I dropped off the three girls (Xenia and her two friends) in Sunnyside, about 35 miles west of Richland, where they were spending the night with a friend. As I start back to Richland I call and leave a message on her voicemail. She should have been in Richland by then and I hope she has just left her phone in the car while she is visiting a friend in Richland. About 10 minutes later she calls back and is quite agitated. She left Interstate 84 and has been driving on Oregon highway 207, as per her mother’s directions, for about 30 minutes without seeing signs for Pasco, Kennewick or Richland or even Washington State. It turns out she has been driving south on 207 instead of north as her mother believed. Kim is not happy with mother. I tell her not to call her mother and detail her faults. Barb has had enough “fun” for her birthday without dealing with an angry daughter that knows how to push all the “right” buttons. I tell her to drive north, back the way she has come, and I can probably meet her at about the same place she got confused before. I headed south and pulled into a rest stop on I-84 at 19:46, four minutes after she arrived. We utilize the facilities, she ate a cereal bar I had in the van, and then we look at the map together. I give her a walkie-talkie and I lead her back to Richland.
At 21:02 she parks in my driveway–finally. She’s been driving almost constantly for 14 hours. She only stopped for gas and to wait for me at the rest stop. Xenia and friends had put the sheets in the washer before we left but I hadn’t made it back to put them in the dryer yet. Kim doesn’t care, “The bed has blankets, doesn’t it?” “Yes.” “That’s all I need.” I persuaded her to take out her contact lenses, she can use my spare case and solution so she doesn’t need to go back out to the car. She didn’t want any food, just sleep. She kicked off her shoes and got into bed with all her clothes on. I try to ask her about going to breakfast with me in the morning but she had the blankets pulled almost all the way over her head, like her mother does, is very groggy. I kiss her forehead, turn out the light, and close the door. My baby is safe for the night.