Thursday, October 19, 2017

Road Trip, Part 3

I'm sure you'll be sad that I don't have a lot of pictures from the trip home:(  We left Wisconsin early Friday morning and got home Saturday afternoon, so it was a lot of driving time.  We listened to another book, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, and we also squeezed in a few fun stops along the way.

On the way through Iowa, I about had a panic attack because I didn't realize we were driving right through the Amana Colonies -- and we really didn't have time to stop. The colonies are made up of seven villages settled by German Pietists in 1855. There are more craft and artisan shops than I've ever seen in my life.  Someday . . . perhaps we'll drive through again and plan to visit.

In the meantime, we drove to the western edge of Iowa, to Madison County. It was a cloudy, sometimes drizzly afternoon, but very pretty just the same.  We drove through the countryside and saw a few of the covered bridges, including the Rosemont Bridge which was featured in the book and movie, Bridges of Madison County.

We also stopped in the town of Winterset to see the John Wayne birthplace and museum. As someone who grew up watching John Wayne movies with my three brothers, this was exciting for me! I texted my brothers some pictures and told them, "I'm on hallowed ground!" 

Here's the little house he was born in.  Isn't it cute? That's Dan on the porch and he just made it through the door without bumping his head.

Yes, I'm smiling big time. The museum contains things from his movies, as well as a lot of personal items.  It really gave me a sense of his character and the values that he held dear. Some of my favorite things included his datebook -- his handwriting was just beautiful and so even -- and his address book. The address book was open to the page for Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Just below their listing was the name and phone number for the washing machine repair man.  

This is the jaunting cart from the movie The Quiet Man.  Maureen O'Hara kept it after the movie and later donated it to the museum. They also have the shawl that she wore in the movie, which was a gift from her mother. I won't bore you with all the pictures I took -- the saddle from The Cowboys, the shirt from She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. You get the idea;)

After staying the night in Council Bluffs, we drove pretty much straight through on the way home, but we made one more stop in Lincoln, Nebraska.  It has a huge barn filled with antiques, and about a dozen grain bins that have been turned into little sheds filled with more antiques. It was fun to poke around for a while, and I found an old wash bin to buy that will set on my back porch filled with flowers.

It was such a good trip, and SO good to get home!

Road Trip, Part 2

Wow, I can't believe it's Thursday already. My plan was to get all three parts of our road trip up by the end of the week. I should have known better, as it's been a busy week getting back into the groove here.

We arrived at Luke and Miranda's house on Sunday afternoon. It was so good to see their sweet faces! We saw them six months ago, but kids change so much in that time! Sawyer will be two in December. He's such a peanut, but with his big boy haircut he looks older:(

Siefer (pronounced with a long "i") has such enthusiasm for everything in life! At three and a half, she enjoys herself and was eager to show us everything. We decided that with all the driving we had done on the trip out -- and because long drives are no fun for one-year-olds and three-year-olds -- we would stay close to home and enjoy doing everyday kinds of things that we don't get to do together.

Miranda made her to-die-for chili, Luke and Dan threw the baseball, I colored with Siefer, and we watched some of her favorite movies.  We went to the kids' favorite park one afternoon.

 On another afternoon, we went to a pumpkin farm. It's a working farm with a hayride, a cow to milk, pony rides, and so many baby animals for the kids to pet. Sawyer was all over it. He loved the goats, the calves, and the pigs.

Siefer's favorite was the kitten barn.

She liked the pony ride, too!

The most fun for me, was holding the grandkids, haha!

We all went home with a pumpkin. . . 

. . . and Miranda insisted on the biggest one she could find. Which meant she had to hold it on her lap all the way home, because with four adults, two kids in carseats, and six pumpkins, room in the car was a little tight.

For weeks before we arrived, Siefer talked about wanting to go bowling with PopPop. We found a bowling alley that would be considered vintage nowadays -- we actually kept score ourselves with pencil and paper.  It was fun and brought back memories of when Dan and I first met through our company's bowling league!

Sawyer and PopPop keeping score.

Posting all these pictures makes me miss my grandbabies! It was hard to leave, but I have one more post to share our trip home.

Til then,

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Road Trip, Part 1

I'm going to break our trip up into a few blog posts and begin with the drive out to Wisconsin. Starting from our home north of Denver, we drove north up to Wyoming and clipped the southeastern part of the state to drive into the northwest corner of Nebraska. From there we headed north to Mt. Rushmore, but first stopped for lunch at one of my favorite places, Fort Robinson, Nebraska.

When I was growing up, camping was one of my family's favorite pastimes. My parents were history buffs, which landed us in many different places. One of them was Fort Robinson State Park, a 22,000-acre historical site. Fort Robinson was not a physical fortress, but rather a military camp that was established in the 1860s when tensions with native Americans in the west were running high. The site is loaded with history.

 It played a key role in the Sioux Indian Wars and Crazy Horse's surrender. The U.S. Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers trained here, and later it was a breeding and training ground for horses in World War I. It was a training camp for K-9 corps in World War II and also a German POW camp. Lots of history! Many of the buildings are still there, including the brick stables that housed hundreds of horses, officers' and enlisted men's housing, and the outbuildings that the camp required.

 Today it is a beautiful park with lodging provided in the former barracks and officer's quarters.

I have such good memories of visiting the fort with my family, taking horseback rides up on the buttes and exploring the area.

After a picnic lunch, which we ate in the car as it had started to rain, we headed north to Keystone, South Dakota. We stopped briefly at Mt. Rushmore, but it was late in the day, so we went to our hotel, the Roosevelt Inn, a late Victorian-style hotel named for good old Teddy, our 26th president.  It's a quaint, family run place and very nice.  The next day, we went back to Mt. Rushmore and took a hike to the base of the monument.

 Before leaving the area, we stopped at the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is an incredible story about one man's vision -- sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski  -- and his legacy, carried on by his family.

The drive through South Dakota took the rest of the day. Dan and I traded off driving every couple of hours, and listened to a book on tape -- Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. It is an interesting study and memoir, and quite entertaining, too. We both thoroughly enjoyed it.

We stayed in Sioux Falls that night, and the next day skirted the southern edge of Minnesota, before crossing the Mississippi River at Wabash, Wisconsin, which was holding its fall festival. We stopped briefly, visited the National Eagle Center, which is fantastic! Apparently there are about 40 pairs of bald eagles that nest in the area in the Spring. (We didn't see any there, but saw a couple later on in Wisconsin).

By this time, we were eager to get to our destination -- our kids and grandkids in Marion, Wisconsin! So, we hightailed it across Wisconsin with Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw playing on the Ipod!

It was a joyous reunion, when we pulled up to Luke and Miranda's house, and Siefer was waving ecstatically on the front porch.  She was across the lawn and in my arms for a hug before I got out of the car:)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Those flyover states

lyrics by Neil Thrasher, Michael Dulaney

Dan and I arrived home yesterday afternoon. We put 2,900 miles on our Toyota Highlander and traveled through several of those 'flyover states' that Jason Aldean sings about so beautifully. Much of the scenery looked like the picture above -- Nebraska, South Dakota, eastern Colorado. The farmland of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa provided beautiful scenery along the way and the fall colors were stunning.

Today, I am sorting through mail, doing laundry, and I made a quick trip to the grocery store this morning. I'll need to go again tomorrow and stock up, but this morning my niece stopped by for a visit and I was much more interested in picking up a few things for a light breakfast and getting home to spend time with her.

I have lots of photos of our trip and will share them over the next few days.

It's good to be home.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Road Trip

We've been counting the months and then the weeks and the days, and tomorrow it's time.  Time for a road trip to see our Wisconsin crew!

Today I got the car washed and cleaned it inside and out. An oil change, tires checked, and a whole list of other stuff that the guy at Grease Monkey recommended and I said sure. Why not. I think I made his day. (Not so sure I made Dan's day when I showed him the bill.)

I stopped at the library and picked up some books on tape.

I've printed out MapQuest directions, because even with GPS, I like a paper trail to see where I'm going. So, the Road Atlas is going along, too.

The cooler is ready to fill with a few snacks and cold drinks.

I haven't packed a stitch of clothing yet.  That won't take long, because it's all casual where we're going.

Got a couple of books, my journal and my big girl camera packed in a tote bag. These things are more important than what I'm going to wear.

Joe and Sam are in the wings, ready to come over tomorrow -- with George -- and take care of the house and, most importantly, my Lilly.

Not sure if I'll post while I'm away or save it all til I get back. Probably the latter.

Til then,

Monday, October 2, 2017

Hello, October

This picture of Sawyer, taken by Miranda last fall, is one of my all-time favorites. 

Yesterday we welcomed October with a beautiful fall day. It was a bit foggy at daybreak, giving the backyard a mystical, surreal quality to it, like a Secret Garden.

Then, the sun came out, and we had a reprieve from the rain that has been dogging us all week. Dan has been eager to start construction on his workshop in the backyard, and the weather finally cooperated.  Joe and Sam came over and, with a two-person drill, they dug out the holes for the caissons that will be the base of the structure.  I don't have any pictures, but imagine muddy shoes, piles of muddy clay dug up from the earth, and four perfect holes as a result, and you get the idea.

In the meantime, I made a batch of blueberry muffins.  Emily and Marcus and the kids arrived as they were coming out of the oven. My dad stopped by a little later, and we had coffee and muffins on the back porch. It was a gorgeous, perfect day to welcome October.

In the afternoon, I picked the rest of the peppers and squash from the garden, as well as a bunch of Roma tomatoes. And basil. I made a big batch of tomato and basil soup, and Dan and I each had a bowl with muffins while watching the Rockies game.

Another oldie but goody, this photo was taken a year ago -- Joe and Sam checking out the venue for the wedding.  The leaves are changing more slowly this year, with most of the trees still green. In a couple of weeks, it will look more like this burst of color.

I'm ready for a good book with a fall setting! I just finished two books that were both set in winter in mountain wilderness areas.  They were both excellent -- Charles Martin's The Mountain Between Us, (I think the movie is coming out soon, if it's not out already). And Lynn D'Urso's Heartbroke Bay. This is an older book that I came across at the library. It is set in 1898 Alaska Territory, and based on a true story. An Englishwoman and her husband set out with three other men to pan for gold, only to find themselves stranded and fighting for survival. The true nature of each character is revealed and the plot takes an eerie turn. The story is so vivid, and the descriptions so beautiful. You'll need a cup of hot chocolate to stay warm while reading it.

It was a good day all around. Today, the rain is back, but there's plenty of soup left!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Rainy days, movies, flannel and lattes

Is it really Friday already? I'm joining the Friday Fave Five bunch, looking back over my week and counting some blessings.

1. My nephew Tommy is a teenager! Whoa, how did that happen so fast? We celebrated his birthday last night with pizza and cake.

2.  Earlier this week, I spent a rainy afternoon at a movie by myself.  I saw Home Again with Reese Witherspoon. Honestly? It was not one of her best movies and I'm glad I had a coupon so the ticket was free! It was silly and predictable, but the tub of popcorn and box of Milk Duds made it the perfect afternoon.

3. I'm having the best time using my senior discount at the local thrift store. (It's like Kohl's, where they consider you a senior at 55. But that's not really a senior citizen is it? So, it's like we get to ease into being a senior, right?).  Anyhoo, I've been visiting on senior day and buying books for my grandkids, building up a nice little library.

4. On a more serious note, Dan and I have been recording the Ken Burns series on the Vietnam War. We both enjoy history, and Burns is of course the master at telling it. The thing that has struck me the most is the still photos of civilian life at the time -- the school kids and the suburbs, which was my life. It is such a sharp contrast, this fairy tale life I had, and what these young American soldiers were going through. It makes me so ashamed. I guess it seems like an odd thing to list as a blessing for the week. But, I feel blessed that stories like these are told, and that -- please God -- we have the opportunity to learn from them.

5. Hot lattes and plaid flannel shirts. It's been the perfect week for these. I just love fall.

How was your week?