Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

Tag: family vacation


With high school graduation now behind us, my Son and I took some time to relax and reflect on “Days Gone Bye” and roads yet to travel.

The best place for that in my book is the beach. Breathing in the sea air with sand between my toes is the best decompression therapy out there.

Our beach of choice for this trip was Ocean City, Maryland. The town where I met my Son’s Father and the place of my Son’s birth.

When my Son was little we would come back every year, but over time we migrated further north to Bethany Beach. And some years we didn’t even make it to the beach, choosing other locations for a Summer vacation, like Georgia for our TWD Roadtrips.



This year, considering where we have come from and where we are headed, I felt it was extremely fitting we go back to OCMD. Having lived and work there for three years, I have many fond memories beyond the obvious romance with my Son’s father and subsequent birth of our amazing Son.

This place will always hold a special place in my heart. How could it not?

When I moved to OCMD, I was single and starting over after a divorce. I knew no one, but I knew OCMD was where I was meant to be. My move was most definitely divinely guided.

Of course at the time I had no idea why. Now it’s quite obvious.

When my Son was born, he became the center of my universe, especially after we lost his Father when my Son was only 3 years old. My wants and needs became secondary. All that mattered was my Son’s health, welfare and happiness.

Over the years we’ve certainly seen our share of ups and downs, as documented in this blog, but it’s those challenges and rewards that made our bond stronger.

As with all children, as they grow into their own, and make friends, their parents start to take a backseat, so having a week with my Son all to myself was something I was very much looking forward to.

As they say in the Visa commercial, it was priceless.

By August he will be headed off to college and I will be flying solo, again.


In between now and then, he will be working his Summer job at an amusement park, and based on the shifts he’s been getting thus far, will more than likely be working a lot of nights, which means we won’t see much of each other. So it just makes the week at the beach, just the two of us, even more special.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walker Brain – Too Tired to Think

OK, so for the first time in the four years I’ve been writing this blog, I’m coming up dry in the monthly theme department. It’s not that I have writers block, it’s just that my Son and I have been busy beyond even our normal busy. So much so, even my brain is tired.

Walkers Circling House

October is always a extra-busy month when it comes to marching band because parades (one short one and one endless one) are added into the mix beyond football games, but this year my Son’s school also hosted a Tournament of Bands, at which the band performed twice, and the music boosters ran the concession stand, at which I worked. So the weekend of the Tournament, there was an away game Friday night, the furthest we’ve traveled regular season in two years, the Tournament Saturday and a parade Sunday.

This gauntlet was taxing on everyone involved, but my Son and I felt it even more. Why you ask? We had just returned from a trip to Arizona for my nephew’s wedding the previous weekend. This was the furthest West either of us had traveled and going out it was wonderful gaining time, but coming back it really got us, particularly because we landed at midnight our time, which got us home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.


We did take Wednesday to recuperate, but Thursday we were off and running, so we had little time to even catch our breath. Added to this I’ve been crazy busy at work, which makes my days just seem endless. Just getting done what had to be done at home was about all I could handle.

You would not have wanted to see my house the weeks after the trip, I had laundry sitting in the living room for two weeks before I could get it put away. Our suitcases are still sitting in the dining room waiting to be taken to the basement, along with unfinished project that have been sitting since band camp started in August.

Don’t get me wrong, our trip was an amazing whirlwind adventure, and one I would do again, but it did challenge me in the energy department, especially because I started with a head cold before we left, which put my energy and brain functions in a deficit to start. Add cold meds to mix I was in a constant state of brain fog.

Our trip West is a major highlight of the year and one we had been looking forward too since we booked our flight in February. I made sure I didn’t let the brain fog or low energy levels get in the way of enjoying time spent with family. Or the opportunity to see one of God’s greatest creations, the Grand Canyon. Words and photos don’t do this stunning piece of landscape justice. It most definitely should be on everyone’s bucket list.

One thing is for sure, if not for the wedding, I know I would not have gotten out West to not only see the Grand Canyon, but Las Vegas (at least the strip) and Flagstaff. My Son and I flew into Las Vegas, where we connected with one of my nephews and his family, then drove to Flagstaff. The scenery was spectacular. So glad I took my nephew’s advise.

So, although the end of October brought the end of the regular football season, I’m not sure November will be much different because the football team is undefeated, and we are now headed into the playoffs.

One thing is for sure though, nothing will compare to the gauntlet October put before us. The key thing though is we survived, and had a fantastic time, making memories we will never forget. And that’s all that really matters.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2017. All rights reserved.

TWD pics courtesy of AMC

Our TWD Summer Road Trip – 2017 Edition

Just as we did in July of 2014, my Son and I ventured to Georgia for another TWD Summer Road Trip. I would have liked to do this later in June, as to give us some time to regroup after a grueling Junior Year and 2 weeks filled with a ton of extra stuff, but that would have meant 2 of us in my department at work out at the same time, and that’s just not cool when there’s only 4 of us.

So, Thursday, June 15th, the day after my Son’s last final exam, we hit the road. Needless to say, we got a late start, but we were not doing any site seeing on the exodus South, so I was not concerned.

The total drive time was approximately 12 hours, with our goal to do 8 hours Thursday and the rest of the way on Friday.

Day One we went from PA, through MD, WV, VA and spent the night in Gastonia, NC. I knew some of the roads in VA could be challenging because of the truckers and the hills, but this time things were exasperated by downpours that slowed traffic down to 25 mph.

In addition, there were the crazy drivers who think a speed limit of 70 gives them the right to do 90. Throw in construction in the heaviest traffic and you’ve got a less than appealing road trip, AND, one that took longer then the estimated 8 hours.

At least my Son was very entertained by some new “colorful” expressions that came out of my mouth.

It was a good thing we stopped for a late lunch, because till we got to the hotel around 10 PM, we had no desire to cross a highway just to get dinner. We settled for popcorn and for me an adult beverage.

The next morning, we were refreshed and ready to go. We headed out for the rest of the journey to Georgia, which we extended an hour to get us to Macon, where the Allman Brothers’ Museum, the Big House, is located.


As an Allman Brothers fan, especially Greg, I couldn’t be that close without checking it out. Halfway there though, I came close to bagging it and heading to Fayetteville where we were staying for the duration of our visit.

Why you ask?

The traffic on I75 made all the craziness we saw on the first leg of our sojourn seem relaxing.

I am convinced having a speed limit of 70 gives insane drivers what they perceive as permission to drive even faster and without any care for anyone else on the road. Or, maybe it’s just our society, the “me first” mentality is everywhere, and it’s getting worse, but that’s a subject for another post.

We persevered and did make it to the Big House, which I am grateful for. The place was amazing. It is the very house Duane, Greg and Berry Oakley lived during the early years of the band. Everything was impeccably preserved and laid out in a chronological, laying out every detail of the bands journey.


You could feel the energy as we walked through the front doors. I got chills standing in Duane’s room and the kitchen where “Ramblin Man” was written.


This visit was definitely for me. My Son thought the place was cool, but didn’t get the significance when it comes to the history of music. Hopefully when he gets older it will sink in.


From the Big House we trekked to our Airbnb rental in Fayetteville. The moment we stepped through the door of this basement apartment it felt like we were home, which we greatly appreciated after our trying two-day exodus.

The apartment was stunning and beautifully decorated. We also had access to the pool and lake; unfortunately we were on the go so much our pool time was limited.

I was beyond happy that I decided to go this route. Julia and her family were amazing hosts and we look forward to hopefully returning one day. If anyone decides to head to the Atlanta area, I highly recommend looking Julia up.

Saturday, June 17th, we headed into Senoia for Dad’s Zombie Road Trip with Will Riggs, Chandler Riggs’ (AKA Carl) real Dad. He does a walking and a driving tour.


We opted for the walking tour because the areas he drives to are ones we had seen on our 2014 trip. The walking tour is 1 1/2 hours centered around Senoia, which was Woodbury in TWD, and the Alexandria Safe Zone, which is a housing development right next to downtown Senoia.


On our previous trip in 2014, we had explored Senoia a little bit, but not with the behind the scene stories Will dished out at every stop. Read the rest of this entry »

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