I thought “This could be my vehicle to my sales calls!” The gas prices were killing me in the truck I bought to do quilt shows right before all of the quilt shows shut down due to Covid.

So after flying back to Iowa, some finagling, patience and faith the bug became mine.

My best friend from high school/former college roomate/maid of honor called me and she had some time off so I suggested she come with me to fly to California and drive the bug back like a very tame/lame Thelma and Louise saga!

#Sidenote -We met a lovely woman, a retired English professor on our flight to CA and I shared our adventure… she asked “Will Brad Pitt be there?” We both then sighed and looked off into the sunset…

Patty and I had such a lovely time reconnecting. We took part of Route 66 back until getting home overruled the nostalgia of this Manhattan Transfer song subject matter.

I was inspired by this trip to paint a beautiful collection featuring the California golden poppy on a blue/teal background (hence the blue fingernail) and so many more blooms! I turned 53 on this trip and some would argue had a mild midlife crisis. At least something is on schedule for me after all of these years.

The bug blew out the fuel hoses in Kingman, AZ and we were so blessed to have an amazing young man tow us to safety and clamp all of the fuel hoses and check the engine in general. As he was propping himself up from under the car an older gentleman in a pickup truck with long silver hair barked over “You good?” “You got it?” he was addressing the young man helping us. The young man replied “Yeah!” as if he had been through this before. “Yeah I got it”

The silver haired man yelled back “OK… because you know I love me my bugs!” and he drove off.

The young man looked up at me with grease and oil on his face and said “Yeah, people here just go crazy over these bugs.”

I was four years old when this bug was produced. The world then was unsettling. There was injustice, pain and war. Sometimes you have to raise a blue finger to the universe and say pain stops here. We will take the time with our loved ones, our babies, our paintings and be present for all of it!


  1. Enjoyed this post, Stephanie! Lots of real life, and living it to the utmost! Thanks for sharing all this.

    My best way to get paint, ink, etc out from under fingernails is to do a load of dishes in the sink.

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