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After the loss of her mother, Harley can barely handle her grief. And she can’t shake the guilt that it was her fault. No matter how she tries to dull the pain, the memories of all she lost keep surfacing. Her only distraction is Dean, her best friend (with benefits), but even their relationship has become an emotional minefield since the night they spent together on the beach...
Harley’s one true escape? The open road. So she sets out on a cross-country trip to scatter her mother’s ashes. This is her chance to finally make peace with her mom’s death, and with Dean by her side, it may be just what they need to get over the awkwardness between them.
Except Harley has a secret, one that has the potential to change her life—and Dean’s—forever. And no matter the distance they travel, there’s no avoiding the truth.
Top 5 Not-To-Be-Missed Places to See on a Road Trip
For the last two decades, my life has pretty much been one long road trip, so it was very difficult for me to narrow this down to five places. I sorted through the memory files in my sparkly little brain, trying to pinpoint the road trip moments that literally took my breath away. Here they are:
Ok, so this is actually a road, not a place on the road, but the Pacific Coast Highway is the kind of dazzling that will blow your pretty head off, in the best way possible. As its name implies, it’s a highway that meanders along the Pacific Coast, being all paradise- like. When I was young, I was very, very depressed--clinically so—and I started following a rock band with a brilliant, amazing friend. One day, we had received a bootleg copy of our band’s next album, and we were listening to it as we drove up and down that highway. I had this moment of pure bliss, listening to that top-secret music, looking off at the palm-tree laced horizon, watching the sea stretch into forever, holding hands with my friend. I realized life could be beautiful. I think that was the moment I fell in love with the road. So yes. If you have never driven the Pacific Coast highway, do it, preferably in a convertible with the top down. But if that’s a no go, at least roll down the windows and drink in the salty air.
I hate to be cliché, but you have to see the Grand Canyon. That whole “grand” thing isn’t an exaggeration. I have never felt as small as I did looking into that miles-deep gorge, thinking about the millions of years it took to become the miracle it is. And the colors. Dear God in heaven, the colors. They will redefine the word “breathtaking” for you.
However, if you are afraid of heights, you should probably stay away from the edges. (I am not afraid of heights. I sat on the edge with a friend, drank wine, and watched the sun set. The scene in The Long Ride Home where Harley and Dean do something similar grew from my experience.)
Music Row in Nashville. I love how all of the places I’m listing kinda have self- explanatory names. As the name implies, Music Row is an area in Nashville chocked full of music-related businesses—recording studios and record companies. What grabbed me though was all of the venues that offer live music. Since Nashville is a mecca for burgeoning musicians trying to get their big breaks, the caliber of the music in these joints is off the charts. And when you have danced your little heart out, you can run off to the nearby Johnny Cash museum, if you’re into that sort of thing. (I am. Johnny Cash was my daddy’s favorite musician, and he’s one of my artistic heroes.)
The Holy Family Shrine in Gretna, Nebraska. I know this is a weird one, and it’s probably just me, but when I stumbled onto this place, it changed me profoundly. The scene in The Long Ride Home where Harley has a transcendent experience at the shrine is based on my own experience there. You don’t have to be religious to feel all the feels in that place. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so you feel very alone when you go. I love solitude. And there is this gorgeous church made of glass at the top of the hill. When the light hits it just right, it looks otherworldly. And then, there is this beautiful white Mary statue hidden in the rocks outside the church, and you can sit there and think and meditate and feel loved. It’s super cool. (Full disclosure: I didn’t go during mass times. I was very much alone when I went there. It might be different when it’s overrun with people.)
5. The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Ok, I saw an alligator on the way. So there was that. For a girl from New Mexico, alligators are all kinds of thrilling. But beyond the reptile-based feels, the museum itself is just gorgeous. The architecture is mind blowing. It’s right on the water, which is stunning, and it’s surrounded by lush gardens. As if all that weren’t enough, Salvador Dali paintings are everywhere. I know. Weird for a Salvador Dali Museum, right? Dali is one of the most bizarrely wonderful painters who ever lived, in my humble opinion, and his work will bend your mind in all sorts of wondrous ways. There was a reason I made Harley’s dad a Salvador Dali knockoff painter (as opposed to a Picasso knockoff). Dali has a special place in my heart.
The Long Ride Home
By: Tawni Waters
Release Date: September 5, 2017
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