Monday, July 26, 2010

"Griswoldlike"


Oh my! I hardly know how to begin. Last Wednesday I jumped on (I actually walked on) a flight from DFW to Washington Reagan and was picked up by my aunt in her "classic" 1988 chevy sedan. ( not sure what model and not sure it's a classic ) We proceeded to the "airplane viewing" parking lot and met my uncle who was sitting in the shade keeping an eye on the U-Haul that was loaded with their belongings.
Long story short, they built a house in Minnesota about 3 years ago and have finally sold their home in DC. I had volunteered to help them get the rest of their belongings back to MN a few months back and the time had come! It actually was a pretty good plan. I would fly out and help them get their things to MN and then stay for a family reunion and then fly back to Dallas.
I have never lacked confidence when it comes to road trips, so I hopped out of the car in the parking lot and threw my suitcase in the U-Haul and basically said,"Let's hit the road". We pulled out of the parking lot with the two of them in the lead in their "classic" car. We merged onto the parkway and headed out towards 270 at 4:30 p.m. About this time I realized that the rear view mirror was a sign the said,"9 foot clearance" and that I would have to trust the very large side mirrors for the next 2 days. But not to be discouraged, I sat up a little taller and mustered up all my self-confidence and joined the erratic traffic that would be my companion until we pulled off the road about 1 1/2 hours later to grab some dinner. Nothing like getting comfortable driving a U-Haul in rush hour in DC.
Let me just stop here and tell you the order of our restaurant stops along the way, just because I know you will be fascinated. 1 - Bob Evans (dinner) 2 - McDonald's (breakfast) 3 - McDonald's (lunch) 4 - Starbucks (10 steps from McDonald's lunch) 5 - Baker's Square (dinner)6 - Super 8 (complimentary breakfast - cheerios or corn flakes - What a selection!) 7 - Burger King (lunch) 8 - Never mind, we were to anxious to get to our destination that we skipped dinner. By now I imagine you are all wishing you could have joined me for this culinary tour. I would have offered you tums.
I might just as well go ahead and tell you that the first night the Motel 6 had bedspreads with pictures of buildings and vehicles on them and a chair with a table that resembled something used in an interrogation room. We stepped it up on the second night at a Super 8. (Does the quality of a room have something to do with number behind it?) The 8 was at least 1/2 a step up from the 6.
My two days of cross country driving where interrupted by three extremely long interstate delays during which I could have written a short novel; way too many gas stops to fill the tank of an extremely hungry U-Haul; and as I referred to earlier, the varied culinary delights along the way.
There is nothing quite like following a single car across a third of the United States for a bit over 2 days. It was sort of like the movie "Ground Hog Day". At each state line I picked up a toll ticket and proceeded across the state where I would pay the toll and then practice my high speed merge only to get another toll ticket a few miles down the road. Repetition! That is what this road trip was all about.
Truth be told, I am thankful that we had no real issues. There will always be construction and traffic and fast food that gets tiresome, but no car problems, flat tires, break downs or the like. We made it safe and sound. 1293 miles of forward motion.
After what seemed to be a pretty short night of sleep at my folks house, it was off to help unload "the beast" at my aunt and uncle's new house. When we arrived they had opened the back end of the U-Haul and as I peered inside to see what I had transported across the countryside, I did my best to hide my surprise when I saw the half-filled truck. It took us ONE hour to unpack what it had taken me a little over 2 days to drive. ( The first load I carried into the house was the largest bag of old hangers I have ever seen. Let me just leave it at that. )
Later on Saturday, my folks and I went to a beautiful park that had been reserved for our family reunion on my dad's side of the family. I found a nice shady spot to sit with lots of extended family members all around and did nothing but catch up on all that had been going on in their lives and relish the fact that I would not be driving home to TX. And now I'm HOME!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The lazy, hazy, days of summer.

After a respite from the heat, we are back in it again here in Texas. While the temperatures were certainly cooler in Montana, the blanket of mosquitoes that surrounded us distracted us some. Those pesky little things sure can stir up some serious annoyance on my part. Usually by early July, it is so dry that you hardly notice them, but this year with the cooler temperatures and rain, it was very lush and green and I guess the perfect breeding ground for the little pests.

But, truth be told, we had an incredible vacation. We did a little 4-wheeling, some fly fishing, lots of eating, and even caught a couple of the world cup games. We get 3 channels and fortunately one of them is ABC. We missed Karl as his project at NIST is going full steam ahead and he just couldn't get away. He will get his turn in October for the opening of pheasant hunting.

The ranch is now my favorite place to entertain. It is a place of simplicity and ease. No fancy dishes, or gadgets, just the basics. We hardly have a picture on the walls. It is a place where you feel comfortable putting your feet up on the furniture and kicking back. A friend of ours got it right. He said it is a place where you seem to be able to squeeze 2 days into one, and boy did we!