The view from here

599891_3617747276175_1528940450_nGrandma Linda and Shelby, on 5.30.2012, the day this was originally written.

"Gotta go to Grandma's house. Chop chop Mom," Shelby yelled as she popped out of bed.

With the sun peaking out over the horizon, we headed down the highway, south on CA-99 from Tulare to Porterville.

As far as my eye could see California farm land passed us by. Field after field of produce appeared in my line of sight. Orchards with cherries, oranges and other yummy food popped up around us.

Looking in the rear view mirror of my rented Dodge Charger I can see the top of a pink floral bucket hat. For the first time in close to six years, Shelby joined me on my business trip.

When she was a baby, she traveled with me regularly -- trips to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Las Vegas Review-Journal were common place for a baby Shelby. But about the time she turned two, it became impractical for her to hit the road with Mama. Preschool called to her, plus her little toddler self could no longer sit quietly in the back on the room as I worked.

This week I find myself in Central California conducting training sessions at the Visalia Times-Delta. It just so happens my mom lives a short drive from the newspaper in the adjacent town (Porterville). Whenever I leave for a business trip, Shelby begs me to stay home or to let her join me. Since this was the first week of Shelby's summer vacation, I thought I'd surprise her with a trip to Grandma's house. I didn't have to ask her twice. She was beyond thrilled to jump on a plane and travel with me.

We exited the highway and moved east on a small, two-lane road. Shelby's eyes were as big as saucers with her eyes fixed on the bails of hay on that dotted the field. For us city girls we were both fascinated with the cows, fields and farm paraphernalia flying past us.

"How long until we get to Grandma's house?" Shelby asked.

"About five more minutes Shelb," I said.

"How long until we get to Grandma's house?" Shelby asked.

"Still five minutes Shelby," I said.

"Can you check the map Mom?"

I check her out in the mirror and her little face is pressed against the car window and the excitement of seeing Grandma is just oozing out of her.

"Shelby, that map says five more minutes."

I barely the chance to put the car in park and turn it off before Shelby bolted out, ran to to the door and was hugging her Grandma. From where I stood, I could see Shelby and Grandma hugging and laughing, happy to be together.

I said goodbye and as I headed off to work, I could see Shelby chatting her Grandma's ear off and Grandma hanging onto every word.

The sun set as I drove north on CA-99 from Porterville to Tulare. Looking back in the rear view mirror, my little girl is sound asleep, worn out from a full day of rock hunting, crafting and playing with Grandma.

It might not be Hawaii. It's certainly not Disneyland. But I'm pretty sure this trip will be a memory Shelby will hold onto for the rest of her life.


Written as an assignment for Ali Edwards’ class “31 Things” at Big Picture Classes.