Caffeine and Cookies

Sometimes your trip is longer than expected. Also, caffeine can keep you awake.

My parents were big believers in long car trips when we were kids (I’ve been to 45 states so far). My one and only flight was to California in 8th grade, and that was only because we had one week and you can’t exactly drive to California and back from Michigan in that time frame.

That’s why here we were, driving from Michigan to Yellowstone National Park when I was between 10th and 11th grade. It was our last day of driving, and my father thought that it wouldn’t be that bad, since we just had to drive across Wyoming. We were in Ely and had just stopped for both ice cream (my mom and me) and tacos (my dad and brothers). And, somehow, we ended up with a 64-oz Mountain Dew.It was approaching dusk and we were leaving town for the rest of the drive. We were traveling in a full-sized Ford Econoline van with a pop-up trailer attached to the back.

At that moment we noticed the deer running along the side of our car. And that deer then decided to turn in front of our car.

There was quite a bit of shock afterwards, since my family had never hit a deer before (which actually was an amazing feat with how many trips we had to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula). Somehow, our car and everyone in it were fine, so we got back on the road.

I then was placed in the front seat and put on “deer duty” to spot any animals that could possibly run in front of our car. I also was given the 64-oz Mountain Dew to make sure I stay awake.

At this point, I should probably mention that I had never had caffeine before in my life. Ever.

Needless to stay, I was wide awake and wouldn’t shut up for the next 9 hours while my dad drove and my brothers and mother slept. From reports, I was barely making sense at some points. And I was singing and dancing along to country music while strapped in with a seatbelt. I also was jumping into air (or as far as I could jump while in a seatbelt) whenever I saw something that *could* be an animal that might run into our car.

My father maintains that I wasn’t *that* annoying. I’m convinced he’s just trying to be nice.

P.S. Personally, I wasn’t that big on Yellowstone- it was too touristy. However, Glacier National Park in Montana was infinitely nicer.

Caffeinated Chocolate Pecan Balls

eat these to stay awake


  • 2 sticks softened butter (feel free to do this in the microwave if necessary)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 and 3/4 c flour
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder (make sure it’s unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c chopped pecans
  • Cooking spray


  1. Mix together butter, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined. Pat down, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  5. While oven is preheating, remove cookie dough from the fridge. Roll dough into teaspoon-sized balls. Place onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake cookies in batches for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies just feel firm. Let cool and serve.