Sunday, July 26, 2009

school of rock

Music has always been a central part of our marriage: I knew he was the right guy when he also knew Fairy Tale of New York that first Christmas. We've gone to lots of shows.. and now that the kids are older, they come along. (Hey-- it's sometimes cheaper than paying a sitter!) Actually, they've been coming along for a few years. Their first show was Guster, Ben Folds, and Rufus Wainwright on our way to Palm Springs in 2004. Since then they've seen BNL, Great Big Sea, and John Eddie. Who the Hell is John Eddie? you ask? Think country Bruce Springsteen and that's pretty close. He puts on a fun show, and seeing him on 207 last night made us realize it'd been awhile since we'd seen him.

Having the kids with us at shows makes me happy. We never played Barney or kids songs when they were little-- they listened to what we listened to, and liked it. And it shows. They can sing along with a lot of the bands we see, and in the right setting, they even jump up and down. Tonight's venue was like a movie theater with a stage, so there was way more sitting in the crowd than there should have been, but when in Rome, you don't anger the people behind you. The kids brought it at the end and did us proud.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm madly in love with you and it's not because of your brains or your personality.

Our last three weeks have been amazing. Not only did we successfully get ourselves 3/4 of the way across country and back again, but we had a good time doing it. Our time in MT was wonderful and I feel closer to my sister's family than ever before. Aside from a few horrible meals in SD, there's really nothing to complain about. In fact, the only complaints are travel-food related. Well, that and chlorinated water; the smell makes me gag, which makes tooth brushing interesting, but that happens however I go about traveling. Not bad for a 3 week (and 45 minute) journey.

The only time WB and I are not in sync is when we come to a town where we know someone. I, the capitol E Extrovert, would stop at everyone's house along the way-- and time our days to stay with friends instead of paying for a hotel room. He, however, a lowercase introvert but an I nonetheless, would rather not bother anyone and just stick to ourselves. Life isn't perfect, and as Mick reminds us you can't always get what you want-- but of all the fights and complaints we could have traveling together, this is a pretty minor one. Should this bike trip across country ever happen, rest assured that I'll visit with everyone along the way and he'll just pedal himself along, meeting up with me at the end of the day, ready for a shower, whomever owns it.

Our early relationship was built on driving-- he got a job in Bangor 1 week after our first date. We'd drive to see each other, and then because we had no money (and gas was cheap back then) we'd drive around for enjoyment. We both grew up away from grandparents, so days of driving were a part of the deal. Add his love of driving to my love of figuring out where we are and you have a match made in heaven. He makes me laugh, and I think I return the favor. We think alike most of the time, like wanting to flip the map before finding a hotel-- the goal we each silently set, not needing to say it out loud until Boy asked if we were stopping. When we're on a road trip somewhere-- even just in the state-- I know we were made for each other. I married the right man. And if 3 weeks on the road confirms that, well, I guess I'll need no further proof, ever.

There's something about having, everything you think you'll ever need, sitting in the seat next to you.

there's no place like home....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

all the little chicks with the crimson lips say...*

Again with the driving... but with our major rockin' stop early in the day. Actually, it was in the middle of the day. We got queen beds last night... so we all slept well in a relatively empty hotel... so we slept late. Well, late for traveling. We left western Ohio at about 10:15 and had an AWFUL breakfast at the rest stop. Moldy coffee is all I have to say about that. (WB stopped at the next service area and we dumped the bad stuff and tried again, with much better success.) We reached Cleveland around 12:30, and easily parked at the R&R Hall of Fame. It was an expensive ticket but a wonderful afternoon walking around (let me repeat that: walking around and not sitting at all!) and seeing some really cool things. Bruce Springsteen is the traveling exhibit currently, and they did this cool thing with the lyrics to Thunder Road written, in his script, on the walls going up the circular stairs. Well worth the 2.5 hours spent off the road.

We got back on I-90 and headed East. Through PA without even stopping once and into NY. We stopped for dinner outside Buffalo and both of us wanted to get to the 2nd map of upstate NY before stopping for the night. So here we are at a Comfort Inn outside Syracuse. They don't make it easy to get to this hotel, but maybe because of that it's also relatively empty and we got a non smoking room $20 cheaper than if we'd taken one on a lower floor. Whatever-- I'm young and can take an elavator up a few flights to save a few bucks.

Tomorrow, home. Boy has made it clear that when he gets out of the (mini) van he is not getting back in anytime soon. We'll be ready for visitors whenever you're ready to come by...

*Today's winners get this prize. I'm kinda sad this game is ending. I may have to just pull out a random contest when I get bored :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Oh, there's nothing half way about the Iowa way to treat you*

Today was just about driving. We left Albert Lea, MN, after a "free" continental breakfast that gave new meaning to not having too high an expectation in such situations. Gas was cheap, though-- $2.37 or something-- and so we dumped the awful joe and filled up the van. ("You mean mini-van" Nanny.) In under an hour were in Iowa, and I started singing the above song (that was a hint, friends.) Iowa isn't bad-- a bit more topography and lots of farmland. Heck, any state that legalizes gay marriage before our state is ok with me! Miles clicked away, and before we knew it we were crossing the Mississippi. Now that came close to making me tear up: I take great pride in being someone who lives East of the Mississippi, so actually being East of that river made me happy. And, checking milage with Boy, we decided we were half way home. 2.5 more days. 2 more hotel rooms. 10 more meals. Within reach, for sure.

Crossing the Mississippi got us into Illinois, and about 65 miles later back into EDT. Our clock matches home! We stopped for dinner in South Bend and waved to Mr. Basketball from the road. The goal of today was to get into Ohio, and WB was determined to meet that goal. And so here we are, at the first EconoLodge we found inside the state line. Tomorrow gets us to Cleveland and a long stop at the Rock n Roll Musuem. Yea, we all really just want to be home, but 4 hours walking around while checking out something we'll all enjoy is probably just as important. Let me tell you, 3 days of basically sitting is not good for anyone's back or hips.

It feels pretty good to be past the half way point, and to be back East again. The hardest part of tomorrow for me will be actually stopping in New York and not pushing through to just get home. I guess it'll depend on how well we sleep tonight, and just how cool the museum is.

*Today's winners get this print from Excelsior Geyser at Yellowstone. It's my favorite thing we saw in the Park.

Friday, July 17, 2009

sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug*

Our day started heading to perhaps the most toursty-trap part of our trip: Mt. Rushmore. Viewing this monument was never on my Bucket List, but when you're within 50 miles of it, and you have your kids with you, it seems the wise choice to just go see it already. And so we did. And it was what we expected it to be: an impressive carving of 4 unifying Presidents in the side of a mountain. $10 for parking, and we spent maybe 30 minutes there, which included buying 4 postcards and then addressing and mailing them from there. (Dr. Sis, I think I transposed your zip code when I had to do it from memory, so it may take awhile to get to the boys...) It's quite something, but it is not the sort of place you spend a whole day at, which is good when your real goal is to log some eastward miles.

Once we'd retraced our steps back up Rt 16 to I-90, I made WB stop at Wall Drug. Again, it was quite a tourist trap, although I wasn't expecting it to be as bad as it was. I just like the story of this family opening their drug store in Wall, SD, in 1931 and noticing no one was stopping on their way through, still in 1936. So Ma had an idea to put up signs and give away free water... and the rest, they say, is history. (Or herstory, if you're feeling like a femist tonight.) Anyhow, we bought 2 postcards for us that have Native American founding fathers superimposed above Rushmore. Boy recognized Sitting Bull's picture, which made me quite proud. We'll need to do more with chief Joseph, Geronimo, and Red Cloud. I should put together a Native American History course for school, but that's a tangent for another post. Those 2 postcards totalling .75 earned me a free "Where in the Heck is Wall Drug?" sticker, which is what I went in for in the first place. Ah, advertising...

Now it was time for some miles. Here's the thing about "Great Faces. Great Places." slogan of South Dakota: I'm not so thrilled with the places. If you really want me to come visit your state and be a tourist, put in a sit down resteraunt on I-90. I had to eat a dog from the roller for lunch. I have NEVER done that before, and trust me, I never plan to again. I was happy to leave SD and cross into MN again. All was great until we stopped in Worthington. Here's my advice about stopping in Worthington: don't do it. There's nothing to eat there, either. We found a Chinese buffet where we had to pay before we were seated, and then seat ourselves and get our own drinks and silverware. Seriously.

So all I could think about all day was how "America Runs on Dunkin." America does not run on Dunkin-- the East Coast of America does, but the Midwest definitely does not. I cannot wait until I can get my first medium hazelnut with cream and sugar, just how I like it...

Yes, sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes the bug. We're driving the evidence home with us now.

*Today's winners get the above pic. Which I'm sure you figured out on your own.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

all around me, peaceful*

We left Bozeman at 9:30 this morning, after getting to spend some time covered up in nephews. As excited as I am to get home again, I am going to miss those boys and my sister and bro-in-law. It was a wonderful trip and so great to be with them. I know we will never live close enough to get together randomly, but there is the chace for a meeting in DC next summer: I really hope we're able to make that work. 2 years between visits is just too long.

Our stop of today was at Little Big Horn Battlefield. For those of you who are not history buffs, this is where Custer made his Last Stand. In fairness, the visitor center did try to represent both sides equally, but my bias towards the Native Americans overwhelmed me. Custer doesn't deserve any respect! He came in and took thier lands and expected thanks and a ticker tape parade? Um, hello? What planet are you coming from? Oh, right Eastern European White Man Who Thinks He Deserves Everything. I remember now.

Finally, in 1991 (I was in college now, people, and the Battle had happened 115 years prior) a Native designed monument was erected. I think they did an amazing job with the design-- it is built into a hill, and barely visable from the road. It is built in a circle, which is very significant in Native religion. The walls are lined with quotes and thanks for the sacrifies made there. Sitting Bull summed it up perfectly in 1881: "They attacked out village and we killed them all. What would you do if your home was attacked? You would stand up like a brave man and defend it." Sorry, President Grant, but just because the only tool you possessed was a hammer doesn't mean it was the right tool for the job.

Later tonight, watching the kids swim in the pool Tom Bodett kept clean for us, I was struck by how much they enjoy each other. They were laughing and playing and generally enjoying each other's company. Juxtaposed with the stop-of-the-day, I again found myself thankful for my life. I get to live the way I choose, surrounded by so many wonderful people that I sometimes feel spoiled. If someone attacked us and said you have to give up your beliefs and religion and traditions and your home, well, I think I'd fight back to.

*today's winning picture is one of these. Let me know your preference... or if you want me to chose, it'll be the first one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

so long, farewell...

Yesterday we took WB into Yellowstone. For those of you who have never been, I have 2 things to say: first, go. Find a way and just go. Second, if you try to do it all in a day, be prepared to be exhausted at the end. But a happy exhausted, because it is a very cool trip. My favorite is Excelsior Gyser, most likely for the brilliant teal and turquoise colors. Do it in a day, do it in a week, but just do it.

We had dinner in West Yellowstone. Now, it is important to note that West Yellowstone (the Montana town, not a part of the National Park) is only about 15 miles from Idaho. Spitting distance... so why did this sit down resturaunt serve me mashed potatoes FROM A BOX???? Seriously people, you should have more pride than that.

So what do good road warriors do in such a situation? They head to Idaho to buy a bag of chips. We stopped at the state line, right behind another family and before a third family doing the same. We, however, proceeded the 4 miles into Island Park, Idaho to buy our snacks and at least spend a bit of our traveling dollars in their state.

Today the kids and dad's floated the Madison while the mom's and baby did a bit of scrapbooking. We ended the day with a neighborhood retelling of The Tempest, adapted by Cousin O himself. It was a fun little evening and a nice chance to meet the neighbors before we head back east, to home, and the people with whom we share our lives. We'll be headed back to Bozeman in June of 2011 for WB's final class, and I'm sure we'll have as great a time then as we did this round, but man, am I ready for the East Coast again.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

(mostly) urelated to travel!

From Jess, via FB.

Three names I go by:
1. Mumma
2. Nanny
3. Buckaroo

Three jobs I have had in my life.
1. teacher
2. service clerk at Shop 'n Save
3. chambermaid

Three places I have lived
1. Biddeford
2. Farmington
3. Peru

Three favorite drinks
1. margarita
2. DD hazlenut coffee
3. JD

Three TV shows that I watch
1. Saving Grace
2. The Closer
3. Numbers

Three places I Have Been
1. New Mexico
2. California

Three of my favorite foods
1. salad made by someone else
2. Lays low salt potato chips
3. fajitas

Three things I'm looking forward to
1. visiting Little Big Horn
2. checking my mail/comments
3. coming home!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The mountains win again...

Today the kids and I knocked off another state that we've been in: Wyoming (Oh, yes!) is the home of Yellowstone National Park. It's only about 2 hours from Bozeman, and well worth the day we spent looking around.

Stop 1 was, naturally, Old Faithful. We saw it erupt twice-- the first time was just as we'd gotten in and the second took about 15 minutes longer than predicted, which caused me to wonder if I'd broken that bit of plumbing, too. We were treated to this cool inverted rainbow for our troubles.

From there we headed to the Canyon, which was a beautiful sight but a scary walk down to the lookout. Very skinny walkway, plunging over the side into nothingness. The mom in me can't handle such sights anymore... and maybe I'm getting a bit of mountain related anxiety. Notice how tightly I'm gripping them: that is not an accident. More on this later.

We crossed a few milestones the teacher in me enjoys-- the Continental Divide and the 45th parallel. I'm envisioning a "Where was Buckaroo and why should you care?" scavenger hunt to start the year.

Boy got to see his bison, and Girly her elk. We took the scenic route out of the park, right smack through the mountains, and I'm not kidding, I almost had a meltdown on the way down. The road was tiny-- enough room for 2 cars, 2 white lines, and 2 yellow lines. Outside the white line was nothing-- just the edge of the mountain. I pulled over to let the cars behind us pass and tried to get Uncle J to go ahead of me (he'd been behind us so we could pull over and look whenever we wanted) and he offered Dr. Sis to drive: it seemed smart to take them up on that offer. I'm not sure I'm going to be capable of driving the support vehicle on WB's cross country bike ride without therapy. Maybe I should start when we get home. Come to think of it, the Blue Ridge Parkway almost did me in post Atlanta Olympics.

(Yes, the irony of living in the Western Foothills is not lost on me. I can't explain why I'm losing it out here but have no issues at home. I keep telling Boy that traveling triggers my panic reflex. It might not be just a line I'm feeding him. I can cope going up, but coming down, well, it's not pretty.)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

M is for....

MSU and mountain! Today we hiked "The College M" which is in the Bridger Mountains. It was a simple little walk, although rougher for this old Nanny who is not in as great a shape as she'd like to be. Boy and Cousin O could have taken the hard way, but no way could the rest of us. We went up the longer, less severe way and then took a short cut, saving us about 3/4 of a mile but increasing the altitude by more than maybe I should have attempted. Or Girly, who should have had her puff in hand and not in the van. Anyhow, we all made it and had a fine, safe trip down.

should we stay or should we go?*

Today found us exploring again. It was cold and rainy (note that I have less guilt now!) so we decided it would be a good day to find Bozeman Hot Springs. I ventured out with map in hand and my two plus Cousin O in the back seats. I could get used to having a hot spring around-- it's a hot tub with water heated from the earth. It's perfect for my recycling nature-- no energy expended heating cold water-- just hot, soothing water ready for soaking at all times! Unfortunately, other people like these hot springs too.

And therein lies the rub: while I love my peeps of all kinds, I'm not such a fan of hanging out in pools with rude, oblivious people of all ages. I had to yell at one group of middle schoolers, trying to splash their buddies and repeatedly getting me. I let it go the first time... and then the famous Meanie came out. What's worse, though, is the adults supposedly watching their charges. They say nothing, ever. If I hadn't had 3 kids of my own to care for, I'd have just submerged myself in the steaming water and pretended no one else existed. Instead I convinced the 8,9, and 11 year olds that they, too, would rather sit and soak than play in the pool. Well, it worked for a little while...

Later in the evening, Cousin O had a pot luck for his baseball team so we took Cousin H to Columbo's pizza with us. I have to say, with all apologies to JOB, I had the BEST pizza of my life tonight. Crunchy crust with basil sauce and mozzarella, garlic, chicken, broccoli, and roasted red peppers. Heavenly. I am in love. They even have good local beer on tap. Again, there are a lot of reasons to stick around town... but the vast numbers of people would probably overrule pizza and hot springs love. Probably.

Oh, this last pic is a request of Wendy: kids in the sun at the town pool yesterday. Again with all the people! Give me a quiet riverbank that is hidden from the world anyday.

*Beaner and Nutty, I'm tossing this title out to you. Do you get the reference? Make your rockin' nanny proud...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

update from Dino Camp

WB is settled into his week looking for dinosaur bones. He called last night, from the top of some mountain he had to hike up (I'm sure it's more like a hill, but you get the idea) to get cell coverage. He was able to slide into a vacated cabin and get himself a single. Other tidbits include the obvious lack of interwebs, the prevalence of rattlesnakes, and that the roads become impassible mud runs should it rain. (We are really, really hoping for a dry Friday and Saturday so he can return to us on time!) In short, just what he expected.

Tonight he called while we were at dinner. The reception kept cutting out, and I couldn't hear him through the disjointed call and the full room. He told Boy and Girly, though, that he'd found a dinosaur tooth and a backbone, possibly from a T-Rex. That's worth the price of admission right there, folks! I wonder if those artifacts will end up in the museusm next to the rest of the specimen they have on display. (The actual bones, not just replicas.)

It sounds like he's having a good time. I hope he is. I'm sure Beaner and her fellow incoming 7th graders are going to have a good year filled with cool dinosaur stories. Lucky them!

life under a big sky

We're settling into a routine around here: lazy mornings give way to swimming lessons for their boys followed by some sort of activity. Yesterday we played in the park. ("It's cooler than our playground and ours is pretty cool!") Today we played in the city pool.* It's actually 2 pools, dividing shallow and deep by a cement walkway. I spied 6 life guards, I think-- 4 in chairs and 2 moving at all times, with positions being traded probably every 15 minutes. There is an elaborate water slide on one edge-- Boy tried one out, but didn't go back for more. He did it, though, which was pretty cool. The cousins are not as strong swimmers, being younger, and I was proud of mine for spending much of their time with them.

After that, Boy and Cousin O went to the chess club at the library, while Girly and Cousin H rode bikes and planned a play. For dinner we went to Ted Turner's Montana Grill. It's basically a fancy hamburger joint where you can get bison instead of burger. It was quite tasty, even if it didn't have beer on tap. I've gotten spoiled by brew pubs... turns out I'm a big fan of local beer on tap, where ever 'local' may be. We drove through downtown and saw the damage from a gas line explosion earlier this year. It's a cute little downtown, except for that.

What I enjoy most about traveling is seeing my people (I rarely travel anywhere I am not able to visit someone), seeing different things, and remembering why I choose to live where I do. Certainly, my friends who are more than friends at home are the main reason I stay, but I love small town America, where everyone knows your name and what car you drive and if something looks out of the ordinary, know someone they can call and ask. Girly loves biking through the neighborhood much more than she likes biking across our bridge on our dirt road, but I would not trade the isolation of our home for anything. Having a 12,500 student college 5 miles away would be fun, but I like knowing my neighbors are willing and able to come rescue me from any situation I may get myself into. I like my grocery store, even if I can't find my favorite salsa anymore. I like my home. And as much as I like visiting other areas, I can't wait to get back. Even if it is rainy and cold.

*I apologize for the reference to the lack of rain out here. I feel rather guilty about it all...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

couple of pics

Here is what you win, folks... Water Water, Go West, and No Sleep. Not sure yet about Middle of Nowhere...


The three of us have been friends since high school cross country. The two of them, since we moved into town when I was in 3rd grade and they in 2nd. MVP lived about 2 miles towards town from us, and we'd pick her up in Claude, our 1977 Oldsmobile my grandfather gave us instead of take the insulting trade in the dealer offered him, and go where ever it was we were going. We all ran cross country together, although saying I ran is being rather generous. (My senior year of high school, I was the girl the whole field clapped for as I was the final competitor stumbling across the finish line, looking rather pathetic. I ran because my favorite elementary school teacher was the coach and he asked me if I'd join the team so he could have 5 girls to make it an official team. A high school of 1200 kids and we had to beg someone to be the 5th member of a team. Have I mentioned I came of age in a football town?) Anyhow, I digress. We've been friends for a long time, and she is the only friend I have left from high school who I actually talk to and meet up with.

Unfortunately, we don't meet up enough. She lives in Western Mass, we in Western Maine. It's probably a 5 hour drive, which, compared to what we just did is peanuts, but when you're trying to fit visits in around the rest of your life, is just a bit too far. Her boys are 10, 8, and 15 months... and we hadn't seen them since before the baby was born. I feel bad about it, but it is what happens, I guess. (She's told me not to feel guilty, but I was baptized Catholic and I think guilt comes with the blessing.) We talk every few months or so, and do what women who have been friends since before we were women, and wives, and moms do-- help each other through aging parents and overwhelming sports schedules and what to do when the freezer and the stove die after a financially taxing winter and how we can't find a pair of shorts that fit us right. You know, the important stuff.

When we talked this winter, it came out that we were headed to Bozeman at the same time they were ending a trip to Yellowstone with her brother in law's family. You mean we're all going to be within 100 miles of each other? Seriously? She and I decided to invite them to Dr. Sister's house, and because sometimes Fate is a good friend to have, it all worked out. We spent the Fourth of July together-- 3 high school friends, 3 husbands who have become friends, and 8 kids (11, 10, 9, 8, 8, 15 mos and 9 mos), playing and laughing and talking and eating like we do this all the time. We visited the Museusm of the Rockies, a MSU museusm that houses actual dinosaur bones. We had a good old fashioned cook out and watched the fireworks outside the local Ho-Mart.

You, my loyal readers, know how important people are to me. I came out here to see our family, and sure, while we're here, let's see come of the cool things around too. But pictures of Wm. Clark's signature won't help you when your kid is witnessing bullying at school and is having nightmares. I am blessed to have lots of people in my corner, and to be in the corner of lots of people. And I take comfort in the knowledge that the Cookie Monster Fan Club has survived time and distance and all sorts of life changes, and when we do all get together (the last time was 8 years ago, in my parent's living room) it's like nothing at all has changed.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

No Sleep 'til BOZEMAN!*

I awoke to the awareness of WB not being squished beside me. One of the downsides to trying to sleep on the cheap is getting double bed rooms. WB and I enjoy our queen very much (hey, hey, this is a family show) but find doubles... squishy. But, for $50++ a night, what can I really expect? Anyhow, I hop up and get the day going. Only after we wake the kids and are heading out the door do I check my cell (another detail to cheap rooms-- no clocks!) and realize it's NOT EVEN 7 YET! Oy, today could kill me...

Drive through breakfast at the BK on the other side of the motel, and we're off. This is our first and only drive through meal of the trip, which is not as cheap as we could be, but a damn lot tastier. We drive across ND on I-94. 350 miles. Just under 5 hours, with one gas stop where (wait for it...) I WAS HANDED THE KEYS. Yes, folks, on our 3000-ish mile journey, I drove a whopping 150 miles. A few things about driving out here: the speed limit is 75. 75 is really bleeping fast. I guess that's really all I have to say about it. I was scared driving, and WB was scared riding (no slight on my abilities-- just he likes to be in control on the road and I don't). So when we crossed the boarder into Montana (!!!!!) and stopped for lunch in Glendive, he took the keys back as I happily passed them over.

At about 3:30 (mountain time--we'd crossed that line in ND) we stopped at Pompey's Pillar. It's a great National Monument with the only trail physical evidence of Lewis and Clark's incredible journey. We saw Clark's name carved in the sandstone, next to a bunch of other random Joe's and near native heiroglyphics. It was pretty amazing, actually. My students may see a Lewis and Clark unit next year...

Here is where the story gets a bit interesting. As we're leaving, we hear a crack of thunder behind us. "We're finished here just in time!" Back in the car, we leave the iPod off and search for NPR. We find a weather alert for Billings (where were we're going through to get here) announcing a serious storm that may have a funnel attached. Um, hello? See, as I was driving along earlier I announced that I don't think I'd ever like to be a storm chaser, because if the storm finds you, there's no place for you to hide. Right. Ok. Now what...

At this point the Boy in the backseat says "Are they talking about a tornado heading our way?" What followed was about 15 very stressful minutes where we pulled off in some town so small the left turn ended in a dirt road in 1/4 mile and the gas station didn't take cards. We got our last $20 in gas ($20.02 actually, because when it matters it's hard to hit it right on the head) and sat there for a few, trying to figure out what to do. We saw a storm chasing truck come to the intersection, drive a mile or so, and then pull over. "We could go ask him what he thinks...."

He had left by the time we got to him, but WB's assessment of the clouds said we should just push on and find an overpass to hide under if necessary. Not many of those around, but we'd think of something. The whole time we're trying to keep Boy calm in the back. WB is pointing to the trouble cloud-- a big C shaped bad boy that looked to be breaking apart. We get to the other side of Billings with no trouble, and Boy and I are audibly relieved. WB notes that he's pushing 80, just to be sure...

We land in Bozeman at 7, having tried to find dinner in Big Lumber but only saw what were probably great places that looked like you shouldn't bring young children in and expect them to be the same after. Dinner in a college town where they're used to people from away seemed the right plan for the day. Dinner at the local brewery was great (the wheat beer as good as the current one at SRBC) and we landed at my sister's a little past 8... to find them in a power outage. No showers or laundry, but the kids ran around outside and got re-aquainted. All is fine. As we were heading to bed, the power returned, and I jumped on the neighbors unlocked internet faster than you could say "good night!"

As I finish this, the box spring slid off it's boards and we went crashing. But we're ok! Bed fixed, WB asleep already, and I feel so much lighter for being able to share with you all. Thanks for caring enough to follow along. Sleep tight.

*again, who knows what print you'll get for this reference. But any and all of you who comment will get something. Many of you will end up with a mini-album by the time I'm done. Fine with me :)

a lot can happen in the middle of nowhere*

Due to lack of internet-ready rooms in Fargo, yesterday was a disconnected day. (Thanks, Beaner, for covering for me!) I could have walked around and found me some Wi-Fi, but WB encouraged the second margarita, so it was naptime instead. Here are the highlights, in case you care:

-- left Madison, WI on I-90/I-94 and made it around St. Paul/Minneapolis pretty easily... except for the weird jam heading out of the city. But we were playing Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady, so I was ok. (I'm too tired to link it now, but check it out if you like edgy punky stuff. I love 'em.)
-- drove across MN and saw a lot of farms. Girly started announcing white horse sightings. She has the cutest little voice...
-- drove by my Creative Memories warehouse in St. Cloud and a Budweiser plant. That made me want a margarita pretty badly.
-- made it to Fargo in time for dinner, and the Motel was right across from a Mexican place. Fate, or what?

*yes, yes, EVERYONE who gets the reference gets some picture I take. Either that or a burned copy of my favorite Hold Steady songs. Yea, I think that's the prize....

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

(I would ride) 500 miles*

WB revised our flight plan this morning, with our end point being Madison, WI. It was an 8 hour drive (not counting traffic in Chicago), and Gramma S. and my Fabulous Uncle graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, so a brief visit was almost mandatory.

We accomplished the goal. After showers and breakfast, we hit I-90 at 11 AM. Ohio went on... followed by Indiana and Illinois. Driving through the heart of Chi-town was not fun. Especially at 4:30 PM. We landed in Madison at 8 PM. The kids had earned a swim, and then we had dinner and found the campus. Sadly, it was 9:30 by then, and our tour would not make Dori or Camille's short list of greatest college tours ever, except that we went out of our way to take our kids to a campus at 9:30 at night. They saw the library... and some buildings we couldn't identify. I wish we could have poked around, but that will have to wait for another trip.

Tomorrow's destination is Fargo, ND. You betcha!

*Mike, I can't toss you an easier softball. Hit it outta the park already!