The miles and the sunflower seeds

A few summers ago we drove to Colorado for a family vacation.  Heather had to fly back for work.  Her flight was at the rude hour of six in the morning, so she needed to leave at 430 AM.  To jump-start our drive, we decided to leave when she was being taken to the airport by my loving mom.

The route was about 1,200 miles.  We got a call somewhere in western Wyoming from Heather.  Apparently her flight was the next day.  We were too far into our drive to return, and we were about to stop for gas and a breakfast of Slim Jim’s and Bugles (not much in western Wyoming); this was not my crowning moment as a parent.

When driving for long periods of time I need sunflower seeds to stay awake.  (This habit started in high school when Mike and I were driving to Lake Powell in a beat up Bronco.)  As we drove through Utah and into Idaho on our return trip from Colorado, we decided that we could make it all the way back to Portland without stopping.  The trip took a total of 22 hours.  I did pullover for a cat-nap somewhere in the Gorge.  At the beginning of the drive I bought a huge bag of seeds.  At the end of the trip there was a handful left.

I took the remaining seeds, in the bag, into school.  Teaching middle school math, I intended to use the remaining seeds as a proportional problem when we got to that unit.  Though I never busted out the seeds that year, asking students, “So what is my SPM?  Seeds per mile?”, the seeds remained on the board beside my desk for the entire year.

I think of that problem nearly daily.  This summer has had a lot of driving, all of it with Bear.  The first trip was a mere 90 miles from his original home.  Twice daily trips to Forest Grove began (65 miles round trip).  We’ve made that trip thirteen times.

We took Declan and his buddies to Evergreen’s Wings and Waves Water Park in McMinnville (80 miles).

We drove to Canada to visit Fiona, which included three ferry rides (700 miles).

We took a day trip with some neighbors to Astoria and Fort Stevens (225 miles).

And a trip to Port Angeles to pick Fiona up from camp (470 miles).  {I thought we might be driving to San Diego, but we luckily are flying}

In all of these travels I have been cracking seeds.  I prefer the cracked pepper flavor, but they are rare.  Ranch flavor is alright.  The Canadian “Seasoned” flavor is a close second to cracked pepper.  Thus far I have had two bags of cracked pepper, three bags of ranch, one bag of seasoned, and three bags of regular.  The question I would ask students is how many seeds a mile do I consume.  And how many more miles until my mouth is completely torn apart.


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