Home, Sweet Home

Thursday was the final day of our epic road trip, and it was the most uneventful. I’m grateful for that! As happy as I was to get home so I could rest, a huge part of me wished I was still in Colorado.  I don’t think I could ever become jaded to that view!

We were gone on our trip for seven days and six nights. We drove a total of 3,530 miles in ten different states (Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky). I was blessed with the opportunity to see family and friends I hadn’t seen in many, many years; Sam got to add another state (New Mexico) to the growing list of states he’s visited; and Seth got to visit several new states. We were all in awe of the raw beauty of the Rocky Mountains, and we were all equally sad to leave them.

Now that I’ve gotten out of my stay-at-home funk that I’ve been in for 12+ years, I’m hoping to do more traveling in the near future. So, stay tuned for tales of more adventures!

 

Boring Day

I expected Wednesday to be a very dull and boring day, and it probably was the least-exciting day of our week-long trip. It started out by leaving our hotel before daylight to try to get a head start on the day. Then, as I drove east, the rising sun was shining directly into my eyes for better than an hour. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open, but it didn’t blind me too much to see and appreciate the interesting cloud formation in the photo above.

The aspect of the day that I most dreaded was the long drive across the boring nothingness of the state of Kansas (excepting, of course, the spectacular cloud formation above). Mile after mile of …. nothing. A young man we met in Topeka confirmed our suspicions of there being nothing to do around there.

Speaking of Topeka, just as we were coming up on that city, the car made a little jolt and starting making a horrible banging sound. I pulled over as quickly as I safely could. A quick look under the hood revealed the problem. A spark plug had broken! Thankfully, there was an auto parts store at the nearby exit, where I was able to purchase a new spark plug, and Seth was able to borrow the proper tools to install it. Then, after we stopped at a Chick-fil-A for lunch, we were back on our way, good as new.

As I’ve said, other than the broken spark plug, driving through Kansas was dull and boring. That can not be said about Missouri. As soon as we crossed over the state line, we were at a standstill on the interstate. It took us nearly two hours to travel the first 35 miles in the state. First, there was an accident. Then, there was a bit of construction. Throughout it all, there was a LOT of traffic. By the time we made it to St. Louis, after delays due to the spark plug and the KC traffic, it was too dark for the boys to see the Arch. Maybe we’ll go back there again before too long, hopefully in the daylight.

At long last, we reached our destination, which was the home of my friend Mike, in central Illinois. I felt horrible getting there as late as we did, but I was too happy to see Mike to worry about it much.

 

Golden Day

On Tuesday, Sam, Seth, and I went out exploring. One of the places we visited was my favorite town…Golden. The town is small, quaint, picturesque, nostalgic….in other words, perfect. We parked at a park where McKenna was fascinated by the geese hovering near the creek flowing by. We walked around the town some, looking at the interesting businesses lining the quaint streets. We were there at lunchtime and decided to eat at a place called Old Capitol Grill. Sam ordered a BBQ combo plate, and Seth and I both had bison burgers. The food there was delicious!

When we left Golden, we went to Boulder and walked around the Pearl Street Mall. There, I found the souvenir I was looking for…a gold-plated Aspen leaf pendant. I bought myself one when I was in Colorado 15 years ago, but sometime since then I lost it, and I’ve wanted another one ever since. I wanted to take a picture of this unique shopping place, but it was raining the whole time we were there. Nonetheless, I found this photo online that captures it the way I saw it, minus the rain.

The boys expressed interest in going hiking, but the rain negated that idea. So, from Boulder we headed to downtown Denver and the 16th Street Mall (which is similar to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder). Because of the rain, we nixed that idea and headed back to our hotel in Castle Rock. While the boys went to visit a friend of Sam’s who lives there, I fell fast asleep. With all the walking I did, at an altitude I’m not used to, I was exhausted; and I had to get up very early the next morning to get back on the road again.

Day of Adventure

Monday was a day full of adventure. My friend Julie Vaughan, who I know from Macon, GA, took me all over and was a delightful tour guide. Our first stop was the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder. That was a sensory pleasure! The aroma of tea, herbs, and spices was a delight to the senses. In the tasting room, were many varieties of tea to be tested, and we could drink as much as we wanted. I tried a little of each flavor, and my favorite was Almond Sunset. On the tour of the plant, we got to go into the Peppermint Room. I loved it! The sweet, yet pungent, smell of peppermint awakened my senses and cleared my sinuses. I could have stayed all day in that one room. After our tour, we ate in the cafe at the plant. We had chicken salad croissants that were very tasty.

From Boulder, we went back south to the Garden of the Gods. I could spend all day there! The beauty is unparalleled. The stark red rocks with a background of blue sky, green grass, and the Rocky Mountains are wondrous to behold. The next time I’m here, I am going to dedicate one whole day to the Garden of the Gods.

In the evening, Sam and Seth joined us at Julie’s house where we were blessed to have dinner with Julie, John, and Jacqueline. McKenna also joined us there and had a little trouble making friends with Sierra and Farley.

 

Mother’s Day

I’m a couple days late in making this post, but I have good excuses. On Sunday evening, when we got checked into the hotel, I attempted to write a blog post, but I couldn’t figure out how to connect to the wifi. I was probably too tired to think clearly. Once I ate dinner, I lay on the bed to rest a little, and I fell asleep, not to awaken until morning. The next night, I was worn out! I had a very adventurous day, and I think the altitude contributed to my sleepiness.

So….Sunday…. We traveled from Seminole, OK, to Castle Rock, CO. In planning the trip, I had chosen the route suggested by my Maps app, which would take us north from OKC, into Kansas, and then west to Colorado. Looking at the app on Saturday night, I realized that it would add only a few minutes to our trip if we went west through the Texas panhandle and the northeast corner of New Mexico. When I mentioned it to Sam and Seth, it was unanimous that we should take the second route instead; and it was a great choice. Sam was thrilled to be back in his birth state, and it was the first time for both him and Seth to be in New Mexico. The landscapes we saw were awe-inspiring, and the closer we got to Colorado, the more magnificent they became. The first sight of the Rockies was a wondrous experience.

By and large, the day was uneventful. We made good time and made it to our destination before dark, so that we were able to see what a beautiful area it is.

Cousin of the Groom

The wedding was beautiful. It was outside, at a farm. We had to drive down a long dirt road to get to it, and at one point I just knew I had somehow missed it and was about to turn around when Seth pointed out the next “Wedding” sign that let us know we were still on the right track.

It was so good seeing my cousin Allen (a.k.a. Neil) again, and I was delighted to meet his gorgeous bride Stephanie. I hadn’t seen Allen since I was about 10 or 11, but he reminds me so much of my Uncle Neil that I think I would have known him anywhere. I’ve talked with Stephanie some on Facebook, and it was so nice to finally meet in person. Don’t they make a beautiful couple?!

I’ve seen outdoor weddings before, but never one with hay bales for seating. What an ingenous idea! They were practical and more comfortable than some chairs, not to mention the fact that they fit in so well with their surroundings. (I confess…the real reason I liked sitting on the hay was because I finally found a place to sit where my feet could touch the ground instead of dangling.)

In the wedding, they incorporated the old custom of handfasting. I had heard of it before, but I’m not sure if I had ever seen it. It’s a very sweet picture of uniting with each other in marriage.

The boys enjoyed the wedding, though probably not as much as I did. What they enjoyed most was the ribs we had for dinner afterward. McKenna got to enjoy a few rib bones as well, so it was a good day for all. We all agreed that we were glad we were able to attend.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a selfie with my cousin, since who knows when I’ll ever see him again. So, here we are. Congratulations, Neil and Stephanie. I love you both!

 

Home, Home on the Range

File_000I always think of that song when I’m in Oklahoma. I guess it’s because of the line, “…and the skies are not cloudy all day.” The sky here is gorgeous today! Such a brilliant blue with a smattering of fluffy white clouds.

Since there is so much to tell about today, I’m going to write two posts…this one and another one after the wedding. As I did yesterday, I am going to tell about my day by listing things I have to praise God for.

  1. WHATABURGER!! Sam and I have been looking forward to getting Whataburger, and it did not disappoint. The burgers were just as good as we remembered them, and Seth was impressed with his first-ever Whataburger.
  2. I was able to purchase two new tires for my car. I went to Walmart, and they got the new tires on quickly and for a decent price.
  3. My car has a manual transmission. (I forgot to mention this one yesterday.) At some point yesterday morning, my starter went out, but I have had no problems getting it going by popping the clutch as the boys push it a little ways.
  4. The gas has been much cheaper than I had anticipated (and budgeted for). This morning, I filled up for only $1.91/gal, and that was without any sort of discount.
  5. We took McKenna to the park to get some exercise. It did us all good, after spending all day yesterday cooped up in the car.

After getting the new tires, I drove around for a while. I surprised myself by finding my Grandma’s old house with no problem. Well, I had to drive past it a couple times before I recognized it because it has become so grown over with foilage. Seeing that house brought back many fond memories of visits in years past.

Well, it’s time for me to get ready for the wedding. Tune in again later tonight for a continuation of today’s adventures.

On the Road Again

I’ve always been a traveler…well, until about 14 years ago. Up to that point, I had been to 42 states, but since then I’ve been hardly anywhere. Today that changed. Sam and I have set off on our first cross-country road trip in a long time. We crossed the Mississippi for the first time in 14 years, and Sam’s friend Seth, who is traveling with us, saw the Mississippi for the first time ever.

Despite our excitement for this long-awaited trip, today was a less-than-ideal travel day. Still, I have several reasons to praise God, and here are a few of them:

  1. We made it safely to our destination, which is Seminole, Oklahoma.
  2. It didn’t rain ALL day. During the few non-rainy hours, the weather was as perfect as possible for traveling.
  3. I was the one driving when we blew a tire, no one was hurt during the incident, Sam and Seth were able to get the spare tire put on, and it happened during one of the few times when it wasn’t raining.
  4. Sam was able to drive some, allowing me to not have to drive all the 932 miles myself. He’s a good, safe driver, so the rest of us were able to relax while he was behind the wheel. In the photos below, Seth was conked out in the front seat, and McKenna was sprawled out on the back seat, squeezing me into a little corner between him and the door.

 

     

McKenna was a source of both frustration and humor. He kept trying to get up front to sit on either Seth’s head or my lap. Since my car is a wagon, I thought he would enjoy lying down in the back area behind the back seat; but he couldn’t seem to decide whether to sit back there or on the seat. So, quite often, as I would look in the rearview mirror, I would see him in a position like the one in the  first picture below, undecided about whether to sit on the seat or go all the way to the back. Finally, toward the end of the day, he calmed down enough to sit still for quite some time, just looking out the window.

 

 

 

Traveling Buddy

If you followed my old blog, you may remember my post “Meet McKenna” in which I introduced the newest member of our family, a bona fide mutt. At the time of that writing, he was only six weeks old. Now, he’s nearly a year old. Although he is technically still a puppy, he is large. And…he’s going on our roadtrip with us. This should be fun!

I took the photo on the left to show how much he has grown since we got him. Since a picture cannot capture his personality, I’m also including the video below. McKenna is usually a total sweetheart, but he hates to be reprimanded. He cuts me off with barking so I cannot continue getting on to him because he knows he is completely in the wrong. As you enjoy the video, image what it’s going to be like traveling across the country with this brat for a week. 😉

Back to Blogging

Last year, I stopped blogging for a while. Then, I started this new blog, but my heart wasn’t in it. After only a couple posts, I stopped writing. Well, I’m back!

In one week, Sam and I will be taking off on a roadtrip, something we haven’t done in quite a while. As exciting as that prospect is, the most exciting thing to me is that it will be our first trip west of the Mississippi since we moved to Bristol 14 years ago. It’s hard to believe we’ve been here that long without making a westward trip.

Since I’m expecting this trip to be epic, I intend to chronicle it here in my blog. To that end, I’m trying to get back in the practice of writing. Stay tuned for some interesting (I hope) posts in the near future!