Archive for October, 2006
No post yesterday because I spent all day trying to figure out our plans for the next leg of this travelpalooza. And also eating cake. Karen, you asked WHAT KIND of cake? It’s my mom’s famous Rocky Road Sheet Cake although technically it isn’t rocky road because years ago, at our request, she started leaving out the marshmallows. It’s an incredibly moist and rich made-from-scratch sheet cake with a semisweet fudge frosting studded with pecans. You just can’t believe how good this cake is. I will be riding the sugar-high all the way to New Mexico.
So. The movers threw a wrinkle into our plans. The truck was supposed to reach San Diego, oh, about now. Scott is waiting on the other end to meet it, and then the plan was for him to fly out here to Denver and make the rest of the trip with us. But now the truck isn’t arriving until next Monday. Which means he loses the weekend for traveling. Argh.
But not to worry. We have a new plan. He’s meeting us in Phoenix instead. See, we all really want to make the last bit of the drive together, the entry into California, the first glimpse of the Pacific. (For the kids and me, it really is our first glimpse. I’ve never been west of this great state of Colorado.)
So I’ll leave Sunday and head south. Scott will meet the truck on Monday and grab a cheap one-way flight to Phoenix early Wednesday morning. (Knowing how inevitably the best-laid plans of mice and moms gang agley, we are allowing for a cushion day on Tuesday, just in case.)
In the meantime, the kids and I are thoroughly enjoying our respite at Grandma & Grandpa’s house. The food, my word, the food! When my sister came for dinner the other night, she surveyed the feast my mother had prepared and remarked that she had just mentioned to her husband that she was in the mood for a Thanksgiving-like spread. Which is what we’ve had, every night. Just yum.
My dad has taught Wonderboy how to go down the slide head-first. Which explains why the kid is walking around with leaves plastered to his forehead. Awesome.
On Wednesday the kids and I zipped across town for a lovely lunch visit with some 4 Real Learning friends. Mary, Mary, and Gwen, it was a joy to meet you all in person. We realized that between us, almost half of last year’s impromptu Journey North group was present!
Yesterday was, as I said, devoted to trip planning and also the dreaded van-cleaning-out. Which actually wasn’t too bad. I had to figure out how to clear space in the passenger seat for me to, you know, SIT in after Scott joins us. And then my mom took Jane and me shopping. Shopping! In an actual store! Where you see items in real life and put them in a shopping basket and then stand in line where an actual human person rings you up! No mouse-clicking of any kind! I could hardly remember how the whole system worked. Fortunately my mother was there to gently nudge me to the right side of the conveyor belt. ("No, dear, that’s a cash register, not a computer, and you mustn’t push the buttons.")
And she bought me some really cool shoes.
So little time to write! This morning, at least. We are off soon for another fun visit with friends, and I still haven’t had a chance to write about our marvelous visit with the Edmisten clan, who (amazing, this!!) drove four hours to meet us in Kansas the other day. Four hours. Each way. I mean, really. A. MAZE. ING.
And then there are all the stories and snippets from the trip, the ones too long to type into a PDA. Soon, soon. (I am promising myself. Must chronicle travels or else explode into teeny tiny bits of untold tales. Story shrapnel?)
Of course I’ll be forever in Alice’s debt (again) for taking notes on all the things I babbled into my wireless headset on the drive. She is the best kind of friend, the kind who not only doesn’t MIND if you interrupt her on the phone to maniacally shriek LOOK LOOK GIRLS A BURROWING OWL ON THE FENCEPOST OH RATS YOU MISSED IT!!!!! I’m sorry, Alice, you were saying?, she even writes down what you’re shrieking about. She also says far nicer things about me than I deserve, but you can just skip over those parts. She is totally biased, and we should all just be very frank about that. Whenever she uses words like "descriptive," "spontaneous," and "adventurous," you should substitute "longwinded," "flaky," and "nuts." Just so you know.
On a totally unrelated note (except that it’s about WRITING and see how cleverly I have tied it to the title of this post?), the Washington Post has an article today about cursive handwriting: how keyboarding is turning cursive into a dying art, and how many college applicants today can barely read cursive much less write a legible hand, and how there seems to be a link between cognitive development and cursive handwriting. Most of the homeschoolers I know do teach cursive (or, in my case, throw a cursive workbook at an eight-year-old girl and leave her alone with some gel pens, because all those swirls are ooh, so pretty!), so I was interested to read that few public schools spend much time on it nowadays.
The first (long) leg of our journey is over. We made it to my parents’ house in Colorado, and the first thing I saw when I walked into my mother’s kitchen was my favorite cake waiting for me on the counter. Which is why I can’t write more right now. Don’t want to get crumbs in my father’s keyboard, you know.
Somewhere in the middle of Kansas, I called Scott to say we’d be stopping for lunch in either Wakeeney or Ogallah, I wasn’t sure which. He called back and got my voice mail. Left me a message saying Wakeeney has a population of something like 1650 souls. Ogallah? Population 162. By the time I heard his message we’d already driven through Ogallah and hadn’t seen enough evidence of human existence to sustain sixteen people, much less a hundred and sixty.
I stopped in Wakeeney instead and discovered that our lunch options consisted of McDonald’s (again) or the Phillips 66 convenience store. Both of which fine businesses, by the way, are to be found under the same roof. I guess rooves are even more scarce than people in Wakeeney. (Also, and this is important information, do not make the mistake of assuming you can refill your gas tank at the Phillips 66 side of the store. Every single pump is out of order.)
Approximately 300 of Wakeeney’s 1650 citizens were crammed into the McDonald’s side of the building, shooting the breeze over Big Macs. I went to what I thought was the end of the line at the nearest register, but it turned out I’d unwittingly cut in front of an old gentleman who was standing a little to the side, leaving a free space for traffic to the restrooms. I apologized and began to herd my brood to the REAL back of the line, but he waved us back to our former place.
"You go ahead," he said laconically, adjusting the brim of his (and I am NOT making this up) John Deere cap. "I’ve got more time than money."
My heart filled instantly and completely with love for him. I wanted to be his neighbor and invite him over for a Sunday dinner of ham and mashed potatoes with my pan gravy, which is the only dish at which I truly excel. My gravy is to die for. I’d have let him leave his tractor cap on at the table. And I’d give him cobbler for dessert, because I also make a darn good cobbler, if you don’t mind the cherries coming out of a can.
All the rest of the day, as I watched the curves of prairie undulate past our windows, I was thinking of that old man and what he said. I’ve got more time than money. Me too, mister, me too. It brought me back, as everything brings me back, to my understanding of what motherhood is about. What I can give these children is my time. Time. I think about these long hours we’ve spent together in the car, singing Tom Chapin songs and eating sour cherry balls, and I’m so glad we chose this option for getting ourselves across the country, the route that takes more time than money.
We’re in Colorado! No web access all day yesterday, but loads of fun. Really. The Prairie Museum of Art & History in Colby, Kansas: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Super fun even in cold rain. More on that later.
More on everything later! For now: Pike’s Peak or Bust! OK, not really. We aren’t going to Colorado Springs. Grandma’s House or Bust! Only a few hours to go before we descend upon my parents in a noisy, rowdy, riled-up bunch. You sure you’re ready for this, Mom?
One hotel, two pizzas, eight children, a thousand giggles, one stern phone call from the front desk.
Friends worth driving to Kansas for (even if we weren’t just passing through): priceless.
Looks like we’ll have to head to KS City for Mass this morning. Might also be able to squeeze in a quick hello with some friends there, and then it’s on to Kansas and an overnight rendezvous with Karen E! Color me a-cited!
I think it was over at Lilting House that I was rhapsodizing about that fine invention, the breakfast buffet. I forgot the best part of yesterday’s morning repast. The food was in the hotel lobby, the tables in a small adjoining room. I filled Beanie’s plate and told her to go find a place for us to sit. When I entered the dining room with my own full plate, I was surprised to spot Bean chowing down at a table occupied by a large party of senior citizens. Everyone at EVERY table was grinning with amusement at our happy Bean and her hard-boiled egg.
“Oh!” I cried. I had to laugh. “I told her to find a seat. Guess I didn’t specify AT AN EMPTY TABLE!”
Cracker Barrel east of St. Louis. Full dish of cocktail sauce in baby’s fist. All over my jeans! Not my favorite perfume. Now at McDonald’s Play Place for some exercise. Is this what they mean when they talk about seeing America?
Next up: the Arch. (Singular and not golden.)
Rose: Even though Beanie can be annoying, I wouldn’t want her to be eaten by a shark.
(I’m sure we’re all glad to hear THAT.)
(And actually the kids have all been great.)