Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 2 – Friday – June 26, 2015

0630 Alarm goes off.
0650 Kids are up and getting ready to go.
0753 Time to tally up our license plates from yesterday – 35 + Alberta, Canada
0833 Leaving the Purdy’s house
0840 Starbucks
0849 The GPS is confusing me.  But I’m going to go ahead and trust it that it knows the best route.
0904 Second cow sighting of the trip
0914 Buddy’s Diner
0930 Sudden heavy downpour and then stops just as suddenly
0946 Train
1023 Crumpled can sculpture at the recycling center
1029 Blue sky – first time today
1046 Dan River
1107 North Carolina state line
1116 Quebec license plate
12:02 p.m. Neal John Deere Tractor Museum sign
12:07 p.m. Stop at Cookout for lunch.  Apparently this is a drive-thru only restaurant (unlike the one in Knoxville) so we have to find a park to eat lunch in.
12:29 p.m. Train horn scares me to death!!!
12:32 p.m. “Picnic” along the tracks, sitting in the car.  Can’t find any parks nearby.  In front of us is an Oregon license plate.  Across the street is a school called Brittain Academy.  As we look at it longer, we realize it is abandoned.  Online reviews are mixed but nothing mentions the fact that the school is closed.  We decide that it would fit perfectly in a Scooby Doo movie – a haunted school.
12:50 p.m. Walk to see the giant chair – the World’s Largest Duncan Phyfe Chair.  Along the way, Ryan checks the sign on the door of the school.  It is a flyer for mental therapeutic services.
1:07 p.m. Leaving Thomasville.  The kids vote to skip the courthouse museum in Lexington.  I was planning to stop because I thought it would be similar to the courtroom of To Kill A Mockingbird.  Giant Mattress wins over random old courtroom.
1:25 p.m. Carolina Aviation Museum sign – maybe next time.
1:29 p.m. See the giant Daniel Boone roadside statue as we drive past on the highway – don’t even have to stop.
1:31 p.m. Washington license plate
1:39 p.m. North Carolina Transportation Museum sign
2:30 p.m. Gaston County
2:38 p.m. Gas, $2.56 in Gastonia.  Current temperature is 97 degrees with a heat index of 108 degrees!  The car display says 101 degrees.  Too hot!
3:12 p.m. South Carolina state line
3:26 p.m. Giant Peach water tower
3:27 p.m. Cherokee Hills Scenic Road and Cowpens battlefield signs
4:27 p.m. There’s a guy standing on the overpass holding a confederate flag.
4:31 p.m. Baby cows riding in a trailer
4:44 p.m. Savannah River Scenic Highway sign
4:52 p.m. Georgia state line
5:38 p.m. Made it to the mattress store – home of the World’s Largest Mattress.  Fun to jump on and cool furniture to look at too.
6:30 p.m. Beef O’Brady’s for dinner.  See highlights of a World cup game but have to leave before the US game starts
6:34 p.m. Sunset over the Atlanta airport
8:40 p.m. US scores against China (game highlights via text message from Ron)
8:53 p.m. GPS sunset
9:03 p.m. FDR State Park – home of the Little White House
9:39 p.m. Alabama state line and Chattahoochee River but no time change

9:43 p.m. Hotel.  Finally.  What a long day!  Note to self – 9+hours of drive time = 13+ hours of total travel time!  My poor, tired, swollen feet…

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 1 – Thursday – June 25, 2015

0911 Leaving.  Beginning mileage is 172,459.  Temperature is a nice 75 degrees.
0920 Stopping at McD’s because I’m hungry and forgot to eat breakfast.  And because I like McD’s breakfast!
0947 On Highway 29 south and have encountered our first traffic jam.  Construction.
1006 Our first entry in the license plate game – West Virginia
1009 Maryland license plate
1011 Lots of notes… my secretary (Ryan) is feeling overworked! ;)  First cows have been sighted – it’s officially a road trip now!
1012 North Carolina and Pennsylvania license plates
1015 First roadkill of the trip – a dead raccoon.
1017 MooThru drive-thru restaurant.  Real ice cream from real dairy farmers.  Follow the herd!
1018 New York license plate
1019 Rappahannock River
1033 See a sign for Montpelier – President Madison’s house.  We’ll have to come here sometime.  It’s really close to home!
1044 Washington DC license plate
1118 New Jersey license plate
1122 Firehouse Subs for lunch in Charlottesville.  The car parked in front of us has an Alaska license plate!
1155 Lunch is done and we’re back on the road.  Ryan tried the Level 10 crazy hot sauce.
12:00 p.m. Waffle House.  We pass them all the time but have never been to one.  It seems like Waffle House followers are part of a cult.  What sort of initiation is required?  I’m pretty sure the first visit has to be at midnight or later.
12:02 p.m. Illinois and Georgia license plates
12:07 p.m. Arizona license plate
12:14 p.m. Passed Michie Tavern.  Another historic sight I didn’t know existed.
12:17 p.m. Monticello parking lot.  Lots of good license plates here – Alabama, Ohio, Tennessee, and Massachusetts
2:47 p.m. Leaving Monticello. Our significant items from this visit (can be a fact, a favorite part, or just anything that was memorable about the stop) are:
Ryan – the double-faced clock
Felisa – the various floor-plan pictures in the visitors’ center
Bella – the alcove beds
Sheila – that he sold his books to pay his debts and then bought more books, creating new debt
Before we leave the parking lot, we drive though, “fishing” for more license plates.  We found Utah, Connecticut, California, Indiana, South Carolina, Missouri, Florida, Wisconsin, Alberta, Delaware, Mississippi, Michigan, Texas, Maine, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Arkansas.
3:01 p.m.  Stopped at Michie Tavern to take a picture.
3:30 p.m. Goochland County
4:00 p.m. James River
4:17 p.m. Gas, $2.45.  Current temperature is 90 degrees.
4:35 p.m. Allie’s house!

Richard made yummy baked ziti for dinner and Allie made a birthday cake for dessert.  At bedtime a big thunderstorm with hail rolled through.  I might not be allowed to come back – I seem to bring a lot of bad weather when I come!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Thanksgiving

Last week Felisa drew a picture of all the Thanksgiving foods, including something called Kirby.  When I asked her about it she said, "If you sat at the kids' table you would know." I love that! I love that they have special Thanksgiving memories of their own.

Julie, a friend of mine, is an Australian living in the States at the moment. She recently commented on Facebook that she was finally going to be at a regular American Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house. When I read that, I instantly felt so sad for her. Thanksgiving to me is all about the people; more is better.  We travelled some as a kid to have Thanksgiving with my dad's family in Illinois and I have lots of great memories from those holidays together. We were (and still are) a military family so we moved a lot and didn't always have the chance to drive to Grandma's. On the years we stayed home, our door was always open to anyone we knew that didn't have a dinner to host or attend.  We have been fortunate since living in California to be able to travel to New Mexico to celebrate Thanksgiving with Ron's family.

I can't imagine a Thanksgiving dinner with just our core immediate family. All that work to prepare a meal and no other friends or family to share it with? How sad that would be, at least to me. So you can see why I felt sad that Julie hadn't been invited anywhere the first couple years. I can only hope that I am always aware and proactive in future years to notice anyone without a dinner invite so that I can invite them to celebrate with us any time we are not travelling for the holiday.  After all, what's Thanksgiving without friends and family and laughter? A few years ago we celebrated at Shani's house. The kids were downstairs while the adults were gathered around the table. Later my kids complained that the adults had been making way too much noise and laughing so much. Really?  Sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving to me!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

On military life

The hard goodbyes and wonderful hellos of the military life...

A comment made by a friend on Facebook, a career Naval officer currently serving a (recently extended) remote duty tour on Diego Garcia.  It just really struck me and resonated for me.  So true.  The goodbyes are so hard but the trade off is all the wonderful hellos that you never would've had otherwise.  A hard life in many ways and yet a blessed way of life too.  I am grateful to have had so many wonderful experiences and seen so many places thanks in part to the nomadic military life I have lived, first as a dependent, then as an active service member, and now as a dependent once again.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Friendship Quote

A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often - just to save it from drying out completely.
-Pam Brown

Friday, September 27, 2013

Day 10 (full version)

Day 10 – Thursday – July 4, 2013

 0630 Wake up.  Get dressed right away so I can get Rocco out for a potty break.  He still won’t go. I think maybe he’s still nervous from the fireworks last night.  Then  we spot some elk cruising through town, enjoying their breakfast and it’s a hopeless case.  He just won’t pee! So back to the cabin to see if anyone else is up yet.

0700 Felisa is up so she comes with me to walk Rocco again.  I have once again just about given up hope when he finally decides to pee.  Whew.  Talk about bladder of steel!

0800 Stop at the local small market to pick up some food.  We got fruit, muffins, hot dogs, bread and ice.

0820 Stop in town to get some coffee.

0840 Mammoth Hot Springs.  Mmm… smell the sulfur!

0855 Visitor Center.  We take turns going in and waiting outside with Rocco.  While I was outside I saw a 4th of July parade across the street in the lodge parking lot.  Rocco’s favorite part of this stop was sniffing the elk poop in the park.  What did we learn here?

Felisa – Otherwise known as song dogs, coyotes communicate through howls, yelps, and woofs.

Ryan – Elk cows give birth away from the herd and stay away for 2 weeks until the babies are strong enough to keep up with the herd.  They keep the calves hidden while they graze during this time.

Bella – Mountain lions eat bison and elk and sometimes also porcupines and marmots.

0930 We are on the road towards Old Faithful.

0937 Decide to drive through the Mammoth Hot Springs upper terrace on the way.  It definitely smells like sulfur up here!

0948 Orange Mound

0951 Angel Terrace.  Lots of dead trees here.

0952 Leaving the Upper Terrace Drive.

1009 Obsidian Cliff

1015 Roaring Mountain.  The 1988 forest fire burn area is across the street.

1034 Norris Geyser Basin.  Rocco and I hang around the parking lot while Ron and the kids go check it out.  It’s not too bad when we first arrive but the longer we wait, the crazier it gets in the parking lot.  Too many people and not enough spots.

1130 Leaving Norris.  They were able to see examples of all the main types of geothermal features – steam vents, hot springs, mud pots, and geysers.  What did we learn?
Felisa – Mud pots are sometimes called paint pots when minerals tint the mud various colors.
Ryan – Pork Chop was a friendly hot spring named for its shape.  In 1971 it turned into a continuous steam vent.  In 1985 it erupted violently shooting out lots of debris and has continued  to occasionally erupt since then.  Pork Chop is not so friendly anymore…
Bella – Hot springs are the most common geothermal feature in Yellowstone.

Our favorite parts of Norris:
Felisa and Ryan –the colors
Bella – the orange and green creek
Ron – Porcelain Geyser

1134 Elk Park

12:04 p.m. Fountain Paint Pot – a busy area so we didn’t stop but from the road it looks like a small colorful geyser.

12:12 p.m. Biscuit Basin

12:15 p.m. Passing Old Faithful.  We are worried about being able to find a campsite for tonight so we decide to skip Old Faithful and head for the campground.   We’ll come back up later in the day.

12:25 p.m. Continental Divide, Craig Pass, 8262 feet

12:33 p.m. Continental Divide, 8391 feet

12:44 p.m. Continental Divide, 7988 feet

12:56 p.m. Lewis Lake Campground.  The campground is pretty full already but we find a spot and get set up.  The group before us were total litterbugs. This place is a mess! After lunch Ron and the kids take Rocco for a walk and then we all relax a little. Ron takes the girls down to swim at the lake while Ryan and I stay at the camp with Rocco to read.  After a bit we hear thunder.  Not long after the swimmers are back.

5:13 The car is packed back up with our food and other items we don’t want to leave sitting out while we drive back across the park to see Old Faithful.

5:22 p.m. Continental Divide, 7988 feet

5:32 p.m. Continental Divide, 8391 feet. People are in front of the sign so I don’t get a picture.

5:43 p.m. Continental Divide, 8262 feet. I got a picture but it’s raining so not sure it will turn out.

5:55 p.m. Old Faithful parking.  It’s raining here too. We have arrived at a good time.  We can look around the visitors’ center for a bit before Old Faithful’s next predicted eruption.  I was worried we would have arrived just after an eruption and have to wait a long time.

6:47 p.m. There she blows! The estimated time was 6:39.  The show lasted 3 minutes.  We stood in the rain for at least 30 minutes waiting for the eruption but now we’ve all seen it and can check it off the bucket list. Even Rocco got to see it but he had to wait off to the side since he wasn’t allowed in the official viewing area.  He had a better seat though, at least for the waiting time, because he stayed dry under a tree!  After the eruption Ron took the kids shopping at the general store while Rocco and I went back to the car.

7:20 p.m. Leaving Old Faithful area.  As we drive back to camp there is a full double rainbow.  So awesome!

7:52 p.m. Finally got a picture of the Continental Divide sign.  We have crossed the Continental Divide 9 times today!

8:02 p.m. Back at the campsite. Throw together a quick dinner of franks-n-beans.  The rain held off but there are 6 million billion bazillion mosquitoes swarming us. It’s awful!  We start a fire hoping to scare them off with the smoke and we’re all covered head-to-toe and nothing we do seems to be thwarting them.  Our last defense – hide in the tent!

9:45 p.m. All of us are bedded down for the night.  No one is sleepy but it’s the only way to avoid the mosquitoes!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Stand by for a session full of woe-is-me full-on whining.  It ain't pretty but sometimes I just gotta get it out.  World's tiniest violin, stand by!
1.  I have no energy.
I have no energy because I am not eating right. I also have no energy TO eat right.  Rock, meet hard place.  Hard place, meet Rock.
2.  I also feel lacking in the focus and motivation departments.  I suspect this is closely tied to #1 above.
3.  My photoshop program won't activate.  Because it's too old.  But I need the program to edit photos for a client's scrapbook project which is so far past deadline I can no longer even see the deadline in my rear-view mirror.  Also, the photo editing is one of the few off-line tasks I can accomplish when sitting in my home-away-from-home-old-faithful-God-love-it-minivan while waiting for my precious offspring to partake in the activities du jour.  I need to be productive while waiting in the parking lot because...
4.  I have no time.
Actually, I probably do have time.  What I really have is a time management problem.  This is a recurring theme for me and not really sure what the answer is to this.  It is also related to #1 and #2 above.  Sometimes I stand in my house thinking to myself that I have so many things I should be doing and I don't know where to start.  And then I give up and go back to bed to play games on my iPad.  See- time MANAGEMENT problems.   Lack of focus and lack of motivation and lack of energy also.
5.  My better half is halfway around the world.  None of these problems are new and he cannot solve any of these problems (well, maybe the photoshop problem.  And I've just emailed him about that.  He should be awake in another hour or two and I'm sure he will be quite happy(!) to see a cheerful computer problems email waiting for him.), however these problems seem easier to bear when there is a living, breathing, more-responsible-than-I, adult sleeping next to me.
6.  I'm feeling in limbo. 
Again.  Or still.  We have been here for two full years.  It is now our last year before we move again.  Which means it is time to start disengaging while also trying to experience all the "last time we will do (blank)" here.  But I also feel like there isn't much to disengage from since I never got fully engaged to begin with.  Not enough time.  Not so much interest from most of the people around us.  I feel like I have 2 friends that will miss me perhaps a tiny bit (and who I will miss and will be happy to have added to my lifetime of friends list).  And lots of acquaintances for whom we are just a blip on the radar.  It is time to look forward to what's next.  I find myself feeling ambivalent about what's next.  We're going back to somewhere we lived before.  I've never done that before.  I'm not sure how it works.  I feel like I should be excited (and would've been excited a year ago probably) but I'm not.  I'll be glad to see a few of my bestest friends again but that's it.  Everything else feels like a take-it-or-leave-it.  Which seems strange considering how hard it was to leave just 2 years (and a couple months) ago.
 7.  My house looks like a bomb exploded.  A really BIG bomb.  See #1, 2, and 3 above.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  Something along the lines of "life is hard so quitcher whinin' and get on with it already!"  The dishwasher is broken (still - since sometime last spring) and I have a pile of clean laundry in the living room and several piles of dirty laundry in the laundry room.  The floor hasn't been cleaned in months.  My carpet is dog-hair colored decorated with bits of string chewed off of Rocco's rope toys and littered with very sharp nylon bones.  But on the plus side, I made birthday snacks to take to school for Bella's birthday yesterday and got every one of them to every scheduled activity mostly on time and fed them dinner.  But that's ALL I managed to accomplish and that's just not enough.  I'm losing ground.  Sinking slowly in the quicksand of life.
8.  It's time to drive Bella to art and Ryan to guitar (where I will NOT be editing photos thanks for nothing you rotten photoshop) and back to art to pick up Bella then home for a nutritious dinner of beanie weenies and bakery-sale-rack corn muffins.  Then drive Ryan to church for a Boy scout service activity.  Then home again probably then back to pick him up an hour later.
But #8 is good news because that means the whine-fest is over!  Whew.  Such a fun ride, no?  Now move along people.  Nothing to see here...  move along...

Friday, September 06, 2013

How Quickly We Forget

So...  I was just cleaning out my email inbox of old, long-forgotten, and now mostly irrelevant, email messages.  I found a note, sent to myself, of an idea for a blog post.  My note was: How Quickly We Forget.  I find it completely hilarious that I now have absolutely no idea what I was worried about forgetting and have now forgotten.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Words from the teenager

"It's boring being dead."
- Ryan
(Thoughts on being the first one out of the game and having to sit watching the rest of the game)

*family game night!*

Monday, August 12, 2013

School Supply Shopping

S: Time to go.
R: But I haven't had breakfast yet.
S: Well then get to it.
R: Why do we have to do it today?
B: I've been waiting for weeks!
R:But if you do it today you'll have a big black hole in your schedule for the rest of the week.  Nothing to look forward to.  Nothing to do.
S: She can sit around admiring all her new supplies.
R: Noooooo! You should just dream about all the cool stuff you're not going to get and we can go another day.
B: I've already been doing that for a month!
S: It's time to stop dreaming and take action!  Let's go!

Added note:  I offered to pick out all his supplies for him.  He declined.  Though perhaps now he is wishing to change his mind...