It was just like "Thelma & Louise."
Well, if Thelma and Louise were middle-aged German women with problem hair and sensible shoes. And if, instead of stopping at local fuel stops to pick up Brad Pitt, they stopped at every available coffee shop to pick up pie.
And if, rather than a spectacular kamikaze leap into the abyss to elude murder charges, they occasionally drove slightly over the speed limit and once accidentally passed a cop.
OK. So maybe it was more Betty White and Bea Arthur than "Thelma & Louise."
But it still was a story of two longtime buddies who hit the road. Our journey wasn't exactly blockbuster fodder: We were making a weekend trip across North Dakota to make freezable meals for my mother.
Mom is recuperating from a couple major blows to her health right now. She recently suffered a heart attack, but also has a rare stomach-bleeding condition, which has made her seriously anemic.
Since hearing of her condition, I've been combing articles online on foods that will keep up her strength while soothing her gut. But it was actually my friend "Bea's" idea to drive across the state to fill my parents' freezer with nutritious smoothies and soups.
We first met 25 years ago, immediately bonding over the fact we are both stubborn "west river" girls who shared a love for coffee talk, storytelling and kuchen.
We spent many evenings at Bea's kitchen table, trying to solve the world's problems, dreaming big and laughing till the tears ran.
She is an organic farmer with a degree in nutrition, so I used to have to bring my own unhealthy flavored creamer and Diet Coke when I came over to her house. She seemed to like me anyway.
But this also made her an excellent resource when trying to figure out how to help mom recover.
We arrived at my parents' house with bags of fruit, juices, applesauce and yogurt, all meant to disguise a profusion of superfoods like broccoli sprouts, spinach, seaweed, hemp milk and beets. My siblings had chipped in to buy Mom a Vitamix blender, which — in a pinch — could grind a whole sequoia into a fine dust.
As I cooked up a massive pot of ham and potato soup, Bea created batch after batch of healthy, freezer-ready smoothies. When they tasted a tad too "beet-iful" or earthy or grassy, she added bananas or vanilla or more of my parents' clover honey.
We cooked. We laughed. We did a lot of dishes, because Mom's dishwasher was broken. Bea, who is particularly fascinated by the rattlesnakes in the southwestern part of the state, got my Dad to tell his best rattler stories.
He told of our old farm dog, Ring, who got bit by a rattlesnake and healed himself by lying in a mud puddle for several days. Or the local man who used to catch rattlesnakes and keep them in jars in the refrigerator so they could be milked for anti-venom. Or the same man who supplied his sister-in-law with rattlesnake skins, so she could stitch up rattlesnake skirts for our town's cheerleaders. (Back then, our sports teams were known as the Rattlers.)
Within 24 hours, we were back in my Juke and headed back east so we could resume work Monday. We joked it was our "(make) shakes, (talk) rattle and (let's) roll" tour.
And I am grateful for it. It was a reminder of how every moment with your parents is important — especially when they are in their 80s or 90s. It was a reminder of how different life was, even just a few decades ago. It also reminded me of what a natural storyteller my dad is, or how lucky I am to still have mom after all of her recent health challenges.
I am fortunate to have real friends who care enough about my family to give up a weekend to spend time with us. And, in the process, we can laugh and concoct strange potions and solve the world's problems too.
So forget it, Thelma. I'd rather hang out with Bea.
Tammy Swift is a business writer and columnist at The Forum. Contact her at email@example.com.